I have a boxer, a bull mastiff mix named Leo, who struggles with itching and scratching all the time. It got to the point where I felt so bad for him, not only because he’s my best friend, but because I can tell he felt uncomfortable. I finally had enough and got my vet’s phone number together and went to the vet. Leo was getting rashes on his belly and kept licking his paws to get them infected.
The first thing the vet asked me was, “What kind of food do you feed him?” I responded with “a healthy meal with no corn or by-products.” He said “that’s good, but what’s the formula?” I told him it was chicken. He said he could try feeding it a novel protein, something other than chicken or lamb, which are common ingredients found in dog food. The vet told me that most people walk in and think their dogs are scratching at fleas, but it turns out it’s usually the food they’re feeding. He said that if I try to feed him a healthy dog food with a novel protein, my dog will most likely have a better reaction because he has never been exposed to that specific meat source. The vet said that just like humans, dogs can become allergic to any ingredient at any time. He mentioned a few food options that I could feed him, but I insisted on going home and doing my own in-depth research to see which dog food would be right for my dog. I found many very healthy foods that were grain-free, but I still didn’t know which direction to go. I eventually narrowed it down to a couple of limited ingredient diets that contained a novel protein as the first ingredient, which might work for my dog. The types of dog food I found were very simple, easy on the stomach and skin.
Week after week, Leo became a completely new dog. His skin problems have improved a lot and the areas of dermatitis between his legs have disappeared. His rashes near his belly had also disappeared.
Turns out Leo was simply having a reaction to the chicken. Now, it’s not that chicken is a bad ingredient, but chicken is a cheaper protein and in most of the foods he ate, chicken was the main ingredient. After switching to a novel protein, the skin cleared up.
If your dog has skin problems, take a look at the ingredients on the package of dog food you feed and see what the meat sources are. If you see chicken, beef, or lamb, that’s probably the problem. Also make sure there is no corn, wheat, or soy. Grain-free would be a good option with just one novel protein.