Frosty's Itchy Situation... Need Food Recommendation

Hi everyone! I have posted a couple times now about Frosty's mystery allergies, but I had another discussion with our vet today and I need some advice.  Frosty developed a frantic itchy problem in June 2012.  No idea why.  Nothing changed in our home and he has been on Pedigree for his whole life (4 years).  He did not have fleas, no hot spots, no skin irritation, just endless frantic scratching.  We were hoping it was just caused by our super hot/dry summer (live in Iowa) and that symptoms would fade once winter got here.  The vet has been giving him steroid injections to help calm the scratching/chewing, but the last one in December had absolutely no effect at all :(  I have used about 5 different kinds of super strength anti-itch shampoo/conditioner on him over the last bunch of months, and the latest stuff seems to help a little bit.

Anyway, vet says shots aren't working so we have to try some way to find out what may be causing the problem.  Step one is to change Frosty over to a hypo-allergenic food, or at least something without corn/wheat/chicken/beef.  There is no way I can afford to buy Frosty prescription food for the rest of his life, so what I am looking for are food recommendations for something that does not contain the above ingredients.  I can not afford Wellness, its just too much.  Does anyone have recommendations for something a little bit less expensive?  I had thought maybe Blue or Taste of the Wild, but haven't looked at their ingredients yet.  I live in podunk Iowa in the back of nowhere, so I don't have any big pet outlets near me to get food, just one TSC farm store.  If necessary, I guess I can always order food online.

So if you have any recommendations, I would be super greatful.  Thanks in advance!

Chris and Frosty

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We have no idea what the cause is.  It is not too often bathing as it started when he was only getting a bath every 3-6 months.  The vet said it is one of two things.   Either he is allergic to (1) food or (2) something else.  Lol!  So her recommendation was to change food first to see if it is that or the something else.  I have tried different kinds of fish oil, salmon oil, anti-itchy sauce, allergy pills, steroid shots, but none of these really help.

Before doing an elimination diet you can try just switching brands. My parents fed their lab Beneful for about 4 to 5 years with no issue then all of a sudden he was itching like crazy. The did the steroids and flea meds etc and no help. They switched to a slightly higher quality food and it all went away. Fish oil is also a great idea. It does wonders for allergy dogs, give it about 3 to 4 weeks to see full effect but it works to decrease allergens even if you can't isolate exactly what he's allergic too. Franklin is on taste of the wild and does great but he's never had allergy issues. I get a 30 pound bag for $39.99. Since you are limited in where you can get food I would check your local feed store for options. Our feed store carries many smaller name brands that have limited ingredients. I'd probably shoot for a fish based diet to increase omega 3s.

I am definitely leaning towards Taste of the Wild Salmon Flavor as that is what we feed our cats (who also have allergies lol).  I just hope one of my local stores carries the dog kind.  I tired the fish oil for about 4 months, but it didn't seem to make any difference at all except to give him stinky farts lol, so I took him off it.

That's the kind I usually used of TOTW. I believe they have a store finder on their site...

Yes! Sidney was itchy and then we found Natural Balance Alpha dog. It's affordable and can be found at Petco. It's grain-free but not too high in protein.

From Petco's site:

When dogs roamed the earth they hunted for their meals in the wild, pursuing the nutritional balance they crave. Natural Balance has created Alpha: a grain-free blend of multiple, high quality proteins, fruits and vegetables. We've balanced your dog's nutritional needs with a formula that goes back to the grain-free benefits of the wild.

We use a unique combination of proteins from trout, salmon meal, and whitefish, combined with the novel source of garbanzo beans to provide a balanced diet for your dog's overall well-being. Grain-free carbohydrate sources, like sweet potatoes, provide the energy your dog needs to thrive in their natural form. Prebiotics feed the beneficial bacteria that reside in a healthy digestive tract so that your dog can maintain optimal digestion. In addition to the legume garbanzo beans - an excellent source of fiber and protein - we have also added blueberries, zucchinis and apples to help your dog achieve a harmonious balance that is both healthy and delicious.

Natural Balance's Limited Ingredient diets are good. The veterinarian I work for recommends this food as an alternative to prescription food. The formulas she likes the best are the venison formula and the bison formula. Her 3rd choice is Salmon. Venison and bison are the better proteins for food allergy dogs. Also, when doing a food trial make sure you don't give any other types of treats unless it's the same formula. For example if you feed Bison and potato food, buy the bison and potato treats. No raw hide or anything like that either.

I would keep your dog on flea prevention all year just in case. My dog has a flea allergy, and if he gets one single flea on him, it's enough to make him itchy for weeks. Food allergy dogs tend to have flea allergies too anyway. Hope this helps!

Question:  Do you have a vet who can do allergy tests?  The reason I ask is that my understanding is more dogs have environmental allergies than food allergies.

Beth you are correct in this. As my vet explained it however, if your dog has an environmental allergy its best to try to get rid of other potential allergens as well (aka fleas, food, and whatever environmental stuff you can control). As she puts it, dogs have an "itch threshold" where they can tolerate a certain amount of itching before they just turn into the deranged itchy monster dog. If we can find a food they tolerate and keep them on year round flea prevention sometimes we can manage the environmental allergies much easier.

Chris- if using the Salmon formula, I would also add in some fish oil (same protein source) to help with his allergies, that way it will help with environmental allergies as well.

And for what Emily said about Bison and Venison, the reason we often choose these 2 proteins over fish is because it is more likely your dog has never been exposed to one of these proteins, meaning it can't have an allergic response to one of these. Since Frosty was on Pedigree it is very likely he has not been exposed to fish unless you have fed fish treats. If you HAVE fed fish treats, try a protein he has never been exposed to before like Venison or Bison. If Frosty has had fish products before you can try Taste of the Wild's Lamb (High Sierra) formula. Its the only other one they carry with just one protein source and lamb is still fairly uncommon in many grocery store dog foods.

Thanks for all the help guys!!

Frosty is on year-round flea preventative.  I use Frontline on him as he needs protection from fleas and ticks.  He is also on Heartguard year-round for heartworm prevention.

The vet is just "hoping" that it is a food allergy which would be easy to determine and easy to fix.  I have purchased a bag of TOTW whatever the salmon flavor is called.  I am waiting until our current obedience class is over to switch him because the vet says absolutely NO TREATS during the 1st 8 weeks on the new food.  Since Frosty is not super motivated to mind in class if I am only offering up dog food for treats, I thought we'd wait.

I tried a new shampoo and conditioner a couple weeks ago that did a really good job of cutting down on his scratching/itching, so he shouldn't feel really tormented until he gets switched to new food.  Vet says if the food change doesn't work, we may need to look into putting him on some sort of anti-allergy medication.  Don't know that I am willing to spend hundreds of $$$ at this time for allergy testing if I can hook him up with some doggy benedryl lol.

And if that offends anyone, I myself have allergies and am unwilling to spend hundreds of $$$ to find out what I am allergic to, so I take benedryl everyday.  I am not treating Frosty anymore poorly than I treat myself!!  (sorry, got in a huge row on facebook today - one of my previous friends stated I was torturing my cat because she had to have stitches/buttons on her ear for 2 weeks.  They said I was mean and should just put her down so she didn't have to suffer.  Ugh, makes me so mad!!)

 

the good news is you don't need doggie benadryl, you can give him human benadryl! :-P Dosing is 1 mg per pound of body weight. Its super safe and doesn't have many side effects except some drowsiness in some pets. 

And ps, did your cat have an ear hematoma? You are doing her a HUGE favor by having it repaired and is such a simple fix, why put her down for that!? Crazy friend, I'd be mad too, especially when its clear he/she has no idea what they are talking about! You are a great owner and I know you will do what is best for all of your pets, don't let people tell you otherwise! I wouldn't allergy test my dog unless he had SUPER SEVERE (think open wounds from scratching, balding, etc) allergies because many times you can't do anything about it anyway when they come up positive for every known allergen in the environment! Allergy shots are expensive, take months and months to even work, and in some cases do nothing in the end anyway so why put so much money into it when you can try other alternatives first and since he doesn't seem to be suffering other then a small amount of itching

She did have a hematoma in her ear from scratching (she had a yeast infection in her ears caused by her allergies!)

Vet said they were going to drain, stitch and button it...

I didn't think they really meant "buttons"

She was not amused lol.  Then turns out they did the surgery all wrong, so I had to take her back into the vet 2 days later to have surgery completely redone.

And they added more buttons...

So now she has to have buttons for the next 2 weeks and I have to put yeast infection drops in her ears until Friday.  Least fun part of this job?  Her name is Miss Princess Pooky Prissypants, but she is nicknamed "Ppants" because every time you have to corner and catch her, she pees on you.

This cat pees on me every morning and every night so that I can put medicine in her ears.  How can anyone say I don't love my animals?  lol!

Your cat is so pretty!

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