This summer both of my dogs, Dexter and Max, experienced a prolonged sessions of scratching at their coats, and rubbing on furniture. It reached the point where they would spend a significant portion of each hour scratching.
While it was getting increasingly annoying listening to the jingling tags on their collars, it was obviously the symptom of a perpetual problem.
Reading articles such as this – Itchy Dogs – Is Food The Problem – from Texas A&M University, and Itch-And-Scratch-And-Bite-And-Lick on PetMD helped me eliminate some possibilities and give me something to try.
Since most of the environmental factors could be eliminated, I decided to try changing foods. The dogs were eating a national brand of food that was moderately priced. The brand has commercials on TV and the labeling of the bags said it was a “Complete” recipe based on their size. I was satisfied with the brand and the dogs were doing very well on their growth and energy levels, but I wanted to do an experiment to see if changing them to a grain-free brand would relieve the itching and scratching.
Wegmans is where I buy groceries, and they have a store brand of pet food called Wegmans Nature that is advertised as “Grain-Free” and free from several other seemingly undesirable additives. My thought was by eliminating the grain from the diet, I might remove an ingredient the dogs might be allergic to that would stop the itching.
The food comes in three varieties, Chicken and Brown Rice, Lamb and Brown Rice, and Turkey and Pea. Not knowing which my dogs prefer, I selected Lamb and Brown Rice.
After following the directions on how to transition the dogs to a new food, there was a noticeable difference in the amount of scratching, and an increase in the vibrancy of their coats.
One of the main points of the food was the Omega and Omega-3 blend. I feel as though this supplement in the food is what caused the decrease in irritation and the improvement to their coat. I can’t fully eliminate a grain allergy, since the test mentioned in the A&M study above were not conducted on my dogs and grain was one of the least causes of allergic reactions in dogs. I feel more comfortable feeding them food that has a primary ingredient of meat and knowing that they are getting more Omega oils which appears to have a positive impact.
While the cause of their scratching may not have been as the result of an allergy, their scratching has almost completely stopped, and doesn’t appear to be related to an internal problem. Their coats now look shinier and feel softer. Max, who is 14 years old and is starting to experience ‘old dog’ problems, appears to have limbered up and now doesn’t seem to be as limited in the range of motion of his hind legs.
I attribute most of the symptoms disappearing to the increased oils that come with a higher percentage of meat-based protein. Rather than having most of the food comprised of grains and fillers, the dominant ingredient is turkey, chicken, and lamb. There is a noticeable difference even in the visual aspects of the food because they seem brighter and have deeper colors, rather than the flat and artificial coloring of the previous food.
This post to the Pet section on WebMD – What is Grain Free Pet Food, Really? – helped clarify what grain-free means and what benefits come with a grain-free diet.
My post wasn’t sponsored by Wegmans (or anybody else), and I don’t benefit from sales of their dog food, but I wanted to share the improvement I saw the benefits of changing to a grain-free diet.
Photo Credit: “Dog Scratching” by anankkml on freedigitalphotos.net