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Hello! I happened upon your site after researching my dogs skin rashes and hair loss.  My red lab is just over a year old and has had a ton of issues. He has dry skin and ear mites so the vet gave us a antibiotic some fatty oil pills.  He also gave us a shampoo for sensitive skin. I mentioned the dog food we were giving him and he didn't seem to be concerned.  I had read about dog food and decided since our last lab died just before his seventh birthday we would only give our new puppy corn free food.  I found some at tractor supply I don't remember what it was called. But all was good for the most part and then I switched from puppy to dog food. And I switched him to Rachel Ray. I thought it was supposed to be a good food but it seems maybe that's when our dog maybe started having issues. I thought it was fleas but it wasn't . He had sores and is constantly loosing hair. I had him to the vet several times but nothing has helped. My husband bought purina and I know now that's awful for him. He is half way through abag and we have been switching him over to a whole earth farms dog food recommended by a woman at petco who seemed to be very knowledgeable. I guess my question is in the mean time what can we do for him? We now have him on a better food but  haven't noticed significant changes yet. We also bought the salmon oil to put on his food but didn't want to overload his system to quickly and cause other problems. Is there any way to speed up the process of the hair loss or sores?  Thanks!

Answer
Hi Stacey,

Sorry to hear you are having such problems, but I'm glad you are taking the time to do the research needed to give your dog better health.

This might be a little long as I need you to understand some basics and then we can get to some helpful suggestions.

Labs are the number one dog by far that we've seen come into our store with skin and coat issues and food allergies. They seem to be more sensitive than other breeds.

Your findings about corn and other not so healthy ingredients can ruin a dogs health are very right. Another one of the biggest culprits is wheat. More dogs seem to become allergic to wheat and I think corn is number two.

Any high grain based dog food can cause problems. As a matter of fact, dry dog food itself is the worst diet for any dog. Even the best dry food in the world is not healthy for them.

The problems are that it is dry, void of moisture. A dogs natural diet is meat, a high moisture substance or around 70% moisture. Where dry foods are around 7-10%.

So a dog on dry food only will actually live in a mild state of dehydration. This effects their internal organs and the skin and coat.

It is also the most highly processed foods you can give a dog. This extra baking/processing causes high levels of carcinogenics.

We believe dry food only diets cause cancer, diabetes, kidney failure and a host of other diseases in young dogs. As many as 50% of dogs on dry food only diets will develop cancer before 10 years old. After 10 as many as 90% will suffer this or other diseases.

Dry dog foods were made for our convenience and not for their health. It was concocted by big grain companies as a way to get rid of waste products. This took off until we see the levels of grains in today's cheap commercial foods.

I hate to sound so dramatic about this but it's a fact and we see it on a daily basis.

Dry food can have its place as it will help with cost for feeding big dogs or when people have multiple dogs.

All you can do is all you can do for any dog and your budget. We don't judge anyone who is trying to do the best they can with their budget. We totally understand.

Now, if you want to go totally opposite to the best diet in the world for any dog, that would be a raw food diet. This is their natural diet that mother nature intended them to eat and thrive on. It has the "live" nutrients naturally in it that all the canned and dry foods do not have. This makes them ALL incomplete nutrition.

You can add supplements back into a diet that will help mimic a raw natural diet with the live ingredients. The two main ones are enzymes and probiotics. These are found naturally in raw foods. But when you cook foods, these vital nutrients are destroyed rendering the food incomplete.

There are many commercial manufacturers of raw foods for dogs on the market these days. They take raw meats and grind them with bones for calcium and organ meat for other vitamins and minerals. Most are completely balanced.

They typically come frozen in many sizes and shapes to accommodate any size dog.

I'm not saying you have to go this route, it's just that it's the best and fastest way to good health.

We feed raw foods exclusively to our dogs and cats. We also rescue some dogs from kill shelters in California and bring them up to us. Many come to us in bad condition with weight, skin and coat issues and other health problems.

We start them with good canned foods and supplement with enzymes and probiotics right away. After a few days, we start to transition them to a raw food diet. This heals them the fastest and they turn their lives around.

We then find permanent homes for them and offer to show the new parents how best to feed them moving forward.

This would be the best plan for your dog if you want to go that route. If not, I would get him on a grain free diet. Mostly canned if you can and if you have to, some grain free dry food.

Keep "ALL" grains out of his diet. Once a dogs has developed an allergy to some grains, he should not have even the healthy grains as this can still cause reactions.

The Whole Earth Farms food does seem to be a decent food but it does have rice and barley in it. Barley has gluten in it and this can trigger allergic reactions. This you want to stay away from.

Some of the better brands of good grain free foods include Orijen, Accana, Wilderness by Blue Buffalo, Taste Of The Wild, Great Life, Instinct, Before Grains, Wellness has it's Core brand of grain free and there are many others.

Natures Variety's Instinct is a good one to go check out since they also make canned, raw, dry and freeze dried foods. You can read about the different foods all over their site. They are located at http://www.naturesvariety.com/. You can also put in your zip code to find where to buy it in your area.

There raw is very good and complete and comes is several sizes. But it's the most expensive one we carry. If you can find local sources they are usually a little less expensive. But it is very cost effective as you feed less since there is so much better absorption. It's all about what gets absorbed and what passes through your dog as to the cost of feeding.

Now, it's very important for you do start giving your dog some enzymes and probiotics in every meal. This will help him heal. It will allow him to get more nutrients out of whatever he is eating and the probiotics will help re-build him immune system.

A good one we use and like is from Animal Essentials. They make a powder that contains both of these vital ingredients that you can just sprinkle on his meals. It's the number one thing anyone can do for any dog or cat, by far. You can find this at many local Natural Pet Food stores or on Amazon. Their website for more info on these as well as some other immune builders is here: http://www.animalessentials.com/#products:67

As well as the Plant Enzymes and Probiotics, Animal Essentials has many very good products that I like. You might search out a couple to supplement with.

Even though we feed raw, we still add enzymes and probiotics to EVERY meal. This just helps their digestive system out that much more. A strong digestive system means a strong immune system.

So feed him as much grain free canned as you can afford to do, supplement with grain free dry as needed and apply the enzymes and probiotics.

The more wet the better but if you can at least get him up to half wet and half dry then that's the least you want to do.

Starting him with the enzymes and probiotics will also help him transition to any other foods much better. As anything you do now since he is in this condition, you have to start real slow and work your way up.

Any green type supplements are also helpful. Like spiruina, kelp and others. These will help build his immune system. You want a strong immune system to fight off allergic reactions and other diseases.

If he is suffering right now with constant itching, you can get some organic apple cider vinegar and mix half water and half vinegar and put this in a bottle.

Get him all wet with luke warm water like you were going to give him a bath. Then when he's all wet, pour this vinegar mixture all over him and rub in a little. Let this sit on his skin for about 5 minutes then rinse off.

The vinegar will help neutralize his skin and give him some needed relief.

I would not bathe him any more than once a month as too much will keep him from developing his natural oils.

If you want to discuss the raw food diet and how to transition him over to that, just let me know when you are ready and we can go over that.

For now while his immune system is compromised, let's get the enzymes and probiotics to work along with some good grain free canned foods and a green powder if you can.

The fish oil will help as well. Even better is to get some sardines in water. Give him half a can a couple times a week. They are a whole food and contain a complete blend of omega 3's and 6's.

Eggs are a good protein source as well. A couple a week is good for him.

We also wrote a small intro e-book for basic dog nutrition and how to select dog foods. It's called Dog Food Decoded, you can read more about it here: http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Food-Decoded-Choose-Healthy-ebook/dp/B008LX6WGY/ref=sr. If you have a Kindle or Kindle app you can read it for about $3. It's a good primer to going on better foods.

We are also writing a book on the raw food diet that we hope to have out soon.

I do have a report we wrote on how to achieve a better coat for your dog. It covers the top 5 things you can do. We used it for a giveaway when we launched the e-book a couple years ago. It's about 12 pages and has some of the items I've discussed here plus a little more. I can't attach it to this response but if you want a copy, just let me know a basic email to send it to.

I said this would be long and sometimes we spend an hour or more with a customer when we have to go over so much.

So if I left some things out or you have more questions about any of it, please feel free to write back and I'll try to answer the best I can.

If you can do some of these things right away, we usually see results fairly quick. But it can take 30-60 days to get all the bad out of his system. We've even seen some dogs get worst before getting better as all the toxins are leaving their bodies. This is rare however and we usually see some results the first week.

Again, let me know if you have more questions on any of this and/or want to get started learning more about the raw diet.

Take care,

Roger

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Roger McLeskey

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
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.

Publications
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.

Education/Credentials
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.

Awards and Honors
None.

Past/Present Clients
Many satisfied pet owners coming to our store for nutritional help and advice.

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