Back in March, Brick got an infection in his paws and ear from licking and scratching too much. The vet said it could be allergies, or it could be totally random and nothing at all, so on meds he went to clear it up, and on we went with life.
And then it came back. This time, it was only in his feet, but we caught it earlier, so that helped. The bad news was its recurrence meant the problem wasn’t an isolated one: the vet is almost certain it’s a skin reaction to some sort of allergy Brick has developed. Boo.
I actually had no idea that dogs could develop allergies over time. I thought they’d either have them since birth or not. So I was completely baffled why my puppy, who has been on the same food, in the same apartment with the same environment, for years, suddenly had an allergy. We didn’t switch his diet, we didn’t replace the carpet or his bed, we didn’t move, we’re in the same climate, we didn’t start using new cleaning items in areas he was in contact with — basically, everything was the same. This means that over time, something that never irritated him before, suddenly now does.
It could be because since he’s getting older, his body is more susceptible, or simply, time changed things for no reason at all. (I am not a vet, nor do I know much at all about animal health – this is just how I’ve interpreted what my vet explained to me, with some Googling to help.)
Turns out, this is a pretty common thing! Some of the most common allergies that pets can develop are to:
Tree, grass and weed pollens
Dust and house dust mites
Food ingredients (e.g. beef, chicken, pork, corn, wheat or soy)
Fleas and flea-control products
Rubber and plastic materials
*according to the ASPCA
After clearing this infection up again, my vet suggested we start just by switching his food to a new diet in the hopes it’s just a food allergy that can be solved with new food. He suggested the Dick van Patten Natural Balance, Limited Ingredient Diet, dry food, in any protein that wasn’t chicken. Since he used to eat a chicken & rice formula food previously, this way we could rule out grains and switch protein sources too, for the best results. I was pleased to discover this brand is pretty solid – it also has no byproducts, fillers, or artificial ingredients. Just the best stuff possible free of the most common irritants. I picked out the potato and duck formula at Petco and hoped that Brick would like it. Over about a week, we mixed his old food into some of the new to transition him onto the new food. Once he was totally switched, and seemed to be liking the new food, it was time to get more.
I was told that for this to be a true food test, we needed to stick with the new food for about 12 weeks. I knew it would make more sense then to get the jumbo bag, and I was so happy to see that my new favorite online pet shop, Chewy.com, carried this brand for cheaper than Petco! I stocked up.
Now, we’re close to the end of the food trial. So far, Brick’s skin seems pretty good. In fact, it was only today that I first noticed it was just a little bit pink again, so we’ll have to monitor that. His constant licking and scratching is way less though, so I think this is a good thing. The jury is still out if the food was the problem or not, but I’m hopeful.
If it turns out that food was not the problem, that means it’s probably an environmental thing — he may have developed an allergy to something in the air (similar to my own seasonal hayfever) or it’s something we have in the house that we’re unaware is causing an issue (here’s hoping it’s not the cats!). If his skin becomes irritated again, even on the new food, we’ll have to bring him back to the vet again and either a) try medicine, probably a basic antihistamine to start with, to see if that solves it, or b) get an allergy test done (that’s more costly and hassle than I would prefer to do if we don’t need to) to pinpoint where the issue is, and even then he will probably end up on medicine unless we can figure out if it’s something we can remove from the house. I’m really hoping we don’t get to this point, but time will tell.
In the meantime, even if it turns out to be something else, I’m going to keep him on the new food. I really like the concept of this new formula with the fewest ingredients, for basic natural reasons. I’m so glad that Chewy makes this brand available for less, and I can save even more by signing up for the auto ship program. Winning.
I received one free bag of food from Chewy.com for writing this post on pet allergies…but I would have written this even without the free food because Chewy rocks, and so does this new food. All opinions are my own.