'Because of Buddy' is dedicated to helping people whose dogs are suffering 
from itchy skin and paws, hot spots, fur loss, yeast issues and allergies.
 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format
Follow Buddy On:

Dog Food:  How I Carefully Chose 

the Best One for Buddy

 

I have always been selective and quality-conscious when it comes to buying dog food for my dogs. But when Buddy came into my life, I realized that I would have to take it to a whole new level. I knew that his past skin allergy tests indicated that he was allergic to dust, mold, ragweed and assorted tree and grass pollens but I had no idea if food ingredients could be playing a role in his severe skin issues. An interesting thing that I learned was that dogs who are allergic to airborne particles are more likely to be sensitive to food ingredients as well. Apparently, food intolerance is actually the third most common sensitivity condition in dogs. So I started to educate myself regarding how dog food is made, who manufactures the food and where the ingredients come from. I read that if you feed your dog the same exact food for years, he will likely become sensitive to its main ingredients (chicken, lamb, etc.) meaning that a food which used to be tolerated well could eventually cause the dog to scratch.

 

Knowing that Buddy was suffering, I wanted to quickly find out what brand/type of dog food would work best for him.  I was intimidated by the recommended dog food elimination trials. It could take months to figure out which ingredients were the culprits and frankly, I did not have the time or patience to go through that process. I also did not want poor Buddy to be a guinea pig since he had been through enough already. All of my research pointed to the fact that there are certain ingredients that sensitive dogs will react to the most and it seemed logical to just skip ahead and look for foods that did not include those ingredients.  I heard great things about homemade and raw diets but I really did not want to take that leap unless I had to because of the time and expense involved.

 

What I ultimately gleaned from my investigation (credible books, journals, internet sites) is that I should immediately switch Buddy to a grain-free (no corn, rice, oats) food with a novel protein (one that has likely not been eaten regularly before) as its main ingredient - such as salmon, venison, rabbit, duck, pork, etc.  I wanted to avoid chicken, beef and lamb which are often the main ingredients in most dog foods. Something else I needed to factor in was that Buddy had major yeast overgrowth issues most likely resulting from repeated use of antibiotics and steroids which weakened his immune system. So I needed to choose a food that was grain-free, had a novel protein AND was low or limited in carbs - meaning that white potatoes, peas, etc. should NOT be at the very top of the ingredients list (internal yeast thrives with high amounts of carbs). This also applies to dog treats and anything that I was giving Buddy to consume. It is my understanding though that (external) skin yeast is not impacted negatively by a dog's consumption of starchy carbs unlike internal yeast.  

 

There are quite a few dog foods being marketed for dogs with ‘allergies’ and while many of them sound good, the problem is that white potatoes or rice are the main ingredients instead of an animal protein or they contain some undesirable ingredients (dyes or chemical preservatives). I address ingredients further below. Also, don't assume that the prescription diet foods are exempt from the same scrutiny as store-bought foods. The same lists of ingredients to look for and avoid apply to those foods as well and you might just be surprised.  I did find a few dry dog foods that fit my criteria but I decided upon Orijen 6-Fish made by Champion Pet Foods and Buddy responded well. It’s a bit pricey but well worth it because he feels so much better and an added bonus is that I know I will be saving money on future vet bills.

 

A New, Simple Saliva Test Makes it Easier to Select the Right Dog Food

 

A couple of months after Buddy started Orijen, I was very excited to learn about a Food Sensitivity Saliva Test for dogs called NutriScan (www.NutriScan.org) that was brand new and simple to conduct (at home or through your vet). It was developed by the same well-known lab in California (Hemopet and Dr. Jean Dodds) that offers highly regarded, advanced canine thyroid testing. One of Buddy’s vets sent Buddy’s blood there to determine if his thyroid was playing a role in his health issues (it wasn’t). At the time when I ordered the saliva test kit, the primary dietary antigens being tested were corn, wheat, soy, beef, eggs, and milk. The test involves soaking a small cotton rope with saliva, sealing it in the container provided and then mailing it back to the lab.  Buddy tested positive for all but one food but the good news was that Orijen 6-Fish did not contain any of those ingredients. Just recently, the saliva test has been expanded to 22 of the most commonly ingested foods divided into two test kits. It now includes fish varieties and peanut butter, sweet potatoes and more. The cost for the kits is much less than what could be spent at the veterinary dermatologist for blood or other testing. 

 

It's a good idea to rotate between different foods to give variety and to help avoid your dog from becoming sensitive to the current food he is eating. In addition to the food saliva test results, it's also helpful to choose a new food with the help of a web site that is a seemingly unbiased resource for dog foods: www.dogfoodadvisor.com. This site breaks down the ingredients of each food and lets you know which ones are controversial or are poor quality. You will also learn if the food is meat-based, grain-based, plant-based, high or low in carbs and fiber and what extra ingredients of nutritional value are included. I have also found Whole Dog Journal to be a very valuable resource on dog foods and much more.   

 

Making Choices

 

I did it for Buddy but choosing the right dog food for your dog might seem to be an overwhelming and confusing task. Whether your dog has allergy or skin issues or not, you may wonder why you should spend more money for a highly rated food.  Pet nutritionists believe that a very high proportion of pet health issues (chronic digestive problems, urinary tract disease, sensitivities to ingredients) are directly related to poor quality pet foods.  It can be important to your dog's short and long term health (and can impact your future vet bills) to know what's in the food you are giving your dog. It's worth it to take the time to learn how to read the pet food label. A quick scan of the label will give you a wealth of information and help you make an educated guess regarding the food's quality. Going one step further, you can also check the dog food manufacturer's web site to make sure it gets its ingredients from local USDA inspected facilities or from reputable countries and if the food contains any potentially unsafe ingredients imported from China.

 

What food works for Buddy may not work for your dog but because of Buddy, I made it my business to know what to look for and what to avoid in a dog food so that I could make an informed decision.  Your dog might seem to be doing just fine eating a dog food that does not meet all of the criteria listed below but if your dog is frequently scratching, has allergies, hot spots, chronic diarrhea, recurrent ear/anal gland infections or a poor coat, you should consider trying a higher quality food.

 

 

What to look for:


Protein is the most important part of a dog's diet and should be at the top of the ingredients list. You want the food to contain more meat than grains (preferably no grains at all) and the type of the meat should be specifically named - chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, etc. whether it's whole or a named 'meal.' Whole meats contain up to 75% water and do not contain enough protein to be used as the only protein source. An animal protein 'meal' means that the meat is essentially cooked and dried and then ground to form 'meal' - which makes it much higher in protein. Fresh whole vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas) and quality fruits (apples and blueberries) are wholesome unprocessed ingredients with nutritional benefits and are a nice addition (though dogs with internal yeast overgrowth issues should be fed a food low in carbs). Grains are not essential and ideally should not be included but where grains are used, look for good quality whole grains such as rice, barley and oats and they should not appear in abundance before the fat source listed on the label. Fat sources should be named (chicken fat, olive/canola/flax oils, etc.) Look for natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and rosemary extract. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are quality additions to the food.

 

 

What to avoid:


Avoid foods containing meat or poultry by-products or by-product meal - especially those that are not named ('animal', 'poultry'). By-products are typically made of slaughterhouse waste (inedible leftovers) so they are considerably less carefully harvested, handled and stored. Excessive grains and fillers (ground whole corn, corn gluten meal, wheat gluten meal, soy bean meal, peanuts hulls, etc) at the top of the ingredients list are signs of a poor quality dog food. Avoid artificial colors (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6), flavors that don't mention a specific source, sweeteners (sugar, sorbitol, etc.) and chemical preservatives and additives - especially those believed to be carcinogenic or that are banned from use in the human food chain. In dog food, principally these are BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate. Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract, should be used instead. NOTE: Some ingredients, usually fish products, may contain artificial preservatives not disclosed on the ingredient list because if they're not added by the manufacturer, they're not required to be listed. Dog food manufacturers using ocean fish products will usually state it loud and clear if their fish does not contain any artificial preservatives.

 

 

Resources:

 www.NutriScan.org

 www.dogfoodadvisor.com

 www.wholedogjournal.com

 


To read details about all of the supplements and products that worked for Buddy, click here.

A Simple Guide to Choosing a Quality Dry Dog Food 
Choosing a high quality dog food can be an overwhelming and confusing task. Why should you spend more money for a highly rated food? Pet nutritionists believe that a very high proportion of pet health issues (chronic digestive problems, urinary tract disease, sensitivities to ingredients) are directly related to poor quality pet foods. It can be important to your dog's short and long term health (and can impact your future vet bills) to know what's in the food you are giving your dog. It's worth it to take the time to learn how to read the pet food label. A quick scan of the label will give you a wealth of information and help you made an educated guess regarding the food's quality. Going one step further, you can also check the dog food manufacturer's web site to make sure it sources its ingredients from local USDA inspected facilities or from reputable countries and if the food contains any potentially unsafe ingredients imported from China. There is no single best food for every dog but by doing your homework, you can find the best one for your dog that also fits within your budget. 
What to look for: 
Protein is the most important part of a dog's diet and should be at the top of the ingredients list in a high quality commercial dog food. You want the food to contain more meat than grains and the type of the meat must be named - chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, etc. whether it's whole or a named 'meal.' Whole meats
contain up to 75% water and do not contain enough protein to be used as the sole protein source in a dry dog food. An animal protein 'meal' means that the meat is essentially cooked and dried and then ground to form 'meal' - which makes it much higher in protein. Fresh whole vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas) and quality fruits (apples and blueberries) are wholesome unprocessed ingredients with nutritional benefits and are a nice addition (though dogs with yeast issues should be fed a food low in carbs). Grains are not essential but where grains are used, look for good quality whole grains such as rice, barley and oats and they should not appear in abundance before the fat source listed on the label. Fat sources should be named (chicken fat, olive/canola/flax oils, etc.) Look for natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and rosemary extract. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are quality additions. 
What to avoid: 
Avoid foods containing meat or poultry by-products or by-product meal - especially those that are not named ('animal', 'poultry'). By-products are made of slaughterhouse waste (inedible leftovers) so they are considerably less carefully harvested, handled and stored. Excessive grains and fillers (ground whole corn, corn gluten meal, wheat gluten meal, soy bean meal, peanuts hulls, etc) at the top of the ingredients list are signs of a poor quality dog food. Avoid artificial colors (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6), flavors that don't mention a specific source, sweeteners (sugar, sorbitol, etc) and chemical preservatives and additives - especially those believed to be carcinogenic or that are banned from use in the human food chain. In dog food, principally these are BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate. Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract, can be used instead. NOTE: Some ingredients, usually fish products, may contain artificial preservatives not disclosed on the ingredient list because if they're not added by the manufacturer, they're not required to be listed. Look for assurances by manufacturers using ocean fish products that their foods do NOT contain any artificial preservatives. 
Other Considerations - food intolerance and yeast issues 
If you suspect that your dog could be sensitive to an ingredient in its food, you may have been told to conduct a time-consuming dog food ingredient elimination trial that is tricky to comply with and takes a long time to complete. Something you can try for a potentially quicker result is to immediately go to a grain-free food that has a novel protein as its main ingredient - salmon, venison, rabbit, duck, etc. Over the years, dogs have become more sensitive to grains and chicken, beef and lamb due to overuse so choosing a grain-free food that does not contain those particular meat proteins could be a good place to start. Another option is a new saliva test* that measures antibodies to certain foods in dog saliva (see further below). If your dog also happens to have yeast issues due to repeated use of antibiotics or steroids for instance, then your best bet can be to choose a food that is grain-free, has a novel protein AND is lower in carbs - meaning that rice, potatoes, etc should not be at the top of the ingredients list (yeast thrives with high amounts of starchy carbs). Give the food at least four to six weeks to see if its working for your dog. Yes, these foods to tend to be understandably pricier but it is possible to shop around, read those labels and find an affordable, appropriate food. Also, don't assume that the foods sold in vet offices are exempt from the same scrutiny as store-bought foods. The same lists of ingredients to look for and avoid apply to those foods as well and you might just be surprised. 
Knowing what to look for and what to avoid in a commercial dog food will help you make an informed decision about which food to purchase within your budget. If your dog happens to be thriving on a food that does not meet all of the above criteria, then great. But if your dog is frequently scratching, has allergies, hot spots, chronic diarrhea, recurrent ear/anal gland infections or a poor coat, you should consider trying some higher quality foods. You can save money in the long run on vet bills and your dog will be much more comfortable. 
* Food intolerance or sensitivity is actually quite common whereas food allergy is rare. In fact, food intolerance is the third most common sensitivity condition in dogs and often can be easily remedied with a change in diet. For years, though, the difficulty lay in figuring out what foods were problematic – until now. Developed by world renowned veterinarian, Dr. Jean Dodds, NutriScan tests for the 20 most commonly ingested foods to provide you with specific results. Since it is a salivary test, you have the convenience to complete the test at home or at your veterinarian’s office. Best of all, you can have the results in approximately two weeks to help you put your dog on the right diet. Go to www.NutriScan.org for details.
Follow Buddy On:
A Simple Guide to Choosing a Quality Dry Dog Food 
Choosing a high quality dog food can be an overwhelming and confusing task. Why should you spend more money for a highly rated food? Pet nutritionists believe that a very high proportion of pet health issues (chronic digestive problems, urinary tract disease, sensitivities to ingredients) are directly related to poor quality pet foods. It can be important to your dog's short and long term health (and can impact your future vet bills) to know what's in the food you are giving your dog. It's worth it to take the time to learn how to read the pet food label. A quick scan of the label will give you a wealth of information and help you made an educated guess regarding the food's quality. Going one step further, you can also check the dog food manufacturer's web site to make sure it sources its ingredients from local USDA inspected facilities or from reputable countries and if the food contains any potentially unsafe ingredients imported from China. There is no single best food for every dog but by doing your homework, you can find the best one for your dog that also fits within your budget. 
What to look for: 

Protein is the most important part of a dog's diet and should be at the top of the ingredients list in a high quality commercial dog food. You want the food to contain more meat than grains and the type of the meat must be named - chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, etc. whether it's whole or a named 'meal.' Whole meats
contain up to 75% water and do not contain enough protein to be used as the sole protein source in a dry dog food. An animal protein 'meal' means that the meat is essentially cooked and dried and then ground to form 'meal' - which makes it much higher in protein. Fresh whole vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas) and quality fruits (apples and blueberries) are wholesome unprocessed ingredients with nutritional benefits and are a nice addition (though dogs with yeast issues should be fed a food low in carbs). Grains are not essential but where grains are used, look for good quality whole grains such as rice, barley and oats and they should not appear in abundance before the fat source listed on the label. Fat sources should be named (chicken fat, olive/canola/flax oils, etc.) Look for natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and rosemary extract. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are quality additions. 
What to avoid: 

Avoid foods containing meat or poultry by-products or by-product meal - especially those that are not named ('animal', 'poultry'). By-products are made of slaughterhouse waste (inedible leftovers) so they are considerably less carefully harvested, handled and stored. Excessive grains and fillers (ground whole corn, corn gluten meal, wheat gluten meal, soy bean meal, peanuts hulls, etc) at the top of the ingredients list are signs of a poor quality dog food. Avoid artificial colors (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6), flavors that don't mention a specific source, sweeteners (sugar, sorbitol, etc) and chemical preservatives and additives - especially those believed to be carcinogenic or that are banned from use in the human food chain. In dog food, principally these are BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate. Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract, can be used instead. NOTE: Some ingredients, usually fish products, may contain artificial preservatives not disclosed on the ingredient list because if they're not added by the manufacturer, they're not required to be listed. Look for assurances by manufacturers using ocean fish products that their foods do NOT contain any artificial preservatives. 
Other Considerations - food intolerance and yeast issues 
If you suspect that your dog could be sensitive to an ingredient in its food, you may have been told to conduct a time-consuming dog food ingredient elimination trial that is tricky to comply with and takes a long time to complete. Something you can try for a potentially quicker result is to immediately go to a grain-free food that has a novel protein as its main ingredient - salmon, venison, rabbit, duck, etc. Over the years, dogs have become more sensitive to grains and chicken, beef and lamb due to overuse so choosing a grain-free food that does not contain those particular meat proteins could be a good place to start. Another option is a new saliva test* that measures antibodies to certain foods in dog saliva (see further below). If your dog also happens to have yeast issues due to repeated use of antibiotics or steroids for instance, then your best bet can be to choose a food that is grain-free, has a novel protein AND is lower in carbs - meaning that rice, potatoes, etc should not be at the top of the ingredients list (yeast thrives with high amounts of starchy carbs). Give the food at least four to six weeks to see if its working for your dog. Yes, these foods to tend to be understandably pricier but it is possible to shop around, read those labels and find an affordable, appropriate food. Also, don't assume that the foods sold in vet offices are exempt from the same scrutiny as store-bought foods. The same lists of ingredients to look for and avoid apply to those foods as well and you might just be surprised. 
Knowing what to look for and what to avoid in a commercial dog food will help you make an informed decision about which food to purchase within your budget. If your dog happens to be thriving on a food that does not meet all of the above criteria, then great. But if your dog is frequently scratching, has allergies, hot spots, chronic diarrhea, recurrent ear/anal gland infections or a poor coat, you should consider trying some higher quality foods. You can save money in the long run on vet bills and your dog will be much more comfortable. 
* Food intolerance or sensitivity is actually quite common whereas food allergy is rare. In fact, food intolerance is the third most common sensitivity condition in dogs and often can be easily remedied with a change in diet. For years, though, the difficulty lay in figuring out what foods were problematic – until now. Developed by world renowned veterinarian, Dr. Jean Dodds, NutriScan tests for the 20 most commonly ingested foods to provide you with specific results. Since it is a salivary test, you have the convenience to complete the test at home or at your veterinarian’s office. Best of all, you can have the results in approximately two weeks to help you put your dog on the right diet. Go to www.NutriScan.org for details.
A Simple Guide to Choosing a Quality Dry Dog Food 
Choosing a high quality dog food can be an overwhelming and confusing task. Why should you spend more money for a highly rated food? Pet nutritionists believe that a very high proportion of pet health issues (chronic digestive problems, urinary tract disease, sensitivities to ingredients) are directly related to poor quality pet foods. It can be important to your dog's short and long term health (and can impact your future vet bills) to know what's in the food you are giving your dog. It's worth it to take the time to learn how to read the pet food label. A quick scan of the label will give you a wealth of information and help you made an educated guess regarding the food's quality. Going one step further, you can also check the dog food manufacturer's web site to make sure it sources its ingredients from local USDA inspected facilities or from reputable countries and if the food contains any potentially unsafe ingredients imported from China. There is no single best food for every dog but by doing your homework, you can find the best one for your dog that also fits within your budget. 
What to look for: 

Protein is the most important part of a dog's diet and should be at the top of the ingredients list in a high quality commercial dog food. You want the food to contain more meat than grains and the type of the meat must be named - chicken, beef, salmon, lamb, etc. whether it's whole or a named 'meal.' Whole meats
contain up to 75% water and do not contain enough protein to be used as the sole protein source in a dry dog food. An animal protein 'meal' means that the meat is essentially cooked and dried and then ground to form 'meal' - which makes it much higher in protein. Fresh whole vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas) and quality fruits (apples and blueberries) are wholesome unprocessed ingredients with nutritional benefits and are a nice addition (though dogs with yeast issues should be fed a food low in carbs). Grains are not essential but where grains are used, look for good quality whole grains such as rice, barley and oats and they should not appear in abundance before the fat source listed on the label. Fat sources should be named (chicken fat, olive/canola/flax oils, etc.) Look for natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and rosemary extract. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are quality additions. 
What to avoid: 

Avoid foods containing meat or poultry by-products or by-product meal - especially those that are not named ('animal', 'poultry'). By-products are made of slaughterhouse waste (inedible leftovers) so they are considerably less carefully harvested, handled and stored. Excessive grains and fillers (ground whole corn, corn gluten meal, wheat gluten meal, soy bean meal, peanuts hulls, etc) at the top of the ingredients list are signs of a poor quality dog food. Avoid artificial colors (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6), flavors that don't mention a specific source, sweeteners (sugar, sorbitol, etc) and chemical preservatives and additives - especially those believed to be carcinogenic or that are banned from use in the human food chain. In dog food, principally these are BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate. Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract, can be used instead. NOTE: Some ingredients, usually fish products, may contain artificial preservatives not disclosed on the ingredient list because if they're not added by the manufacturer, they're not required to be listed. Look for assurances by manufacturers using ocean fish products that their foods do NOT contain any artificial preservatives. 
Other Considerations - food intolerance and yeast issues 
If you suspect that your dog could be sensitive to an ingredient in its food, you may have been told to conduct a time-consuming dog food ingredient elimination trial that is tricky to comply with and takes a long time to complete. Something you can try for a potentially quicker result is to immediately go to a grain-free food that has a novel protein as its main ingredient - salmon, venison, rabbit, duck, etc. Over the years, dogs have become more sensitive to grains and chicken, beef and lamb due to overuse so choosing a grain-free food that does not contain those particular meat proteins could be a good place to start. Another option is a new saliva test* that measures antibodies to certain foods in dog saliva (see further below). If your dog also happens to have yeast issues due to repeated use of antibiotics or steroids for instance, then your best bet can be to choose a food that is grain-free, has a novel protein AND is lower in carbs - meaning that rice, potatoes, etc should not be at the top of the ingredients list (yeast thrives with high amounts of starchy carbs). Give the food at least four to six weeks to see if its working for your dog. Yes, these foods to tend to be understandably pricier but it is possible to shop around, read those labels and find an affordable, appropriate food. Also, don't assume that the foods sold in vet offices are exempt from the same scrutiny as store-bought foods. The same lists of ingredients to look for and avoid apply to those foods as well and you might just be surprised. 
Knowing what to look for and what to avoid in a commercial dog food will help you make an informed decision about which food to purchase within your budget. If your dog happens to be thriving on a food that does not meet all of the above criteria, then great. But if your dog is frequently scratching, has allergies, hot spots, chronic diarrhea, recurrent ear/anal gland infections or a poor coat, you should consider trying some higher quality foods. You can save money in the long run on vet bills and your dog will be much more comfortable. 
* Food intolerance or sensitivity is actually quite common whereas food allergy is rare. In fact, food intolerance is the third most common sensitivity condition in dogs and often can be easily remedied with a change in diet. For years, though, the difficulty lay in figuring out what foods were problematic – until now. Developed by world renowned veterinarian, Dr. Jean Dodds, NutriScan tests for the 20 most commonly ingested foods to provide you with specific results. Since it is a salivary test, you have the convenience to complete the test at home or at your veterinarian’s office. Best of all, you can have the results in approximately two weeks to help you put your dog on the right diet. Go to www.NutriScan.org for details.