Many large breeds have allergies that cause them to suffer from itchy skin. If your dog licks his paws a lot, licks or chews his skin or has open sores, these can be signs of allergies. Food often is the cause of itchy skin in dogs. Luckily, there are ways to prevent food allergies for itchy skin. Here are 3 things to look for to find the best dog food for itchy skin:
Ingredients that cause allergies:
Many dog foods include ingredients that cause dog allergies. The most common culprits are corn, soy, and wheat. However, some dogs also have allergies to different proteins such as beef, bison, and chicken. If your dog has an allergy to any ingredients that are in the food, this will cause more allergic reactions for your dog. To find out what your dog is allergic to you can either ask your vet to conduct allergy testing or try an elimination diet where you remove most foods and slowly add in ingredients to see which causes the allergic reaction.
Lower quality dog foods often use meat byproducts instead of the meat itself. This means that when they say chicken byproduct or chicken meal, that could mean chicken feathers, bones, beaks, and other miscellaneous parts. They don’t offer much nutrition and are usually used as cheap filler. This leads to confusion on allergies – like if a dog is allergic to feathers but not to chicken meat. Foods with chicken but without the chicken meal or chicken byproducts would be fine for that dog. Read the ingredient list carefully and avoid foods that include byproducts or meals of protein sources.
Ingredients that promote a healthy skin and coat:
Some foods include omega fatty acids that improve your dog’s skin and coat. These ingredients are usually avocado, flax seed, and fish oil. (Avocado meal and oil is healthy while its skin and pits can be harmful for dogs, so do your research to confirm the food uses it safely.) Their fatty acids will nourish your dog’s skin and coat, reducing your dog’s allergic symptoms. If your dog’s food does not include these ingredients, you can give your dog fatty acids by way of supplements. Consult a vet to determine the correct dosages for fish oil or a similar supplement for your dog.
Ingredients your dog has never eaten before:
Some dogs develop allergies to food over time, so if you change the food that they are eating this can reduce their allergies because they're eating ingredients they have not developed an allergy to. Combinations such as venison and potato, lamb and rice, and foods with duck or fish have proven helpful for dogs with allergies.
It can take time to find the right combination of these 3 factors. It took me almost 2 years to find a food that works for Nala’s allergies. But the frustration of buying and trying different kinds of foods over and over was well worth it. Today we have a food that does not bother her allergies. Her eyes are bright and no longer red, she is not scratching and biting herself like she used to, and her coat is softer than it has ever been.
As an example of a great food, and to save you some time, check out this formula from Blue Buffalo.
This turkey and potato formula has none of the ingredients that typically cause allergic reactions. It has high quality ingredients, as well as flax seed to provide omega 3's for skin and coat health. If your dog has not eaten this type of food before, the turkey and potato formula will be new to his body for a better response. Go ahead, give it a try.
Dog allergies cannot be erased, but you can relieve your dog's allergy issues. It will take a commitment from you to monitor ingredients in your dog's food, find the right food for your dog, or invest in allergy testing to learn all the things that your dog is allergic to. Once you find your best dry dog food for itchy skin, it’s well worth it to see your dog’s relief.
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Photo credit: Lee J Haywood