I have a boxer, a mix of mastiffs of bulls named Leo, who is constantly struggling with itching and scratching. It got to the point where I felt so bad for him not only because he’s my best friend, but because I can say he was uncomfortable. In the end I had enough, I collected my vet’s phone number and made a trip to the vet. Leo had rashes on his belly and kept licking his paws if they were getting infected.
The first thing the vet asked me was “what kind of food do you feed him?” I replied with “a healthy food without corn or by-products”. He said “that’s good but what’s the formula?” I told him it was chicken. He said I might want to try feeding a new protein, something other than chicken beef or lamb, which are common ingredients found in dog food. The vet told me that most people come in and think their dogs are scratching from fleas, but it turns out that it is usually the food they are feeding. He said that if I try to feed healthy dog food with a novelty protein, my dog will probably have a better reaction because he has never been exposed to that specific source of meat. The vet said that just like humans, dogs can become allergic to any ingredient at any time. He had mentioned a few food options that I could feed, but I insisted on going home and doing my thorough research for myself to see which dog food would be right for my dog. I ran into many very healthy foods that were grain free, but I still didn’t know which direction to take. In the end I reduced it to a few limited ingredient diets that contained a novel protein as the first ingredient, which could work for my dog. The types of dog food I found were very simple, easy on the stomach and skin.
From week to week Leo has become a completely new dog. Her skin problems have improved significantly and areas of dermatitis between her legs have disappeared. Her rashes near her belly were also gone.
It turns out that Leo was simply reacting to the chicken. Now chicken is not a bad ingredient, but chicken is a cheaper protein and in most of the foods he has eaten, chicken was the main ingredient. After the transition to protein novelty the skin cleared.
If your dog has skin problems, take a look at the ingredients on the dog food packaging you feed and see what the sources of meat are. If you see chicken, beef or lamb, this is likely to be the problem. Also make sure there is no corn, wheat or soy. Grain-free would be a good choice with a single novelty protein.