My Dog Is Really Itchy – Will A Vegan Diet Help?
Having an itchy allergic dog that constantly suffers from itchy ears and ear infections, as well as chews their paws and makes them sore, red and infected is heartbreaking.
It drastically reduces the quality of life of your dog, and sometimes, these allergies are accompanied by abdominal pain and cramping as dogs very often suffer from allergic reactions to animal proteins in the food. None of us want to see our pets in any form of discomfort.
The most common food allergens in dogs are beef, dairy, chicken products and wheat, and to a lower degree soy, lamb, pork, fish, and corn
The most common food allergens in people are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat and shellfish…..so very different! We like to think that as our pets are small members of our family; that they share in our ‘intolerances’ but WHEAT AND GLUTEN INTOLERANCE IN PETS IS VERY RARE (except in a small family of Irish Setters who are gluten intolerant!)
I had to write that in bold to make all readers of this blog realise that all these claims of gluten-free, grain-free, high protein and hypoallergenic (all written on the same packaging sometimes) are just marketing ploys!
The multi-billion pound pet food industry plays on our knowledge that we know at least one person who suffers with a wheat or gluten intolerance, so our pets MUST be the same as they are our family members!
The main difference we see between humans and our pets, is that they are more likely to be reactive to protein (mainly beef) compared to us….and most pet food is made of beef (or beef products – right down to the gelatine coating of your pet’s medication capsules that are made from beef hooves!)
Be careful of what is called cross-reactivity ie if your pet is allergic to beef, they will very likely be allergic to bison or venison too and similarly if allergic to chicken, they will react to duck and turkey.
Dogs being fed a healthy balanced plant-based diet with none of the top allergens found in the food (beef, dairy, wheat, lamb, egg, chicken, soya, pork, corn, rabbit and fish) will stop scratching as these proteins can be fully eliminated from the diet if they are the cause of the allergy. Food allergies tend to develop in young dogs who have been fed the same food over a period of time and it tends to show as very itchy ears and ear infections.
There is nothing more worrying than having your dog constantly itching, scratching and uncomfortable. They are more prone to skin infections, ear infections and secondary yeast problems if the scratching is not kept fully under control and none of us want to see our pets in pain.
Plant-based diets can also be made to be more beneficial to the skin barrier function (that is normally compromised in our itchy atopic pets who constantly chew and lick their paws), as they can have the addition of the purest form of EPA and DHA as Omega 3 Algae oil supplements as well as the addition of plant-based foods high in polyphenols (such as blueberries and oregano, mint) that act as anti-oxidants to benefit the skin.
It is easier to find polyphenols and Vitamin E naturally in plant-based sources rather than in commercial dry foods where they are added in as supplements rather than coming straight from the plant source. Anything that strengthens the important skin barrier is vital to stop your itchy pet from scratching – we feel plant-based diets offer the kindest most sustainable solution.
Sadly most vets will tell you the only way they have been taught – to feed a novel protein to your dog instead of a plant-based diet. These ‘novel proteins’ ie proteins that your itchy pet may never have come into contact with before, offer non-sustainable and unkind options. These pet foods may contain duck or deer or rabbit, and as animal lovers, we don’t even want to imagine how these beautiful animals used in novel diets are transported and slaughtered just to feed our itchy pets.
Another source of protein in most commercial skin-based dog foods is fish – either as the main protein source or as oils. We know that in our current climate emergency that we are facing, that there is no such thing as ‘sustainable fishing’. We have to protect our oceans and our marine life who rely on the small fish that are usually used in most pet foods, so yet again a plant-based diet for our itchy pets is the most sustainable option.
“My dog Trixie CAN NOT eat meat. Even hydrolysed protein food contains ingredients that she cannot eat.
If she does, we have more expensive vet bills!
Solo Vegetal dry and tinned has been amazing for her and she loves it.”
“Hank eats Solo-Vegetal dog food and he loves carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes & Lily’s Kitchen Woofbrush chews. He likes off lead running and playing with other dogs and fetch. He has allergy issues (environmental allergies as well as an allergy to soya, peas, beef, cabbage). He used to have recurrent ear infections and itchy paws. He received Cytopoint injections every 2 months.
Being plant-based has changed Hank’s life. He loves our recipes and foods we recommend, as does his ‘sister’ Luna”
What is an elimination diet?
This means feeding your pet a diet from your vet or carefully made at home that contains only a few ingredients that your pet has never been fed before or that are hydrolysed (where the proteins are broken down into very small pieces so that they can ‘hide’ from the immune system). These diets tend to be very processed which makes owners turn to raw meat diets as they tend to have no additives.
This diet is then fed as THE ONLY FOOD OR TREAT TO GO INTO YOUR PET’S MOUTH for at least a 4 – 6 weeks. If your pet’s signs dramatically improve during the trial, then to confirm a food allergy, your pet then has to go back to the old diet again. A sudden relapse proves an allergy to an ingredient in your pet’s previous diet.
A gentle and kind fully balanced 100% plant-based diet can certainly help your itchy, allergic pet.
“So, while under normal circumstances I cook at home for my boy, he’s been on kibble a lot this year because lots of friends have been looking after him for me while I’ve moved house and worked mad shifts. He was on V-Dog, Yarrah and Benevo as I was trialling all of them with him one after the other. He really liked Benevo but after months of itching and infections, I worked out he had an allergy. The only common denominator in these kibbles that was new to him was soya. So, I’m trying him on Solo Vegetal that you recommended and I have to say that when I opening the bag, he was drooling! He absolutely inhaled it when I gave it to him and it even smells good to me! I’m back to mostly cooking for him again (and his allergies have disappeared within three weeks) but it is great to have this food in the cupboard for staying with friends and emergencies”
Dogs that suffer with atopy – a form of allergy where your pet is allergic to more than one environmental allergen, and where they tend to bite or chew their paws; will also do much better on a plant-based homemade diet than on a commercial hydrolysed protein dog food diet.
Any dry food or kibble diets are made to last for a period of time on the shelf and they can carry storage mites that your atopic dog may react to especially if they suffer with the most common of all – a house dust mite allergy. We advise keeping any dry food away from your pet in a sealed container or in the fridge if they do suffer from a house dust mite allergy to prevent a reaction to storage mites in dry food.
A homemade diet immediately removes this concern and is far more palatable to your pet than a commercial hydrolysed diet.
See the ingredients below of the most recommended hydrolysed foods and their ingredients and then compare with our plant-based ingredients below.
What Other Hypoallergenic Foods Do Vets Recommend…except us!
Royal Canin Anallergenic™
Corn starch, hydrolysed poultry by-products aggregate, coconut oil, vegetable oil, natural flavours, powdered cellulose, dried chicory root, sodium silico aluminate, potassium chloride, monocalcium phosphate, L-tyrosine, fructooligosaccharides, fish oil, choline chloride, L-lysine, calcium carbonate, vitamins [DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A acetate, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement], DL-methionine, taurine, L-tryptophan, histidine, trace minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, manganese proteinate, ferrous sulfate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, copper proteinate], marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.), rosemary extract, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid, magnesium oxide, potassium iodate
Purina ® HA Hypoallergenic
Corn starch, protein , minerals, coconut oil, sugar, rapeseed oil, cellulose, soya oil, fish oil
40% Insect (Insect Meal 26.2%, Freshly Prepared Insect 8.3%, Insect Oil 5.5%), Oats (19%), Potato (19%), Corn, Peas, Brewer’s Yeast, Seaweed (2%), Linseed, Tomato Pomace, Minerals, Vitamins, Beetroot (0.5%), Chicory Pulp, Pumpkin, Carrot, Glucosamine (575mg/kg), Chondroitin (575mg/kg), Kale, Parsley.
Hills Prescription Diet Z/D
The ingredients as stated on their Hills official website, state –
INGREDIENTS: COMPOSITION: Meat and animal derivatives, cereals, derivatives of vegetable origin, oils and fats, minerals. Carbohydrate source: Corn starch. Protein source: Chicken liver hydrolysate.
NOW COMPARE THE ABOVE INGREDIENTS WITH THE KINDER FOODS THAT WE OFFER….
Micronised rice, potato and pea protein, white oats and hulled oats, einkorn wheat, buckwheat, spelt, vegetable oils and fats (including evening primrose oil and borage oil), potato flakes, dried beet pulp and chicory, isolated vegetable protein, hydrolysed vegetable proteins, wheatgerm, micronised dried carob flour, dry brewer’s yeast, minerals, flaxseed, dried carrots, tomatoes, apples, spinach and medicinal herbs, fructo-oligosaccharides, yeast hydrolysates.
Crude Protein 24.0%, Fat Content 11.25%, Crude Fibre 3.7%, Ash 5.2%
There are no GMO ingredients and although the ingredients do mention wheat (known to be an allergen in dogs); buckwheat is in fact a seed and it contains many beneficial nutrients. Einkorn wheat is chosen for its antioxidant properties as well as being loaded with the essential nutrients zinc, iron, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and A. All very important for heart health. It also contains added taurine and the Vit D3 component comes from yeasts which are grown using ultraviolet light – a pure plant-based source.
(We highly recommend this premium plant-based dry food and it is very tasty as our own family dog Ruff LOVES it!)
Our Homemade Feed the Rainbow Recipe
Cooked ingredients each carefully out weighed in grams specific to your dog
- Tinned red kidney beans and tinned cannellini beans
- Chopped sweet potato (no skin), red apple chopped (with skin no pips), cauliflower and kale
- Green lentils
- Red lentils
- Brown rice
Nutrient rich icing also carefully weighed out in grams
- Ground almonds
- Desiccated coconut
- Chopped fresh parsley and basil and dried origanum or thyme
- JUST BE KIND supplement
- Sunflower or linseed oil (or combine both)
- Algae oil capsules
- Oat or almond milk
(As you can see from our carefully selected list of wholesome, fresh ingredients, we offer you the choice of adding in the most nutritious and even garden grown ingredients that nutrient-wise cannot even compare to the dry foods that most vets are recommending for itchy pets!)