Does Your Dog Really Need a Lamb and Rice Food?

Julian Reville, DVM

You want the best for your dog. You already know some skin problems can be  diet-related. And you want to prevent any problems. So you feed a Lamb and  Rice-based food advertised as good for skin and coat.

If your dog is not allergic to his food (and only a small percentage of dogs are), you
could be spending money on a food which won’t improve your dog’s skin and coat.

Why is everybody buying lamb and rice foods? Why are all of the companies coming out with new ones?

The simple answer is “marketing.” The public is mistakenly demanding these foods, and the companies are responding. Let me explain why.

Unlike chronically allergic people, who usually sneeze, dogs itch and scratch – constantly, noisily and incessantly. Skin disease related to allergies is the number one disease-related reason why dogs are brought to my animal hospital.

Allergies are caused by a complex process involving antigens (things we are allergic to). Because of their molecular size, proteins make good antigens and proteins are an essential part of food. We can’t do without them, but some proteins do cause allergies, at least in dogs. But we can’t predict which proteins will cause allergies in which dogs.

Most, but not all, allergies take time to develop. The process is called sensitization. This explains why some dogs can eat the same food for years without a problem. Then they develop an allergy, not just to that food, but to the protein found in that food. Since most good foods get their protein from the same types of protein, usually beef, pork, or chicken, the dog may be allergic to many types of food, all of which contain the offending antigen.

Since food allergy cannot be predicted, special diets were developed to use as trials. These diets contained protein that most dogs had never eaten before. So, in theory, the dogs would not have been sensitized to the proteins, would not be allergic to them, and their skin would get better. These unusual proteins were lamb or rabbit. If, after several weeks on this diet, the dog got better, then it was presumed that the dog had a food allergy. People began to think the special diets would improve skin and coat in any dog. (Not so.)

And what if the allergic dog had been exposed to these proteins before, by a well-meaning owner who fed a Lamb and Rice food as a preventive measure. Suppose the dog developed an allergy to lamb. What do we feed now to test for food allergy? Turkey? Already in some commercial foods. Fish? Ditto. Antelope? Wildebeest? Emu?

Unless your dog shows signs of allergies, feed a high-quality chicken or beef-based food from the beginning of his life. If a skin problem develops, your veterinarian can recommend a protein source that hasn’t been part of the dog’s regular diet before. This is a rational, way to proceed, and keeps options open.

For better skin and coat in a non-allergic dog, stick with the beef or chicken foods.

 

Treating Allergies With

For the last several years, we’ve been  treating our Good Dog! test dogs  for itchiness due to mosquitos, pollen and other things which caused the dogs to jingle their tags as they scratched all night. The problem was solved when we began using a miraculous food supplement created by our old veterinarian in South Carolina, Dr. Stan Gorlitsky.

Skin-Eze™ is a combination of Chinese herbs, fiber sources and flavorings (to overcome the nasty taste of the herbs).  The herbs include angelica root, burdock fruit, salvia (high in omega-3), forsythia, licorice root and several others.

We’ve followed this product from its early days as a bad-tasting powder, to today’s pretty-good tasting chewable.

We’ve heard success stories from hundreds of dog owners. Skin-Eze seems to work for about 90% of the dogs who use it, no matter what the cause of the itching. It’s especially good for those notorious itchers, Shar-Peis, Westies (and other white dogs), Goldens, Labs and Jack Russells.

A full Good Dog! test report is available at no charge, but suffice it to say the stuff works fabulously well. Quite a few dogs who were about to be “put out of their misery” have been saved with Skin-Eze. A jar of 100 tablets is $23.95, including Priority Mail shipping. Satisfaction is guaranteed.To order with a credit card, call (800) 968-1738 or send a check to: Good Communications, Inc., PO Box 10069-DFB, Austin, TX 78766.

Does Your Dog Really Need a Lamb and Rice Food?

Julian Reville, DVM

You want the best for your dog. You already know some skin problems can be  diet-related. And you want to prevent any problems. So you feed a Lamb and  Rice-based food advertised as good for skin and coat.

If your dog is not allergic to his food (and only a small percentage of dogs are), you
could be spending money on a food which won’t improve your dog’s skin and coat.

Why is everybody buying lamb and rice foods? Why are all of the companies coming out with new ones?

The simple answer is “marketing.” The public is mistakenly demanding these foods, and the companies are responding. Let me explain why.

Unlike chronically allergic people, who usually sneeze, dogs itch and scratch – constantly, noisily and incessantly. Skin disease related to allergies is the number one disease-related reason why dogs are brought to my animal hospital.

Allergies are caused by a complex process involving antigens (things we are allergic to). Because of their molecular size, proteins make good antigens and proteins are an essential part of food. We can’t do without them, but some proteins do cause allergies, at least in dogs. But we can’t predict which proteins will cause allergies in which dogs.

Most, but not all, allergies take time to develop. The process is called sensitization. This explains why some dogs can eat the same food for years without a problem. Then they develop an allergy, not just to that food, but to the protein found in that food. Since most good foods get their protein from the same types of protein, usually beef, pork, or chicken, the dog may be allergic to many types of food, all of which contain the offending antigen.

Since food allergy cannot be predicted, special diets were developed to use as trials. These diets contained protein that most dogs had never eaten before. So, in theory, the dogs would not have been sensitized to the proteins, would not be allergic to them, and their skin would get better. These unusual proteins were lamb or rabbit. If, after several weeks on this diet, the dog got better, then it was presumed that the dog had a food allergy. People began to think the special diets would improve skin and coat in any dog. (Not so.)

And what if the allergic dog had been exposed to these proteins before, by a well-meaning owner who fed a Lamb and Rice food as a preventive measure. Suppose the dog developed an allergy to lamb. What do we feed now to test for food allergy? Turkey? Already in some commercial foods. Fish? Ditto. Antelope? Wildebeest? Emu?

Unless your dog shows signs of allergies, feed a high-quality chicken or beef-based food from the beginning of his life. If a skin problem develops, your veterinarian can recommend a protein source that hasn’t been part of the dog’s regular diet before. This is a rational, way to proceed, and keeps options open.

For better skin and coat in a non-allergic dog, stick with the beef or chicken foods.

 

Treating Allergies With Herbs

For the last several years, we’ve been  treating our Good Dog! test dogs  for itchiness due to mosquitos, pollen and other things which caused the dogs to jingle their tags as they scratched all night. The problem was solved when we began using a miraculous food supplement created by our old veterinarian in South Carolina, Dr. Stan Gorlitsky.

Skin-Eze™ is a combination of Chinese herbs, fiber sources and flavorings (to overcome the nasty taste of the herbs).  The herbs include angelica root, burdock fruit, salvia (high in omega-3), forsythia, licorice root and several others.

We’ve followed this product from its early days as a bad-tasting powder, to today’s pretty-good tasting chewable.

We’ve heard success stories from hundreds of dog owners. Skin-Eze seems to work for about 90% of the dogs who use it, no matter what the cause of the itching. It’s especially good for those notorious itchers, Shar-Peis, Westies (and other white dogs), Goldens, Labs and Jack Russells.

A full Good Dog! test report is available at no charge, but suffice it to say the stuff works fabulously well. Quite a few dogs who were about to be “put out of their misery” have been saved with Skin-Eze. A jar of 100 tablets is $23.95, including Priority Mail shipping. Satisfaction is guaranteed.To order with a credit card, call (800) 968-1738 or send a check to: Good Communications, Inc., PO Box 10069-DFB, Austin, TX 78766.

Treating Allergies With Food

Daniel P. Carey, DVM and Gregory Reinhart, Ph.D.

In the United States, it’s estimated that at least 15% of all dogs suffer from allergies. Owners of allergic pets are all too familiar with these signs: itching; dry, flaky skin; and dull coats. However, some new developments in allergy research promise to provide at least some relief for dogs – and their owners.

Allergies Defined

Allergies are an immune system reaction to a substance the body deems foreign. For some reason, that particular substance provokes the immune system into putting major efforts into fighting the intruder. Because the body is very sensitive to that substance, we say that the body is hypersensitive to the substance or shows increased reactivity to it.

The substance which does the provoking is called an antigen. It can be any substance capable of producing a detectable immune response. An allergen is an antigen that produces an allergic response.

Although there are many allergic skin conditions common to dogs and cats, three specific problems represent the bulk of cases: flea allergen sensitivity, inhaled allergen sensitivity (atopy) and food allergies.

Flea allergies comprise the greatest number of allergy cases, followed by aller-gies caused by inhaled airborne allergens. Food allergies are poorly understood and often misdiagnosed, so their true Incidence rate is difficult to estimate.

Flea Allergen Sensitivity

The most common allergic reaction encountered by pets is caused by the bites of fleas. Flea Bite Allergic Dermatitis (FBAD) affects both sexes and all breeds. It commonly appears in animals between 3 and 5 years of age. Those animals especially sensitive to inhaled allergens (for example, pollen) are often extra sensitive to flea bites.

Pets with FBAD often exhibit excessive itching and loss of hair on the lower back and thighs. The itching may be mild or intense and often involves the neck area.

The presence or absence of FBAD is related to the flea population. For example, in states with long winters, the flea population is effectively kept at a low, only to boom with the onset of warmer spring weather. However, when animals are constantly exposed to fleas, they are less likely to suffer from FBAD than those exposed seasonally. The FBAD reaction depends upon the duration and constancy of exposure.

The typical treatment for FBAD is corticosteroid therapy, which effectively reduces the itching characteristic of FBAD. More and more veterinarians, however, are concerned with the side effects associated with corticosteroids. New research has shown that dietary fatty acid adjustments have positive effects on dogs.

Inhaled Allergen Sensitivity or Atopy

Allergic reactions due to inhaled allergens such as pollen are known as atopy. They’re the second most common allergic reaction in pets.

The first reaction dogs usually have is itching on the feet and forelegs. Itching of the face, ears and neck are also common. In severe cases, dogs may show signs of dandruff, inflammation of the outer ears, or even skin redness.

Studies have shown that dogs are more likely to be genetically predisposed to atopy than cats, and that, in particular, several breeds tend to more commonly develop atopy. These include Boxers, Lhasa Apsos, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Shar Peis.

Dogs are most often affected by atopy between 1 and 3 years of age, with females more often affected than males. Since the first sign of atopy is often itching, and that’s also the main symptom of other  allergies, a thorough veterinary examination is needed to distinguish atopy from others.

Atopy often worsens with age if not identified and treated properly. Animals are exposed to allergens in two ways: the offending allergen may be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. This latter process makes the use of rinses and shampoos especially important for treatment and management, as keeping the allergen off the skin helps solve the problem.

Corticosteroids are an effective medication in managing atopy. Another treatment is hyposensitization (“allergy shots”), which makes the body more tolerant of antigens. This delays or lessens the allergic reaction, and is effective in 75% of cases within nine months of treatment.

As a pet owner, you can help manage your pet’s allergies by applying cool water rinses to reduce itching; using shampoos and moisturizers; and treating bacterial infections on the skin promptly. In addition, as with FBAD, fatty acid adjustments in the diet can also have a positive impact.

Food Hypersensitivity

Food hypersensitivity comprises about 10% of hypersensitive allergic cases. Distinguishing between a true “food allergy” and an “adverse reaction to food” can be difficult. An “adverse reaction to food” is associated with ingestion of a certain food ingredient and the subsequent appearance of symptoms. The term “food allergy” refers to an adverse reaction based on a proven response from the immune system (for example, the release of antibodies), and is less common than an adverse reaction to food.

How do you tell if your dog has an adverse reaction to food? Simply by eliminating the suspected food from the diet, and watching to see if the symptoms disappear. To complete the test, check to see if the symptoms reappear when the food is introduced again.

In true cases of food allergy, the hallmark sign is itching, not unlike the itching present in FBAD and atopy. Other symptoms of food allergy in dogs include recurrent ear inflammation, hives and itching.

The only effective way to manage food hypersensitivity is to remove or avoid the offending allergens. Because most food allergens are proteins found in the diet, the first step is to change the dog food you are using. If your dog has been having reactions to a food based on beef or meat meal, switch to a food made from chicken. If your dog has problems on a chicken-based food, try a lamb food. Remember that many foods contain a variety of proteins, including egg, in varying quantities. One of those could be the culprit, so some experimenting is needed to pin down the source of your dog’s sensitivity. Read the ingredient panels of different foods.

You should be able to find a good commercial diet which your dog can enjoy without problems. Occasionally, a home-cooked diet may be suggested. Aside from the lack of convenience, cooking for your dog presents the problem of ensuring that your pet eats a complete and balanced diet. But with the many new options available commercially, cooking shouldn’t be necessary.

New Concepts In Allergy Management

Research has shown that two dietary factors can help reduce the allergic load (the amount of allergens presented to a sensitive individual) and decrease a pet’s pruritic threshold (the point at which an allergic condition manifests itself as itching). An optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and the use of limited, highly digestible proteins in the diet, actually help manage allergic inflammation at a cellular level.

In conclusion, working with your dog’s diet may help you handle the allergy problem without resorting to drugs, or help your dog progress further than with drug therapy alone. By combining an optimal diet with appropriate medications, it’s possible to effectively alleviate allergy symptoms your dog may have. You should ask your veterinarian about current treatment methods and clinical allergy diets.

Dan Carey, DVM, is Director of Technical Communications for The Iams Company.  He has been in private practice and nutri-tional research. Greg Reinhart, Ph.D., is a Research Nutritionist for Iams. Illustration by Susan Solotoff.