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This blog post was originally published in 2014. It has been updated with new information. Throughout this blog post, I alternate the following words – sensitivity, intolerance, and allergy.
Before I switched my dogs to a raw food diet, I suspected that Rodrigo has a chicken allergy. No matter what kibble I fed (and most seemed to have chicken as the main protein), Rodrigo had a reaction. Itchy skin, chronic ear infections, digestive issues, and more. Later, I realized that it was the kibble, not necessarily the protein, because when I started feeding lamb, turkey, and salmon kibble – Rodrigo had the same reaction.
So, when I started feeding raw, I fed chicken and beef, two proteins that land high on the Sensitivity List for dogs. Rodrigo didn't have an issue with chicken anymore. That is until I transitioned to DIY raw feeding. That was when I learned about how sourcing can impact how my dogs react to a protein.
And I'm not referring to organic, grass-fed proteins. I'm saying that Rodrigo can eat proteins from some farms, but not others. I don't know exactly what's happening but I have theories.
In this post, I want to share the proteins that I've found that Rodrigo has been able to eat. But first…
Symptoms of a Food Sensitivity in Dogs
This list is based on our experience with Rodrigo and Scout, homework, and discussions with various veterinarians.
- Constant itching, scratching and/or licking of itchy paws
- Loud gurgling stomach noises
- Loose stool and diarrhea; multiple poops a day
- Room clearing gas
- Failure of anal glands to naturally express (this can lead to infection and impaction)
- Chronic ear infections
- Dry, flaky skin and rashes/hives
- Hair loss
Our dogs only experienced a few of these symptoms, but all of them may have crept up eventually.
Diagnosing My Dog's Protein Sensitivities
I'm one of THOSE dog moms – I track everything with my dogs in spiral notebooks. So, I started making notes about Rodrigo's reaction to different proteins and shared them with our veterinarian. He diagnosed Rodrigo with protein sensitivities and gave me a quick intro.
- Because Rodrigo was allergic to beef, then beef tripe, bison, and possibly elk and venision might cause a reaction too. This didn't happen. Rodrigo can eat some grass-fed beef, beef tripe, bison, elk, and venison with zero issues.
- Because Rodrigo was allergic to chicken, then chicken eggs might pose a problem. Along with other bird proteins. This didn't happen either. Rodrigo can eat chicken eggs, quail, goose (which is more similar to red meat proteins), and duck. But he can't eat turkey or pheasant.
By the way, I used a sensitivity kit on Rodrigo and it also came back with chicken and chicken eggs.
Alternative Proteins to Beef and Chicken
The following are the proteins that I feed my dogs. This list is limited to the proteins available where I live and I'm sharing to give others ideas on what they can look for.
- Chicken Eggs (quail eggs if I can get them)
- Grass Fed Beef
- Green Beef Tripe
- Wild Goose
- Fish: sardines, mackerel, trout
I've also fed alpaca, alligator, and kangaroo once but they are very expensive where I live.
Gut Health Causes Food Sensitivities
I don't know if this is true. But I do think an unhealthy gut leads to a lot of health issues, and in Rodrigo's case, that included food sensitivities. As I'm updating this post, I was excited to see the list of proteins I can feed my dogs has gotten longer and I credit this to feeding fresh food and focusing on my dog's gut health. I did this by adding the following whole foods and supplements to their diet.
- raw goat's milk
- fermented vegetables
- fermented fish stock
- FullBucket Digestive Supplement
Remember, healthy gut – healthy dog.