QUESTION: I have an 8-month-old rottweiler puppy that is healthy in all aspects except that he is scratching and chewing areas on his back and sides often. Last September (2012) I took him to the vet to have it looked at. She did a skin scraping and it came out clear. She said she did not see any fleas on him (he is given Advantage Multi drops monthly). She gave him a shot, put him on antibiotics for 2 weeks, gave me 3 tubes of the Advantage Multi (I was to put it on him every 2 weeks for 6 weeks) and a bottle of veterinarian strength fish oil. I feed him Purina One large breed puppy food. His weight and shape are perfect. His activity level is about medium. He has a lot of energy and I let him run on our 5 acres daily. His appetite level is normal for a rottweiler puppy. He cleans out his food bowl (2 cups 3 times a day). The chewing and scratching slowed down a little bit during October, November and December, but it seems to be slowly increasing again. Occasionally he will be laying down and he will jerk suddenly and turn around to chew on his back. Do you have any advice you can give me?
ANSWER: Hi Gloria,
Thanks for giving me a detailed explanation and current diet. That helps me a lot to make any suggestions.
Being only 8 months old, we rarely see food allergies unless the parents have been fed a bad diet. But it sounds like you've ruled out most other things it could be.
The first thing I would do is through out any and all Purina products you have. This, along with others like Science Diet, Iams, Beneful and more are the reasons so many people come to us with skin and coat issues with their dogs.
It's not your fault or any of the others, it's just a lack of knowledge of how the ingredients play a role in our dogs health. Your vet will be of no help because they only know medicine and not nutrition. They most communally give a steroid type shot and prescribe antibiotics.
When a dog has a yeast problem along with the food allergy, these things just make them worse.
If you've read any of my previous post you will see a common theme among them. There are just certain things you need for your dog and certain things you need to stay away from.
As mentioned, you need to learn what ingredients cause 90% of the problems with dogs. These are wheat, corn, soy, by-products, artificial coloring's, chemical preservatives, animal fat, animal digest to just name a few.
If you read the ingredients of your Purina product, you will notice several of these items listed on there.
The main allergy causing ones are the wheat, corn, soy and by-products. These are responsible for most all food allergies we see and the other bad ingredients cause other health issues.
Proteins can cause allergies as well but it usually takes years of being on one protein to cause this. In your case, it could just be the wheat, corn and gluten in his food starting to get to him.
It's not only the bad ingredients these commercial foods put in their product but the quality of the ingredients are usually sub par. They typically use feed lot animals that are not fit for human consumption and other low grade ingredients.
Premium dog foods we consider do not contain ANY of those ingredients and are typically produced with free range or at least healthy proteins.
If you are going to feed a dry food, I would suggest a premium one like Orijen Puppy, or Chicken Soup For The Large Breed Puppy, or another premium large breed formula.
You didn't mention any wet foods. You absolutely need to feed wet foods. A dog on dry or even mostly dry diet will actually live in a mild state of dehydration. This is hard on their internal organs and their skin and coat.
A dogs natural diet is meat. This is a very high moisture content diet. Dry foods contain very little moisture. They need a lot of moisture in their diets to keep their organs thriving. Drinking water does not count.
You want at least half his diet in premium wet foods.
Of course, the best diet in the world by far is a raw food based diet. This type diet will create great health and allow a dog to thrive the way nature intended them to. They were never meant to eat a cooked food diet. We just do this for our convenience, not for their health.
We feed only a raw based diet to our dogs and cats. We've rescued many dogs and brought them back to great health by transitioning them to a raw diet. We've turned the health around for many of our customers dogs and cats by introducing a raw diet.
It's hard to replace the "live" food factors that are contained in their natural diet. There are many commercially made raw foods for dogs that are complete nutrition so you don't have to go to the grocery store and just pick up raw foods.
These commercially prepared foods typically contain the ground up bone and organ meat needed to balance the nutrition. They typically come in easy to serve sizes and are frozen.
You can use this for every meal, one meal a day or just an occasional royal meal. The more you do, the better.
If you do no or cannot feed a raw diet, then you MUST supplement with some products that will at least give him better nutrition breakdown.
These are enzymes and probiotics. These two vital nutrients are found naturally in a raw food diet but are destroyed when you cook foods. The lack of these two nutrients are the reason so many dogs are developing degenerative type diseases.
They support the digestive system and that is the heart of their immune system. You can purchase supplements in a powder form and just sprinkle on each meal. Animal Essentials makes a good one that has both the enzymes and probiotics in one.
We feed a raw based diet and we still add extra enzymes and probiotics. It's that important.
The fish pills are fine. A better source is canned sardines in water. They are a whole food source and they contain a full chain of omega 3's and 6's. A can a week for him would be great.
So that's basically it for a proper balanced diet. You can add occasional things like a couple eggs, raw if they are organic, some cottage cheese now and then, same with a little yogurt, so good lean proteins left over from dinner, some chopped veggies and similar good things. Switch up his protein sources often. The more variety you can put in his diet, the stronger his digestive system will be.
That is the basics of a good healthy diet. Keep researching all you can, his long healthy life depends on it.
Keep the wheat, corn and other bad ingredients out of his diet and introduce good, healthy foods and he'll do fine.
My wife and I did write a book on this subject as well. It contains most of what I talked about above and a lot more. It's published on Amazon so if you have a Kindle or Kindle app, you can grab a copy for only $2.99. There is also a paperback version as well but it's a little more.
You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Food-Decoded-Healthy-ebook/dp/B008LX6WGY/ref=sr_1_2?ie
We will be coming out with a book just on raw foods for dogs as well soon.
This along with other good holistic care for dogs books are a great source for information to keep your big boy going strong.
I know this has been a lot of information and you'll probably have some more questions. If so, please feel free to write back and let me know if I can be of any further help.
Let me know if I can do anything else for you,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you very, very much for your very informative answer. I will do a better job reading the ingredients in his food before purchasing it. I am trying to purchase the best food for him that I can on my income level. Unfortunately, I live alone and only make school secretary wages. I want to do the best I can for my dog, but can't pay for things that are too expensive. His vet bill for 3 visits was over $300 which put a strain on my budget. I will change to a better dog food per your recommendation and will look into getting him some of the supplements you suggested. He does get a 1/2 can of wet food twice a day mixed with his dry, but it isn't a premium brand (it's Alpo). With my income level, it would probably be best to stick with smaller dogs, but I just love rotties. This puppy is my third. My son got me a Kindle for Christmas so I will look into getting your book.
Sorry if this is the second answer on this you recieve, I forgot to put a link in the first one to a good food.
You're very welcome Gloria.
The full title of the eBook is Dog Food Decoded - How To Choose A Healthy Diet For Your Dog and Your Budget.
So basically, we go over the reasons why premium foods are not more expensive and other things you can do to supplement your dog.
Budgets are a very big concern for many of our customers. We want the best for our pets but we can't always get everything they need.
In the book we lay out why premium foods are not any more expensive than commercial foods. It's all about the absorb-ability of the foods.
The Purina dog food is a high grain based food. So for your dog would have to feed more for him to get the nutrition he needs. With premium foods, the protein and good ingredients are higher so you would feed less.
We did a quick review of one of the worse foods, Beneful, and one of our best grain free premium foods, Instinct. When we broke it down to "cost per serving" and how much to feed a 20lb dog with both brands, the cost difference was only a couple of cents per meal. I think one was .30 per meal and one was .32 meal or something like that.
When you factor this in with the health issues the commercial dog will suffer through and the potential vet bills, there really is no cost comparison.
I understand laying out $75 instead of $50 for a bag makes a big difference but over the course of a month and potential health issues, premium foods are a real bargain.
The Alpo wet foods will also cause many health issues.
You may want to look at Chicken Soup For The Large Breed Puppy food as this is one of the lowest cost premium foods we carry. And it is a very good food and had very good independent ratings.
Here is a link to there site, http://www.chickensoupforthepetloverssoul.com/products/puppies/dry_food/large_br
you can click on the button that says "where to buy" and find a place near your zip code.
For wet foods, I would look at Natural Balance premium canned foods. In our store they sell from around $2 a can. This is a very good price for grain free can foods.
Many of the small independent pet food stores will also offer a discount for buying a case at a time.
Always look on their site or the store you shop at for coupons and specials.
You can also supplement some with some veggies to stretch things out. Just don't go over about 15% of the meal with them.
For the VERY important enzymes and probiotics, you can purchase a supplement like from Animal Essentials for around $12 off Amazon or your local natural pet food store. It's the small bottle but will last you a while as you use just a little on each meal. This is a very good enzyme and probiotic formula. We use it with our dogs and cats even though we feed a raw food diet.
Other things for enzymes are some fresh veggies ground up. A little fruit like bananas, pineapple or papaya will also provide some good enzymes.
A little yogurt each day will provide the probiotics needed.
So the more you can do the better but it's understandable that all you can do is all you can do. And that's all anyone can ask. A little here and a little there will help. Just be informed about sources and when you can do something different, you do it.
The Purina and Alpo are some very bad foods. I hope you can make the transition soon as he will reap the rewards.
I know you've been through a lot with the vet bills and all. If you want, I will gift you a copy of our eBook. I would just need to know an email address to send it to. Amazon will provide a link so you can download the copy to your Kindle. The email address will have to be associated with your Amazon account.
The only thing I ask in return is that you pass along the information on good nutrition you learn to someone else that has pets. The more we can do this, the less many pets will suffer from unneeded, costly diseases. The dog suffers right along with the parents.
Again, let me know if you have any more questions with any of this, I'm happy to help.