Food for Thought
By Dezi Greig
Does your dog have a dull, dry, thin or brittle coat? Dry, flaky, itchy or inflamed skin? It might be time to rethink what your dog is eating. The skin, being the largest organ of the body, is where nutrition issues will most commonly show. A healthy coat should be shiny and smooth, not dry or brittle and healthy skin should be supple and clear, not greasy or flaky.
Is it Food Allergies?
Food allergies are commonly blamed for every scratch Fido indulges in, however, food may not be the culprit. Contrary to popular belief, food isn’t the primary cause of canine allergies, accounting for just 10% of all allergies seen in dogs. The most common cause of scratching is flea bites, followed closely by inhaled allergens, such as pollen. Some dogs may also suffer skin irritation related to dry winter conditions, similar to what many humans experience.
Symptoms of food allergies are similar to those of most allergies seen in dogs, making it hard to rule out other allergens without testing. The primary symptoms of food allergies; itchy or inflamed skin, chronic ear infections, excessive hair loss or hot spots.
If your dog suffers from allergies year-round and other medical issues have been ruled out, your dog may have food allergies. Common allergens include; corn, wheat, soy, chicken and beef. However, the only accurate way to diagnose food allergies is through an elimination diet, which can take up to 12 weeks and requires strict adherence to the diet.
Sometimes the issue isn’t allergens, but the quality of the food or ingredients from which the food is made. Many cheap dog foods are made with food “not fit for human consumption”, cereal grains that are contaminated with toxins, moldy vegetables, rotten meats… or made in an unsanitary packing facility. If the nutrients in your dog’s food are poorly digestible, they will not only be unavailable to meet the body’s needs, but they will also put an excessive load on the liver and kidneys. Buying a top quality dog food from a trusted company will help keep your dog healthy.
Wet or Dry?
Dry food is no more than 10% moisture and contains high carbohydrate levels (up to 74%), otherwise the kibble will not hold together. This can be a big problem for dogs with a starch sensitivity, or who need to lose weight. Wet food has a higher protein content, more moisture and less carbohydrates which can make it a better choice for your dog.
Limited Ingredient Diets; First Mate, Instinct LID, Great Life LID, Acana Singles, GO! Sensitivity & Shine, California Naturals
Grain Free Diets; Orijen, Acana, Nutrisca, Fromm 4 Star, Lotus, Horizon, Pure Vita
Wet Food Diets; Honest Kitchen, Sojo’s, Grandma Lucy’s, Tiki Dog, Nature’s Logic
Best Budget Friendly Diets; Fromm Classic, Fromm Gold, NutriSource, Precise Naturals