When we got the results of Eddy’s allergy tests, I felt a huge sense of relief before the fear set in. Relief because we finally had our answer. The ear infections had a cause, and we had found it. Fear because I had no idea how I was going to feed this dog.
The dog food aisle is a collage of bright colors and desirable claims. Pick the right food and your dog will be energetic, live longer, have a shinier coat, better joint health. Pick the wrong food, and you could make your pet sick or worse, with all the recalls these days. Now you get into the details. Kibble? Wet food? How much protein is enough? Am I horrible for feeding grains? Is it better just to feed “raw,” whatever that is?
Without taking allergies into account, feeding your dog is incredibly overwhelming. So let me just say you’re doing a great job. I mean, let’s be serious, you’re researching what to feed your pup. Clearly, you care. This is what worked for me, but won’t work for everyone, and that’s okay. I’d love to hear the tips and tricks you’ve come up with to keep your pooch happy and healthy! Either comment below or email me at Caitlyn@FinickyPooch.com
So, we get the results of the allergy tests, and Eddy is allergic to everything. Great. Here are his results. He was tested for food, as well as environmental allergens. Any item highlighted with a P (positive), or with BL (borderline), Eddy is allergic to. The items with an N (for neutral) next to them are the only things we know for sure he isn’t allergic to.
We could only find one type of kibble that he could eat. And believe it or not, he gets bored of food. After starting on our second bag of the kibble, Eddy got bored. He’d eat if he was really hungry, but he started losing weight. That was a problem because he was underweight when we rescued him. The kibble had a canned variety, and that was able to change things up a little, but he rarely finished his meals. The only thing that got him excited was when my boyfriend cooked real meat and gave Eddy a little piece. I’m a vegetarian, so there’s not a lot of meat hanging out in my fridge.
At my wit’s end, I decided to try cooking for Eddy. The Internet is a great resource. I found out that homemade food should be primarily meat protein (logical), that liver is super healthy (yuck), and that getting enough calcium is hard to do. We found a multivitamin for senior dogs that didnt have chicken for flavoring, and then the fun began! If you’re looking for recipes to make your dog’s food from scratch, check out my Cookbooks.
That brings us to where we are today. Which actually doesn’t feel that much different. It’s still a learning process. We found a second kibble he can eat, so we alternate between the two kibbles and the homemade food. I also feed him treats, and you can find my treat recipes either in my cookbook, or there are some free recipes posted on this site. Once in a while we try a new food that he wasn’t allergy tested for. That’s how we found out he can have peas but not broccoli.
Even though he can’t have most of the treats we gave him when we first adopted him, Eddy is still quite a spoiled pooch. One week, he had two vet appointments in two days (one with a specialist, and one for his regular shots). He was a very good boy and behaved nicely for all the technicians and both vets. So to get him an extra special treat, we stopped by the local Amish Market and got him a marrow bone. He about lost his mind when he got ahold of that bone. I was worried he wouldn’t be able to get too much out of it because he has a pretty serious underbite, but oh man did he get a lot of marrow! When he was done with it, he walked over to me and I swear he would have said thank you if he could. He looked so happy and had bits of marrow all over his face.
If you have a dog with a lot of allergies, you are certainly not alone. And I want to stress that there is no one correct way to feed your dog. All we can do is the best we can, and change when we learn something new. Comment below or email Caitlyn@FinickyPooch.com with questions or to share your own story.
-Caitlyn & Eddy