Help with allergy diet

Hello, my miniature dachshund Bertie is 17 months old. He has been under the vet for over a month for ear, anal gland and skin infections. Swabs have been sent off but the antibiotics didn’t work and he had to have his anal gland flushed out and another swab sent off. He is also on apoquel. The vet has said it is allergies and has sent a blood test off for environmental causes, she said it’s not worth doing a food test but to put him immediately on an special elimination diet of dried food from them. They didn’t say which one. My concern is that he is so young and I’ve read these diets are nutritionally deficient and seem very harsh. He is currently on Lily’s dried food. He does have goats milk at night and high quality vegetable treats and yak milk chews. I don’t feel the vet has given enough information and wondered if anyone could advise any other option for Bertie? Thank you

Hello and welcome to the forum,
Sorry you are having problems with your dog’s health. There are some good links about elimination diets on this thread started by Dottie.
It can be a lot of research but you are right to do some research rather than just accept the recommended food.

Ask your vet if the blood test can incorporate foods too… my dog has 2 environmental allergies but 6 food ones. I’d never figured out dust mites storage mites were 2 of his allergies without the blood test. Any dry kibble is a big no no, regardless of the flavour.


Hello Angieedd - welcome to the forum. Your dog is very young and FWIW I think you are right to try an elimination diet but it can take some time and you will need to be strict. First of all though, have a look at the thread on dermatitis - it is here. If your dog has malassezia it will need treatment with anti fungal shampoo.

Your vet is right in saying that it could be an environmental allergy so spend some time thinking about any chemicals that you use and also to his bedding. However, even if there is an environmental component a good, fresh diet will boost his immunity and improve over all health so it’s good that you are thinking about food.

Now on to diet - your vet has suggested a hydrolysed protein food as a starting point and this is quite common. You are right in that they are not particularly nutritious. They are also highly processed. A better approach (in my view) is to conduct an elimination diet by using fresh cooked or raw food. At this stage I feel that fresh cooked would be best in view of your dog not being well at the moment.

It is perfectly possible to cook for your dog but it needs to be a properly balanced diet. Certain supplements need to be added, mainly calcium and omega oils. If you are up for this, write back and we can continue the discussion.

Edit: I agree with Lewie0205 re dry food. Dogs can be allergic to storage mites. Your dog might not be but it makes sense to exclude this if possible, especially in the absence of testing for it.

Thank you so much for your reply. I have ordered some fresh raw rabbit from a pet raw food supplier, it comes tomorrow. It’s a first for me but I think it comes with fur and bones all chopped!. Do you think I could cook it first as you recommend. He’s on that awful aquapel immune suppressant so I need to be careful. I’m not sure what to mix with it for calcium but I have some Yumega oil I could add for omega oils. I’m such an idiot about all this. Thank you for your guidance, I really appreciate it. I’m so worried about him.

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Do not cook the rabbit because it will contain bone. I only know of one company that sells cookable raw food and that is Hug Pet Food. They do not use bone in the recipe. You should not add calcium to the rabbit - as mentioned, it will already contain calcium from the rabbit’s bones.

My personal feeling is that when a dog is unwell, particularly with a compromised immune system it is better to home cook rather than feed raw. This is because the dog is not in a good place to cope with the bacteria that can be found in raw food.

If you are interested in raw then it would be advisable to choose one of the complete foods. You can find these by search using the Dog Food Directory. The well established companies will have advisory staff who will be able to help you choose suitable products. They should also have a wide range of foods so finding a novel protein, ie one that the dog has not had before should be no problem.

You have a young dog and need to get on top of this problem. Although there will be an initial expenditure, if you can afford it I think you might find it cost effective to have a consultation with a nutritionist who will be able to give you some well balanced, simple home cooked recipes.

Thank you Dottie, I’m not sure where to go now. I agree it would be wrong to cook the raw food and best to give him cooked food. We already used to give him chicken with his kibble so I’ll cut that out in case he’s allergic to it. The rabbit comes today but I could just put it in the freezer for when he’s better. Can you recommend what to start with and what to mix with it please. I’m so confused with it all. I don’t think my vets have a nutritionist and just want to put him on the prescription dried food. Would turkey be a good option?

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You can begin the elimination diet by putting him on the hydrolysed protein prescription food that your vet has mentioned. If there is a wet food version, choose that just in case your dog has issues with storage mites. These are associated with dry food. The idea is that you feed this and nothing else (including treats) until you see an improvement. You then add something else to it and monitor progress. If the dog doesn’t respond then you have found an ingredient that he can tolerate so you can then try something else. The whole process can take some time so be patient.

Commonly beef and chicken are proteins that some dogs have problems with so initially you might want to avoid those. That being said, almost anything can be troublesome. As an example, one of my dogs can cope with any protein but is intolerant of legumes and white potato.

We have some information about veterinary nutrition specialists here. They work remotely so distance would not be a problem. However, your vet might know of someone more local to you. The downside is expense but it could be cost effective in the long run because it has the potential to reduce veterinary consultations. More importantly your dog would be in better health if they can locate the problems.

Raw food is frequently cited as being very helpful in skin conditions and it is something you may want to think about once your dog is improving and no longer requires Apoquel. As mentioned, I would recommend one of the reputable companies who specialise in raw feeding and sell completes.

One other option which could simplify things considerably is to contact Different Dog. They are manufacturers of fresh cooked, high quality food. They have a range of products but a number of them are based on beef and chicken. However, there is fish, lamb and turkey options. You can speak to their vet who will give you advice. It is expensive but sometimes smaller feeding amounts can be given with high quality food.

Thank you Dottie, I am going go down the route you suggested with the vets prescription diet and then look at raw or the high quality cooked food. He goes back to the vet tomorrow and she’s going to check his anal glands and ears. They’d sent off a second swab as he wasn’t responding to the first antibiotics and found another bug so are giving different antibiotics and suggesting steroids, which I am worried about but she said it’s important to get on top of the infection. I can’t thank you enough. It’s stressed me out and I don’t know how he’ll cope with no treats (or us)! He usually has yak chews and sweet potato bones. He’s very timid and needy anyway.

I hope that you manage to get on top of this problem. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of skin problems. If you start an elimination diet, it is important to stop all other foods except for the hydrolysed protein one.

Thank you. It’s going to be a tough couple of months but hopefully worth it.

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