Sophie has had some serious skin problems in the past year. She has been scratching at herself a lot, and it has gotten so bad that she has rubbed the fur off herself in places. At first we attributed it to flea medication, but we stopped giving her Frontline when the weather got cold and it didn't get better. We took her to the vet, who agreed that it could be the flea medication, or it could be a food allergy. We tried a very expensive prescription food he recommended--no change. Then we wondered if she might have mange, but no to that too.
Then a couple of different people mentioned wheat allergies to me. In every case, they mentioned a dog who had always been healthy, but at 5-7 years old developed severe skin rashes. Sophie turned 5 in January.....one of these friends mentioned allergy testing at the vet, but when pressed admitted that it probably would end up costing three to five hundred dollars when all was said and done. (We've already spent a fair chunk on the vet trying to get help, to no avail.) So we tried a couple of different foods that said they were good for sensitive skin. No change.
Then we sat down and talked about it, and realized that even with these special foods, Sophie still licks out cat food cans (contains wheat fillers), eats dog biscuits (wheat again), cleans off plates or licks food up the kids have dropped (could be pasta or bread there)....plus, when we looked at the Iams food she's eating now, we realized that although it's lamb and rice, specifically for sensitive stomach and skin, with no fillers or preservatives--it has corn in it. No wheat, but corn. I went to the pet store today and talked to a very nice and seemingly knowledgeable guy about this, and he said that corn and wheat are both highly allergenic for dogs. So the new plan is to use this really expensive food I bought today, and be very careful about what else she eats--no biscuits, no licking up the cat food cans, no people food unless it's wheat and corn free, and see if it helps. If her skin gets better, we can experiment with the Iams to see if the corn doesn't irritate her if she's healthy (maybe it's only bad when her skin is rashy...or so we hope!)
I ended up getting Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Fish---and at $47 for 28 pounds---I am really hoping it will work! All it has in it is sweet potatoes, salmon, canola oil, flaxseed and salmon oil, other than vitamins of course. No preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and of course no grain of any sort. We're thinking that after we do some research, we may supplement her with eggs and even meat parts from the butcher---the canned food in the high end aisle at the pet store ran nearly $2 a can, which isn't going to happen!
All I have to say is, if this is really a food allergy our streak is over! We have always said we are very lucky as a family to have no real allergies--none to food, none to pollen, mold, or anything else other than Rachel's extreme sensitivity to poison ivy. I guess if someone has to have an allergy I'd rather it was Sophie....and I really hope this does the trick. Wish us luck!