Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Dog Food Saga

Howie has allergies. We've been battling them since I got him. For the first five months of his life (or, at least for as long as he was eating solid food) he and his siblings were eating Diamond brand dog food. There were no problems, but I've heard and read that many allergies don't come out until after a year of age.

When I got him, he was on Nutro Ultra Puppy, before switching over to Blue Buffalo. Howie isn't a pickey eater, but I loved Blue Buffalo, and he was doing great on it for about 6 months. Then we switched over to Blue's Wilderness formula, and aside from horrible gas (probably from the 42% protein content) he seemed to do okay on it. The the itchies started. After about 20 minutes after eating, he'd be rolling around on the carpet. So, I switched over to Natural Balance and their Limited Ingredient Diet line - the only one he seemed to be able to handle was the fish & sweet potato formula.

Then, about three weeks ago, the hives showed up. I woke up one Monday morning (which ended up just being a bad Monday morning all together) and my dog was COVERED in hives down his flanks and haunches. And he was rolling all over the carpet.

And before you say, "Oh check your cleaners and detergents," I use mild cleaners, and nothing has changed. I use All Free & Clear for laundry detergent, and never use fabric softener on Howie's things. So, it wasn't that.

So, I loaded him up with Benadryl before I left for work and made a vet appointment for after work. I came home, and the hives were gone. So, maybe it was something outside? The boyfriend thought maybe it was the acorns falling from the trees. I canceled the vet appointment, since they'd probably look at me if I brought in a dog who was perfectly fine, and kept an eye on him. Kept him loaded with Benadryl for a coupel days, then weaned him off of it to see if the hives came back.

After a few days of no Benadryl, the hives did come back, but not nearly as bad, and he wasn't itchy or uncomfortable. He was just covered in bumps. Around this time, it's time to buy a new bag of dog food, so I start looking. I had a couple sample bags of Merrick's Before Grain, which I was mainly using as stuffing for his Tug-A-Jug, and decided to try him on that.

Now, I know it can take up to a full month for the old food to be completely out of the system, but within a couple days of feeding the Before Grain, the hives were gone! So, I went to buy a big bag of it. Not two days later, the paw licking started. So, it was back to the Natural Balance.

Yes, I know it's smart to wean your dog onto a new food, and I always recommend that people switch over slowly, but Howie has never had a problem switching cold turkey - no gas, still has solid poops, and no throwing up. He's always been fine, but I'll usually half-and-half for a couple days.

Anyway, after two days of being on the Natural Balance again, the paw licking stopped. And today, about 4 days back on NB, the hives came back. There were few of them, but they were there. So, it was time to go shopping again.

I decided to go all out and get Wellness CORE. Since grains and chicken seemed to be the big culprit (I thought it was beef in the past, but it might have been the chicken he was sensitive to), I went with their fish formla. It will take a few days to see if he really benefits from it, and since I opened the bag (unlike the larger bag of Before Grain I have to return) we'll give this one the full month to make sure it's working.

We'll keep you posted!