Hello, fellow pet parents! This is Meg Marrs from K9 of Mine, your go-to source for everything canine. Today, we're addressing a topic that often leaves many of us puzzled: itchy dogs and the role of nutrition in managing this unnerving issue.
Just like how some of us can't handle dairy, dogs too can react to certain foods with a resounding "nope!" — except they can't tell you about it, so they show you with their skin.
Let's discover the best foods that can help your fur baby stop scratching incessantly.
Signs Your Dog Most Likely Has Allergies
So, you've noticed your fur kiddo is scratching more than usual. Maybe you've spotted redness
or excessive licking that's gone from cute to concerning.
While it's normal for dogs to scratch, itchiness can often be a sign of allergies or food sensitivities. This can throw a lot of owners off, because as humans, we show signs of allergies very differently, with sneezing, watery eyes, and stuffy noses.
But for dogs express allergies in the form of:
- Scratching themselves
- Excessive licking (especially the paws)
- Red, blotchy skin (especially in the belly area)
If your pup is exhibiting a lot of licking and scratching, especially around the paws and ears, there’s a decent chance she’s suffering from allergies!
Unraveling Dog Food Allergies: What Foods Are to Blame?
Now let's delve into the realm of dog food allergies. They're typically triggered by commonly used ingredients, with the most common culprits being:
I know – that’s a lot of food, especially considering how common it is to see these ingredients in your average kibble.
But don't fret, there's a viable and tasty solution to this prickly problem concerning your dog’s gut health: limited ingredient diets.
The Wonders of Limited Ingredient Diets
Have you ever heard of limited ingredient dog food diets? They're like the Marie Kondo of dog foods — they keep only what sparks joy (or in this case, what doesn't spark itchiness).
Limited ingredient diets (LID) are a type of hypoallergenic dog food usually specially curated to exclude the most common known allergens.
The goal is to keep the ingredient list as short as possible, helping to narrow down ingredients so that you can better assess exactly what foods are causing issues with your pup.
Usually a limited-ingredient, hypoallergenic dog food entails:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Novel proteins (like duck, lamb, bison, fish, etc)
- Shorter ingredient lists
Now, it’s worth noting that your dog’s itchiness won’t necessarily vanish the minute you switch to a limited ingredient dog food.
You may have to conduct a food elimination diet, which involves gradually feeding your dog different types of food with different ingredients and proteins until you find exactly what ingredients are triggering your pup’s allergies, and which are not.
It can be a long and not-so-easy process, as you’ll have to continuously be monitoring your dog and evaluating their exacerbating or lessening itchiness. But, the final result will be matching your pup with a great food that works well for her!
To start experimenting with LIDs, any limited-ingredient or hypoallergenic dog food will do, but if you want to narrow down your options, The Honest Kitchen's Dehydrated Limited Ingredient Duck Food is a great place to start, exemplifying the best traits of a good LID.
This food focuses on high-quality duck as the primary protein and incorporates helpful ingredients for pups with the itchies with fish oil, vitamins E and B, while also leaving out the nasties like fillers, corn, wheat, and soy.
Always Consult With Your Veterinarian
If your dog exhibits signs of food allergies or skin issues, it's best to consult with your vet before making any major diet changes. Your veterinarian may have a better understanding of what allergies are most common in your dog’s breed, or may have diet suggestions that work in tandem with other medication or supplements your dog is currently taking.
Getting to the Root of Itchiness Ain’t Easy, But it’s Worth it
The right diet can significantly alleviate your dog's itchiness and improve their overall health if your pup is suffering from food allergies.
However, you’ll also want to keep in mind that many dogs suffer from environmental allergies too, just like we do. So, food won’t always solve your pup’s itchy issues, but it’s worth a try!