May issue

May issue
May issue

Friday, 31 May 2013

Common culprit

I have a two-year-old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier who scratches a lot and her skin is a bit flaky. She just looks so uncomfortable, poor thing. My vet has confirmed she doesn’t have mange and has suggested it might be an allergy to an ingredient in her food, so I have changed brands but this hasn’t had much affect.

A friend at training suggested I try an elimination diet to see what the cause might be. Could you tell me if you think this will help, and if so, what are the common culprits as I think I should begin with one of those?

Ms Sanders, by email


  1. You could try eliminating wheat, beef, and colours. Or put your dog on a very basic diet of chicken and rice, then add certain foods to see what happens to your dog's skin. Or personally I'd try a supplement with omega 3 oils to help your dog's skin and coat. Yumega is a good one to try from lintbells or just add some cod liver oil or oily fish to your dogs diet. Fish4dogs have an excellent range which is a great way to feed omega to your dog.

  2. Christine Bailey11 June 2013 at 07:14

    With an elimination diet you usually start with one ingredient, often something the dog has not had before, and feed nothing else for a week, then add in a second ingredient and see if there is any reaction. It is a laborious process as you must not give anything else in the form of treats, for example. Your vet will certainly stock a prescription diet for this purpose, sometimes it is a particular fish and tapioca, again usually foods not given previously. This might be your best first step; if it is a food intolerance, nothing else but eliminating the culprit is likely to help.

  3. It is worth a try. Key ingredients that can cause allergies are generally from two sources either carbohydrates such as wheat, maize, soya or proteins; likely sources being beef, chicken, fish and eggs.
    Sometimes dogs can be allergic to more than one ingredient which can make finding the root cause a little more difficult.
    A possible way to do this is via the exclusion diet. Change to a diet that does not contain any of the above ingredients (single source protein diets such as rabbit, duck, lamb with rice are a good place to start) and allow the dog to adjust to this for a couple of weeks; see if the symptoms clear up. Remember to change gradually over a period of at least 5 days to avoid digestive upset. Once she is settled on the new diet gradually re-introduce the suspect ingredients one at a time. If she is allergic to one of them the allergic reaction will be triggered.
    There are some diets on the market made with hydrolysed proteins which could possibly help. These proteins are broken down into very small particles which prevent the allergic reaction occurring.
    Hope this helps, your vet will be able to advise on how to go about this and what foods to try.