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Dogs/itchy, flakey skin and hairloss


My Border Collie Lab mix has flakey skin which is causing itching and hair loss on her back side, hind legs, around her tail and inner hips. I have taken her to the vet and had a skin test done. She tested negative and vet seems to think she has a flee allergy. She has been on flee preventative meds, eats grain free (authority Chicken and Potato) food and is now taking an antibiotic and steroid. I have not noticed any change in her skin condition. We have 3 other dogs and none are experiencing any skin issues.  Please help!

Hi Lahny,

As long as you've had her in for skin test and they come back negative, we can concentrate on her diet and see if we can fix things.

If it was a flea allergy, another common allergy, you would be seeing fleas and/or flea specs. These are easy to spot as they are tiny little black specs. This is a sure sign that fleas have been there.

If she's been on flea meds, most likely she does not have flea allergies unless the product you were using didn't do it's job.

Be careful with ongoing flea meds. The chemical ones WILL cause immune problems and can contribute to skin and coat problems. There are natural chemical free treatments that you can use ongoing without problems.

Next we look at her diet and her age. We need to look at how long she's been on the Authority and what she's had before that. I mention her age because the longer a dog has been on one food or one protein, the more chances they are of developing an allergy towards that protein.

If she's a few years old or older and has been on mainly chicken based dry foods, she could have developed an allergy towards chicken itself.

If she's been on a variety of proteins, then you need to dig further into the ingredients to see where a common allergy substance may be to blame.

If she smells bad at all, it could be a yeast allergy and that will take another course of action to fight it.

If it is a yeast problem, the antibiotics and steroids she's on will just make it worse. Typically these are most always prescribed by the vet as an attempt to correct ANY skin and coat allergy. They are mostly trying to make sure there is no secondary infection behind the allergy. The steroids will just temporarily reduce inflammation.

It will calm them down very temporarily and the problems will come back. She will be hungrier on these meds as well.

I see that Authority does have flax seed oil in it. We have seen a number of dogs that have developed allergies towards flax seed.

So those are two possibilities to try for now. I would get her on a good grain free food that is NOT chicken and does not have flax seed oil in it.

A couple come to mind, Solid Gold's Barking At The Moon, Taste Of The Wild's Salmon formula, or one of the best and most premium foods is the Orijen Six Fish formula.

Any of these will get her away from the main chicken protein and flax seed oil.

Lab and Lab mixes are our number one customer in our store that comes in with skin and coat and sensitive tummy issues. They are more sensitive than most breeds.  

Most of the time they have been on a commercial brand food that contains a lot of wheat, corn, soy, by-products and/or other allergy causing ingredients. When this happens, we put them on a very simple formula to get most everything out of their diet and build up from there.

The most popular formula for that is the Natural Balance Duck and Potato formula. Very basic and simple ingredients.

But you are a little more aware of this and you have her on a good formula. We just need to see what, if anything in there is causing the problems.

A couple of other things we need to look at and/or add to her diet, if you don't already, is some wet foods and supplements of enzymes and probiotics.

If you don't have her on some wet foods, you really need to start. Dogs, by nature are meat eaters which is a high moisture diet of around 70%. Dry foods only have around 10% moisture. A dog on dry or mostly dry food only diet will actually live in a mild state of dehydration.

This issue is compounded on a high protein grain free food as they will need to drink a lot of water to make up for the lack of moisture in their food. This puts a strain on the kidney.

She should have at least half her diet in premium grain free wet foods or equivalent. Lack of moisture in the diet will have a drying effect on their skin and coat.

Of course the best diet by far for her would be a raw food based diet. This provides needed moisture, is unprocessed, contains natural "live" needed nutrients like enzymes and probiotics and they just like it better.

There are many commercially prepared raw food formulas for dogs that make feeding this type of diet very easy. Most are fully balanced with ground up bone and organ meat in it to provide needed nutrients.

If this type of diet interest you, please write back on this same question and I'll be happy to talk it over with you more.

We have healed many dogs and cats successfully by transitioning them over to a raw food based diet. This is the way nature intended our pets to eat and thrive on the best.

We feed exclusively raw based diet to our dogs and cats. We rescue dogs from high kill shelters as we can. Most come to us with health conditions. We transition them to a raw food diet with added supplements as needed and turn their health around. We then find good homes for them and educate the new owners on the diet.

It takes less raw food to feed dogs as it is absorbed so much higher. This meaning they utilize more of the food and their is less waste. So it can be cost effective as part or all of their diet.

For now, just make sure she is getting plenty of wet foods in her diet. This is much better than dry food and much easier on her digestive system. Girls really need the high moisture as it helps keep their urinary track flushed.

The key nutrients that are missing in most all processed dog foods are the enzymes and probiotics. These are found naturally in raw foods but when you cook food, you destroy these vital nutrients.

Dogs, cats and people need enzymes and probiotics in their diet for good long term health. When these are not present in the diet, the body has to produce the needed enzymes to digest the foods. This is called enzyme robbing and taxes internal organs over time.

Incomplete digestion is a major cause of malnutrition and thus, skin and coat issue, weight gain, arthritis and a host of others.

A dog can be on a good diet but if they are not completely breaking down the foods, they are not getting the needed nutrition from what they do eat.

Probiotics are extremely critical as they provide the needed "good" bacteria in the intestinal system to fight off "bad" bacteria. When the bad bacteria overwhelms the good, that can lead to all kinds of diseases and skin and coat conditions.

I contribute the lack of enzymes and probiotics in dogs diets as the number one reason why there are so many dogs with diseases filling up the vets office. Vets will not tell you about this, they are just not trained in nutrition but everyone thinks that they are.

You can purchase enzymes and probiotics in a powder form and just sprinkle on their food at each meal time.

Animal Essentials makes a good one that contains both in one bottle. Even though we feed a raw based diet, we still add these enzymes and probiotics to their food. This just gives their bodies that much more help digesting and processing the food.

Just adding enzymes and probiotics have healed many dogs and cats we've dealt with.

So you need to see if any of this makes sense to you or not. You could be doing some or all of this and I just don't know.

Whatever you do and/or change, do it slowly and give it some time. When a dog has a bad allergy, they can take 30-60 days to start getting better. Sometimes they tend to get worse before getting better. This is when the bad stuff is leaving the body. But most times we see some needed relief from the scratching.

If she is scratching bad and has sore spots, you can get some apple cider vinegar and mix 50/50 with water in a bottle. Get her all wet and pour this mixture all over her. Let sit for 5 minutes then rinse. This will balance her skins PH level for a while and give her some relief.

If you have additional questions or would like to add more information, please just respond back to this same question and we can go from there.

Let me know what you think and/or with any other questions.



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Roger McLeskey


Can answer all nutritional information for all dogs. Common problems with food, supplements, weight control, allergies, fleas, etc. Questions regarding raw food, homemade food, skin & coat issues, ect. Can't and/or will not do medicinal type questions that the vet takes care of.


I am certified in Dog Nutrition. Over 6 years now I've owned a natural pet food retail store. I've worked with hundreds of dogs and there owners to achieve better health. We promote a healthy balanced species related diet. This is the way nature made your pet to thrive. Fortunately for those who cannot or wish not to feed a raw based diet, there are alternatives with supplements and cooked food. Just don't let processed food be there only diet. Food is the most powerful medicine. Heal the core of the animal and the rest will take care of itself. We've turned the lives of many dogs around. There parents come back into the store and comment to us on how there dog acts like a real dog again. Our business is thriving and we continue to help many.

We work with Second Chance Companions, Must Love Dogs, members of ASPCA, HSUSA and started our own personal "Red Head Rescue" (non chartered) for stray dogs and rescue dogs from high kill shelters. We've been able to heal the many health ailments these dogs have and place them in good homes.

Dog Food Decoded - How To Choose A Health Diet For Your Dog and Your Budget - Available on Amazon in Kindle format or Paperback. Various articles for in store and web.

Certified - Canine Nutrition Level Three. Last 7 years I've been working with veterinarians, holistic veterinarians, attending seminars and best of all, real life experience with hundreds of customer dogs and cats. I've seen what works and does not work. Feeding a proper species appropriate diet works for most ailments. We've taken away our petís natural diet and caused most of todayís problems.

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