This month, Dr. Al answers reader questions about shedding, dental health and food allergies.
Q: My 5 year old Golden Retriever has been on Holistic Select Lamb Meal Recipe for about 1 year now. She has for the past 2 months had very itchy paws and ears. Our vet says she is allergic to her food. I want to try another Holistic Select product. Which one do you recommend? (Our vet suggests a single protein which is why I have her on this product). Her daughter, 2 years old is doing fine on this product.
A: Sorry to hear that your Golden is having skin issues. Many times the symptoms of allergies are expressed in the skin as you described. Keep in mind that this could be an environmental allergy and not related to food. If that is the case, work with your vet to control the symptoms. Most environmental allergies are to seasonal irritants and will pass.
We are seeing more food allergies to lamb. Many vets feel that dogs have been exposed to lamb in pet foods for so long it has allowed allergies to develop to this protein source. Thankfully there are three other unique single protein recipes in the Holistic Select® line of dog foods, Holistic Select Duck Meal and Anchovy, Sardine and Salmon Meal dry dog food recipes, as well as the NEW Adult & Puppy Health Salmon and Anchovy & Sardine Meal dog food recipe which is so new it isn’t in most stores yet, but should be available withing the next few weeks. I have had good luck with the fish recipe and Golden Retrievers in the past. Keep in mind that any time you change diet and suspect an allergy you should transition slowly to the new recipe and give it at least two months (provided there is no worsening of the condition initially) as it can take that long for the allergens to get out of the system. In the meanwhile, do not give any treats with other protein sources or table food, or it will not be clear what is causing the allergy.
There is no definite way to tell for sure if it is a food allergy or an environmental allergy other than treating for both for now. Certainly work closely with your veterinarian and do all you can to relieve the symptoms and, if you choose, change the diet. If things improve, you may try to go back to the lamb recipe in a few months. If the symptoms reoccur you will know it was in fact a food allergy. If they do not reoccur be aware that the symptoms may come back this time next year.
Q: My sister seems to think that dry dog food is the best for her dog instead of wet canned food. She said dry is better because it helps clean their teeth, is this so?
A: That’s a great question. Many pet parents like to top the dry food with canned food or even meat supplements that are as soft as canned foods. It can provide additional nutrition, if weight is an issue.
I think the best way to answer your question is to first put the question in a human perspective. We humans brush our teeth daily and even twice daily, yet we still need to have our teeth cleaned annually or even more frequently.
The point is, that no matter whether we feed all dry for or we feed some softer food, we are still going to have to have our pet’s teeth cleaned at some point. Feeding just dry food may slow the process but not by much.