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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I have a 1.5 year old male Vizsla, and we've struggled to find a good food for him for a while. We've tried a couple different things, the vet had him on I/D for a long time because of loose stools. We thought we had it mostly under control, with a duck/rice food, omega oils, and canned pumpkin, but he still has loose stools every other day or so, which I'm not happy with.

He also has had a lot of skin weirdness- he seems to keep getting bacterial infections on his skin (that's what the vet said anyway), and just lately, he's developed a slight red rash on his armpits and a strip on his belly. Plus a few tiny white bumps on his head- they've since subsided but took some of the fur with them. I doubt it's a grass allergy... we live in Anchorage, and there is no grass right now :) He does walk through deep snow occasionally though.

So my question is, does this sound like maybe he has a grain allergy? What would be the best food to try next? I was hoping something I could get fairly easily, Petco or Petsmart. Natures Variety, perhaps?
 

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There are plenty of grain free dogs food on the market.
I would look at the ones that are high in protein and fat for a V. Have you thought of having him tested for his allergies? Otherwise its just a hit or miss on buying the right food. Then you also have to consider any treats you give him.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
We haven't considered testing him yet, but maybe we will. We thought for a while it was chicken- Wellness chicken food was really hard on his stomach. Poor dog gets NO treats. Kongs and Nylabones and his food, and that's it.
 

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My Riley was at the vet at least once a week for a year (after his hips got fixed) for bacterial skin infections, yeast infections, rashes, everything all over him. His ears, jowls, everywhere. The vet finally thought it was a food allergy, but sent us on to a dermatologist. Immediately, she said it wasn't food. We went thru the intradermal skin testing for Riley and of the 80 some odd tests, he was allergic to an extreme level to over 65 items. We started shots and over the next few months he had improved immensely. Now we are on a benadryl, anti-yeast med and allergy meds and he only goes in for his checkups now.
 

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Having had similar problems with my wire-haired vizsla - can I suggest that you might have 2 problems. The loose bowls are very likely food related, although not necessarily allergy related. Dogs do not digest grain, which will often give them loose stools. So yes try a good quality grain free kibble or cut out kibble altogether and buy meat/ fish yourself and feed it on its own. You might find it interesting to research on exclusion diets to try and find out what he is allergic to.

The itching and redness under the arms is probably an environmental allergy. As it has settled down it may have been something your dog came into contact with for a short time. There are lots of things like household cleaning products, grasses (maybe not in your case) house mites, storage mites and some plants that cause skin redness and itchy skin. My dogs' dermatologist says most dogs that have allergies, develop allergies between 18 months and 3 years. That was certainly the case with my dog.

Most dogs with food allergies are able to have dried venison as a treat - which they love.
 

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Another strange allergy free treat is marshmallows. When our derm does a foot trial, they're allowed marshmallows in moderation. :-\
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone! I picked up some Merrick grain-free food today, so we'll slowly transition him to that that and see if it helps.

Good tips on the rash being something environmentally related. I hadn't considered environmental allergies a whole lot since we don't have the typical grass, pollen, etc, but now that I think about it, he did get a new bed (a huge fluffy one that he loves) around the same time the rash started. So I'll try washing that / taking it away for a bit and see if it clears up.

Dried venison & marshmallows sound great-- every dog should be able to have a treat every once in a while! :) Thanks again for the tips- I think I'm on the right track to figuring this out.
 

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You mentioned his bed and that made me remember that of course we hadn't realized it, but Riley's bed in his crate was a wool one. Wool is one of his highest allergies. What is your bed made of?
 

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Be very careful what you wash bedding and dog towels, etc in. A lot of modern detergents and fabric conditioners cause allergic reactions both to dogs and humans. I was advised to use a pure soap product called Surcare.

Today we use all sorts of stain removers along with biological detergents - me included. I run out of the regular detergent that I normally use and washed a hold load of dirty jeans, etc in Surcare and couldn't believe how clean and soft everything came out. Makes me wonder what is in the other stuff :'(
 

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While dogs can process some grain and as scavengers are certainly more than capable of surviving on anything they find, it is not an ideal food for them. I'm not in the camp that dogs should only eat bone, meat, and organs, but their dentition suggests they are much better suited for that than something like a cow which has teeth and multiple stomach chambers designed to break down grain or even a true omnivore like a human which has a range of teeth for everything from grinding to tearing.

Horse poop is supposed to have tons of probiotics. Clearly they're just self-medicating. ;)

"Let us forget the wolf-dog relations for a moment. Let us just look at the dog itself and listen to what its body can tell us about its diet. The dog has the anatomy and physiology of a predatory carnivore, of a hunter designed to subsist on other animals. It has the skull and jaw design of a carnivore: a deep and C-shaped mandibular fossa that prevents lateral movement of the jaw (lateral movement is necessary for eating plant matter). The jaw muscles are designed for crushing grips and powerful bites, with a jaw that hinges open widely to help gulp chunks of meat and bone. The teeth of the dog are pointed and specialized for ripping, tearing, shearing, and crushing meat and bone. Their saliva lacks amylase, the enzyme responsible for beginning carbohydrate breakdown; instead, they have lysozyme in their saliva, an enzyme that destroys pathogenic bacteria. They have highly elastic stomachs designed to stretch to capacity with ingested meat and bone, complete with incredibly powerful and acidic stomach acid (pH of 1). Their intestines are short and smooth, designed to push meat through quickly so that it does not sit and putrefy in the gut. Their external anatomy also shows development as a hunter. They have eyes situated in the front of their skulls rather than to the side like an herbivore. The body (prior to man-made manipulation of things like size and angulation) is built for chasing down prey, and its senses are acutely developed to help locate prey. By all accounts, this is an animal designed to eat other animals."
http://rawfed.com/myths/changed.html

Kibble has been around for only a fraction of the time humans and dogs have coexisted. Raw is more than a fad, though undoubtedly it is fadish at the moment. It was interesting to see in Happy People that the hunter just tossed some raw meaty bone to his dog. I don't think it's too much of an assumption that others have done the same since domestication started.

I'm glad kibble is working out for your dogs! Like I've said, I've had a dog live to 15 on a grain-based kibble along with pizza crusts, scraps and the occasional piece of stolen chocolate. I wish there would be more studies on the effects of different diets on dogs' health. Health issues are certainly influenced by a number of factors, but it seems to be an accepted fact that whole foods are better than processed foods for humans. Why would it be different for any other creature?
 

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WillowyndRanch said:
hotmischief said:
The loose bowls are very likely food related, although not necessarily allergy related. Dogs do not digest grain, which will often give them loose stools.
With respect - Wrong. Do people think they can't digest a piece of bread? the leftover Pizza crusts? All grains...

Do they digest whole kernel corn - no. Neither do humans. That is not the same as not being able to digest processed (milled) grain found in premium dog kibble.

It's either that, or I and almost all other pro trainers competing at the highest levels of competition must be the anomaly. I have fed Purina Pro (now Sport) performance for years. High quality kibble with grain for on about 35 years. Rarely do the dogs get a loose stool, and if it is, it is typically diagnosed through a stool sample as giardia or some other bacterial issue picked up somewhere, not feed related.

However, the owner mandated grain free diet dogs that come in often have loose stools. I know, because they are a pain to clean up.

Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores. That means they eat all manner of food, and pretty much whatever is available. Why is it, if left to choose on their own the best dog treat in the world to a dog horse poop? It's certainly not meat based - it's mostly still grass and grain byproduct. The domesticated dog has, over the past few thousand years, adapted genetically to human feed - including the ability to digest starches - but that goes against the grain free/Raw fad of the past 5 or so years.

"Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs."http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v495/n7441/full/nature11837.html
Ken
I really miss the 'White' dogs poo of the 1970's you never see this anymore!!!!

No more Sunday dinners for our dogs!!!!!' ;)

Hobbsy
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This is very interesting. I really didn't have anything against food with grain- this is our first dog so we're still figuring it all out. But- we have had him on 2 different types of purina (pro plan chicken and focus duck/potato) for quite a while- and still not much improvement in his poo. So I figured it is time to try something totally different, in case he is indeed sensitive to grain.

I've also taken away his new bed (which I checked, isn't wool, but is simply synthetic fibers of some sort), and am making sure that all the detergent I'm using is no different than before. His rash isn't getting any worse or bothering him at all, so I'm hoping it'll clear up soon. I don't know much about this, but thought maybe it could even just be dry skin. (It's very cold and very dry here and us humans seem to constantly have dry skin!). Time will tell, I suppose!
 

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I understand that you think that if you use the same detergent as you always used he will be fine, as he was a while back.

Big mistake - you/ dog can not be allergic to something that is new. They have to become allergic to something. The dog builds up allergens over a period of time which then go on to cause an allergic reaction. So it is more than likely that his skin is allergic to something that has been in his environment for sometime, not something you have used once or twice more recently.
 

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Something I recently heard while researching dog foods/food allergies: if you change a dog over to a new food and you think it's due to allergies it takes a good 3 months for them to fully adapt to the new food and at least 3 weeks for the old food to get out of their system. So if you do a food trial for allergies give it 3 months and you likely won't see any changes for at least a month. Just something to keep in mind- allergies are not easy and hard to pin point. Doing too many things at once or too quickly will not lead you to the conclusions you want, unfortunately.
 

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Hmm I figured it wouldn't be easy. He's always seemed to have some trouble with his skin- first it was a skin infection when he was very young (red/pink paws).. this summer, he had a hotspot on his face that still has some fur that hasn't grown back. And now this new rash on his belly/underarms. In any of your experience, can chronic skin infections (like he has) + consistently soft stool = some sort of food allergy?

For those of you that have done allergy testing before, is it a very common procedure? Is it very expensive or hard on the dog? It seems Dagger's skin problems always are the worst when he's stressed out, so I'd like to minimize that as much as possible :)
 

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Yes allergy testing is expensive. Boris had mainly environmental allergies so the dermatologist did a blood test. That was £200. He is now on Atopica which is expensive but really stops the itching. He is undergoing anti allergen injections which work for about 75% of dogs if this works that would be really good as he could come off the Atopica and just have monthly injections. Skin testing is done under general anithesthic so will also be expensive.

Fortunately Boris is insured and all the treatments and drugs have been covered by his insurance.

I would say I did manage to sort the soft stools out before the red itchy skin really started. Boris is now on a raw diet but I did try lots of good quality kibbles in the process. He did have good stools on ACANA - but I personally prefer the raw diet.

You might find this link interesting

http://www.halopets.com/pet-education/pet-articles/allergies-in-dogs.html
 

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For the record, I have a male Vizsla and we confirmed that skin infections & issues were caused by a food allergy. We initially thought it was a protein allergy & switched from lamb to chicken, but recently switched to a different chicken (and back), so now we're certain it was the grain.

The skin conditions themselves consisted of visible splotchy redness where hair is thinner (armpits/belly), small lumps on head & ears, losing hair in some spots, and overall itchiness. He also had a much stronger smell than normal. Symptoms first came on in Spring/summer, which first led us & to our vet to think seasonal allergies, which was wrong!

Good luck to anyone facing this issue, and I can confirm that going to grain free food solved it for us.
 
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