Itchy skin/query due to high protein in diet

Hi :slight_smile:

I’m new to the forum but use the site regularly. I am owned by two adorable Keeshonden…and I’m now wondering how many people will be sitting reading this saying, eh what? 8) It’s the reaction we always get. They are also known as Dutch Barge dogs or Kees for short. My first enlightening experience in regard to dog food was with our first GSD who had skin problems caused by a off the shelf supermarket dog food, eventually we got him sorted and back to living a full healthy happy life. A couple of years after he went over the rainbow bridge, we started our journey with our two Kees, brother and sister, they will be 2 later this month, unfortunately my baby girl is having itchy skin issue’s so bad she is literally pulling her undercoat out in chunks, biting to the point where she is making herself bleed. She was previously fed on premium priced kibble which wasn’t so premium in quality, but it was what the breeder had recommended, having had experience with eliminating allergens previously and doing tons of research I switched her kibble and proceeded to eliminate allergens, now we’re working on the basis at present that her problem may stem from too much protein rather than being allergen specific. So I am looking for healthy snack/treat idea’s which are protein free, she is having a small amount of sweet potato with her morning meal, she is used to having a treat at lunch time (usually a raw carrot) her kibble at 4pm and then a treat while we eat our evening meal, this used to be dried tripe, duck fillet, chicken etc but obviously trying to reduce her protein intake means these have to go…and this is where I am stuck for ideas, Training/ring treats are usually dehydrated apple,banana, strawberries which they both love. She’d happily munch a couple of carrots a day but would this cause another set of problems long term? Should I be worrying about vitamin toxicity? How much of a good thing is too much? Any idea’s, advice, guidance would be appreciated TIA x

Hello and welcome to the forum,
Sorry to hear that your dog is so uncomfortable. I haven’t heard the theory about too much protein possibly being responsible for itching. Interesting.
I am certainly no expert so haven’t got much of an idea about vitamin toxicity. However, I can’t help thinking that feeding too much of any one thing would eventually lead to an imbalance of nutrients.
You are already feeding all the lower protein treats I can think of :-\ I will have to have a think and get back to you.
Hopefully somebody else may be able to help.


Welcome to the forums :slight_smile:

I am not informed enough to be able to advise on vitamin toxicity, effects from same &/or protein levels giving skin problems - though I am aware that some specific protein sources might not agree with some individual dogs.

Your post has a fair amount of info re your dogs past & present which is great to see.

It might be useful if you can provided some more info re current problems…

What exact food brand and variation of same was your dog on when you first noticed the skin problems ?

How long was your dog on the food fed when you noticed the skin issues ?

If your dog was absent of skin issues when you switched to this food then how long before you saw issues ?

Did you make any other changes at or shortly before you noticed issues ?

How do you know if skin issue is down to primary food or one of the other items mentioned as treats or extras ?

How do you know what specific protein sources cause issues for your dog ?

What protein sources cause issues and what are the specific issues ?

Can you rule out all other non diet issues (clinical conditions, infestation, coatb thickness, heat, environment, dog initiated agitation, meds reaction, stress, anxiety, weight etc) ?

I am NOT infering or suggesting any of the above are factors but whole picture arguably needs consideration.

If food sources are sole issue ( & you indicate several dietary variables), I see it two ways to tackle this…

Option 1 : If safe to do so, go back to what was fed well before any issues. If dog skin issue goes away then and only then consider stepped changes whilst carefully monitoring dogs skin…go back a step at 1st sign of any issues.

Option 2 : Identify a different good quality food with a likely non issue protein source…then feed that solely (no different treats etc). This gives a blank canvas. If no issues keep dog on that.

Whchever option chosen, only introduce other food sources one at a time & a!lowing some weeks in between each change so as to monitor health after each change/addition.

If it were my dog it would be option 2 all the way - This approach in my view the quickest way to try to help your dog.

Some have found skin issues pretty much sorted by simple steps such as adding a supplement, coconut oil or maybe adding a couple of sardines every so often.

You may wish to get dog clipped if desireable to see what is going on under there. If not doing so I would consider susing a really good organic type non-irritant shampoo suitable for your dogs skin condition.

Maybe also look into natural remedies - I don’t know enough to begin to properly & safely advise you but we had some success re dry skin ear tips on a dog using some carefully diluted tea tree oil. (Never use this neat) .

I have not recommended a particular food. Feel free to seek viees on any shortlist or particular foods.

I am not a pet nutritionalist…so please treat my comments accordingly.

HTH & Good Luck


Thank you for your reply Tinyplanets. As you, I had not considered/heard of the possibility of too much protein causing Ella’s skin irritation, in fact as dogs are carnivore’s and therefore built to digest animal protein I actually originally took it with a pinch of salt despite being told by an experienced Kees breeder (not my own I may add). However that said we have done so many elimination periods with her, another 8 weeks specifically working on reducing her total protein intake is worth trying. I do have to add, we are currently on week 3 and she is improving, her wounds have healed and her undercoat is growing back, although we have been at week 5 before, thinking we’d nailed the problem only to get back to square one. Please, if you do think of anything else low protein which I can add to her diet for treats then let me know Thanks again :slight_smile:

Hi Coaster and thank you for your in depth reply, I didn’t want to bombard everyone with the whole long story on the introduction page, unfortunately I ended up having to rush out to hospital with my mam so things have been a bit manic. I can’t promise to be concise or answer all your questions tonight, my brain is on overload but I will work over your helpful reply and get back to you. First things first though, I am still not 100% convinced my girl is suffering from food allergies but we have worked through tons of possibilities, Ella has had a tendency to bite herself since we bought her and her brother home, it was originally the fur on her paws, we fed her according to the breeders diet sheet, which was Royal Canine medium junior plus a small amount of chicken breast, their was also goats milk and a few other additional items which she could be given, however she had very loose stools, so we took her back to just basic RC almost immediately, without any extra’s and then gently reintroduced chicken breast She did continue to itch but not to the extent she has since. I changed her over to Markus Muhle black angus at around the 12 month mark and her general condition improved, no excessive scratching or biting until the last few days of summer last year, cut a long story short she started trying bite a certain spot specifically on her back, when I checked her she had a small tiny lump with a hole in the center, it looked just like a midge bite would on us and it was obviously driving her crazy, she refused to go out in the back garden for the toilet but she would go out front or on her walks she was literally scared to go over the back door step, when she starts on her biting sessions now, it always starts with the same place on her back…hence why I have thought previously this problem maybe behavioral/habit or a combination of things. Only recently have we introduced sweet potato, carrots, cucumber, apple and any other fruit/veg so we know we are safe with these, we have previously ceased all her manufactured treats at one point or another. As I mentioned above we had eliminated chicken and eggs for 7 weeks and thought we had found the problem only for her to go back to square one, elimination is a long process and we still have some way to go. Her brother and her are inseparable and is he absolutely fine other than the usual scratching when he is blowing his coat, I am one of those who doesn’t believe in over medicating my dogs however they have both been getting regular flea treatment for the last 10 months, dog bedding is not a issue, neither of them will use a bed except to play with, downstairs floors are all laminate/tile so no cleaning chemicals and she is barred from upstairs at present because that is where she runs if she wants to bite out of my line of sight, excess heat is a possibility but she will not wear a cool coat or even lie on a cool mat, Ella has a tight double curl tail and in general you can feel the increase in heat under her tail. We have tried flowers of sulphur, organic apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, sardines (only ceased now while she is on reduced protein) They are both groomed at the very least weekly, their is no build up, shampoo was specifically recommended by a groomer friend for itchy dogs, wildwash for itchy dogs, although her last bath was in Neem oil and the shampoo (not for the flea aspect but simply because its fab for healing her skin and softening any scabs) Shaving/clipping Kees is a definite No No unless we have no other option, for a Kees, Ella’s coat is one of the easiest I have come across and we have no problems checking her skin even if she is wearing her full coat. Her issues are not medication related, because we have had her off everything and their is no difference, she is on anti histamines at the moment. I have noticed habitual biting at certain times for instance whilst I am preparing their meals or after she has been playing with Zak and I am using distracting tactics or i can simply tell her to stop and she will, if we have to leave her at all, she gets to model the lampshade …and I get the guilt trip. Kees are companion dogs, also known as velcro dogs and she originally used to scratch holes in the kitchen walls if I left her, we don’t have that problem now but she has done the worst damage to her self more recently when we left her for an hour or two one evening, we have also tried the adaptil diffuser. She does also wake up from a deep sleep to bite/scratch hence I am not convinced it is entirely behavioral. Hence why we are eliminating possibilities in her diet, excess protein did seem unlikely but I couldn’t 100% discard it especially after her latest bad period, I looked over everything she’d had, including a lot of cheese from another dog owner during a show, plus another owner also gave her a large handful of kibble (which when I checked her recommendation was higher in protein than MM which we feed her on now. Oh which reminds me, RC gave her terrible gas and you could often hear her tummy, reminded me of the problems we had with our GSD when he had his food allergies. MM black angus doesn’t have that effect on her and contains no maize which is what I wanted to eliminate first and she has had periods of time where she hasn’t been uncomfortable on MM, my plan at present is to continue with MM and her low protein treats, now during our show season it is obviously more difficult to control what she gets, as well meaning owners fall for those big brown eyes, oh and she has been encouraged to rob a couple of older ladies of their pocket full of treats at ringcraft…not by me i may add. I have never fed her a lamb based diet so that is my starting point to research for a blank canvas, I remember Wainwrights do a hypoallergenic Lamb variety so that maybe a place to start for the blank canvass once we have completed the elimination process. Thank you so much for your reply Coaster it has helped seeing it all written down, especially in my present mind set when my thought process is not doing so well :slight_smile:


I have edited the above post this morning Coaster ::slight_smile: thought a few hours sleep may have helped collect my thoughts ;D

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I had a quick look at your reply. This morning I have seen your edit, (I was also typing when tired last night & edited my post).

You move in show circles & may already have been offered a multitude of advice. Your terminology used & efforts thus indicate lots of thought being given. On the flip side it can be hard to see the wood for the trees.

I genuinely think that the way forward has to be calm & relative simplicity !

To your credit you seem to be strict on imposing monitoring periods after each change but I just sense that all your efforts perhaps seem just a little manic (ironically you make similar references when you critique your posting style…Me ? I can ramble on - nobody is perfect :wink: )

Thanks for mentioning what you have been feeding. I wont comment on the brand your dog was on initially but would comment that cold pressed would seem to be a step in the right direction. If I were you I might be later comparing ingredients of various cold pressed foods. The MM Angus seems to have a lot going for it but do bear in mind it still has grains, (should that be an issue). Another one to look at might be the Lupo Sensitiv 20/8. Sure there are foods with higher review scores, but (assuming protein source acceptable) maybe look beyond that and take note of the lack of grains ! All of my food related input today is focusing on cold pressed as you seem happy with this, however, other options are out there…I will stop short of pushing you towards my current choice…feeding decent raw complete. (I am known to change my views & feeding so don’t take my current choice as being indicative of an ideal permanent solution).

Feeding aside, your answers indicate other factors. You indicate biting of fur to paws soon after dog came home. This possibly indicates the dog has had a frustrated nervous or anxious disposition. The fear of going out the back door (which I accept may have been valid due to a bite) , is another possible indicator of such issues as is the secretive bitining…I dont know the breed temperament. so. (whilst I have an interest in behaviour), I am no expert by any standards.

Re mention of a hole on the dogs back…this seems to be indicative of a bite or reaction. I am not a vet and havent seen the dog but I woukd be wanting to be wholly sure that the area concerned does not need treatment. No idea if it was flea, tick or some other bite. I would be asking myself…

Is it still sore ?

Why is it still sore ?

Does it need treatment ?

Are blood tests required ?

Is biting & saliva making things worse & giving risk of infection ?

Would an elizabethan collar or other physical fitted item help in short term ?

I know you indicate you show and that coat does not prevent inspection but in short term clipping may help dog be a bit cooler, allow any sore areas to get more air & faciliate better and closer monitoring until fully sorted.

For physical ailments you can of course use a traditional vet, however, you might choose to use services of a homeopathic vet. I mention this only in event you want to lean towards more natural treatments. A homeopathic vet might also offer advise re diet, supplements & natural remedies…including those that may benefit a slightly stressed or compulsive behaviour dog. If you do this then maybe discuss bach flower remedy (worth reading up on this perhaps).

Once again, I am not qualified…You have to make own choices & do own research. in any doubt consider seeking suitable professional advice.

Keep us posted.

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It does sound like a bite and reaction to it which may have started the problems.

We tend to have issues with red and sore paws at this time of year. The initial irritation can then start a chain of licking which makes things worse. So far we have managed to avoid it simply by washing paws after each walk and ensuring they are dry. I also apply a balm occasionally. i am keeping an eye out though.

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Thanks Coaster, Your right everyone has advice to give, the hard part is mentally sorting it through, even a certain MD/owner of a small dog food company likes to give his sales pitch and as you have said sorting the wood from the tree’s can be hard.
In all honesty your right in your reference to a little manic, but we can only juggle so much at one time, sometimes you just need to step back OR in this case see it written down which is why you helped. I have to say, no matter how many dogs I have loved/cared for over the years, the bond with Ella is something above and behond and that doesn’t help me with a logical approach.

Least said about RC imo the better, I will certainly have a look at Lupo Sensitiv 20/8, raw food would not be my ideal choice, we had a Kees house guest for a couple of weeks who was fed raw so I’m not saying that lightly but I’d rather not if their are other options.

Both Zak n Ella have indicators of a nervous/anxious disposition, Zak’s are subtle but they are there.
Ella’s bite mark has gone completely, i am convinced it was a insect bite of some sort and not a flea or tick in fact at present her skin is fantastic, her undercoat is growing back and she only gets to wear the Elizabethan collar/lampshade when I have to leave her, just in case she has the urge to bite. Yesterday she showed a few times that she had the urge to bite but she didn’t actually do it.
Again thanks for all your input, my brain feels a wee bit tidier now :o and I will keep you up to date :slight_smile:

Tinyplanets thank you, I agree I think the bite/reaction definitely triggered a new cycle.


No problem I am glad my comments not taken the wrong way.

We have been through the wars a bit with the Lab a bit health wise & he is also truly adored. I am only too aware that It can arguably become a little counter productive to us & our dogs sometimes if we over fuss. I have to step back and take a chill pill sometimes…Easier sometimes for me to give advice than self reflect. I guess this thread has also helped me to maintain perspective.

I note comments re Raw. Feeding it can be a gruesome process for some. We eat little meat ourselves these days (thanks to the daughters). The finely minced completes are no more unpleasant than handling packs of lean finely cut mince from the supermarket…that has been a massive benefit for feeders here. There is an air dried product called ziwi-peak which has benefits of raw without any gore. Not cheap though but maybe worth considering should you decide to look at other food types further ahead.

Must dash now - work is calling soon.

Have a good weekend.

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No Coaster I certainly did not take your comments the wrong way and as I said, I understand your reference and am totally aware I’ve been trying to juggle too much for too long and it is certainly taking it’s toll, hence I’m in a need of a bottle of those chill pills ;D Being able to just type everything down and receive input from you and Tinyplannets has helped me regain perspective, especially knowing their is no ulterior motive here.

You have actually also given me extra food for thought, I don’t think I over fuss either of them but dogs do pick up on our emotions, this is especially true with the Kees breed and Ella reads me like a book, something I should probably be more aware of and watch.

If raw food does become something I need to consider then I will look at your suggestion as for me now, I have to use gloves for handling our own meat and believe me when I say the smell of raw meat/chicken/fish is not something I do well with, hard to believe many years ago I fed my dogs raw green tripe and rice ::slight_smile:

Thanks again :slight_smile:
Hope you had a good shift at work and can enjoy the weekend


Title of this thread changed and moved to the health section to more accurately represent the subject.

Hello and welcome to AADF forum. I cannot add much to the advice already given. Itchy skin is notoriously hard to deal with and quite often it is a case of trying one different approach at a time to see what works. We often are led to believe that it is food related but sometimes it is not and is actually due to problems that are harder to deal with such as allergy and may be genetic.
Don’t know if it is of any help to you but I too have a dog with skin problems (eczema). I have managed to get it under control with Yumega Plus and cold pressed food. I also bath her but only if necessary (probably about every six weeks on average), using Sebocalm as it is soapless. I use Seleen but reserve that for if she gets a really sore patch. Paws are wiped with Tesco pet wipes each time they come in from a walk to prevent licking. Not everyone picks up poo around here so I am hoping it helps to prevent infection too.

I have heard (anecdotally) that raw food is good for dogs with itchy skin so it may be worth trying if you can cope with it. As you are unhappy handling raw meat it would be worth trying a complete raw product and to discuss your issues with the company avisors first. Using these entails no handling of meat and it is literally as simple as spooning out canned food.

Don’t know if it would help, but it might be worth seeing a good groomer to see if there are any hints and tips to manage the coat. Sometimes small matts can irritate the dog - they then scratch/pull to release them and in doing so, infect the skin. Bacterial infection of the skin sets up more itching and needs to be treated with antibiotics and possibly steroids.

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Thank you Dottie.

It is very true, eliminating the cause of Ella’s itchy skin is proving difficult, Think with my previous GSD I hit lucky as we found his problem on the first attempt, changed his food and within days we could see the improvement.

Ella’s problems I think maybe a combination of issue’s, regardless though she is constantly improving at present, however if this proves to be due to a total reduction in her overall protein/ removing a specific protein, environmental or behavioral remains to be seen. At the moment I am happy she is not so uncomfortable, her skin is back to perfect and her fur is growing back so I’m counting my blessing.
Thank you for your suggestions I will certainly have a look at Yumega plus, Sebocalm and the Seleen for future reference. I have been using the Wildwash shampoo on both of our Kees, although I recently tried Neem oil on Ella’s sores, left it for 24 hours then gave her a bath with a teaspoon dissolved in the water, have to say although it has to have the worst smell ever it did the trick.

I spent a period of time yesterday, researching a little more in to raw food, which for me is a large step, maybe I’m starting to persuade myself :smiley:

Finding professional groomers with experience of grooming/ managing a Kees coat especially here in the UK is no easy task. However I am really lucky that we have a friend who shows her own Kees and is a professional groomer so between her and my breeder I’d be kicked in to touch if I let my two go even in the slightest lol Luckily, Ella loves being groomed and quite often pushes her brother off the grooming table, telling me she wants done again…might be more about the treats than the grooming itself admittedly ha ha.

Again thank you for your suggestions Dottie, I will definitely have a look at the products you mentioned :slight_smile:

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Thank you for the reply. I can see that you have qualms about raw feeding so maybe consider a quality wet food - there are some excellent ones, many of which have nice simple recipes which are helpful for dogs like yours. Home cooking is another consideration. It takes some time and perseverance as it is necessary to study how to get it well balanced but there is a wealth of information on the Internet about it and many home feeders simplify matters by cooking up a batch and freezing portions. I am sure that raw feeding is great for dogs but it seems that there is a tendency these days to see it as a kind of magic bullet that cures all ills. There are good alternatives which may suit dog and owner better.

Hi Dottie,

In truth, my problems with potentially raw feeding are probably unavoidable and in all honesty I don’t want to start down a route which I may not be able to sustain.

I certainly will look into home cooking for them both but as you say I’d have to research this as I would need to be confident I’m feeding them a balanced diet, one of my original reasons for posting here was to try and expand options for Ella’s treats/extra’s as at the moment she’s munching through carrots, cucumber sweet potato and fruit while we have her on reduced protein, trying to ensure the only protein she is getting is in her main meals, luckily they both love their fruit and veg but I am worried they can have too much of a good thing and obviously if I was to home cook for them, this again would come into play. Its definitely something I would consider if I could get enough nutritional information to be confident in what I was providing for them.
I’d thought about making their biscuit type treats and I use a dehydrator to make their training/show ring treats but had not considered home cooking for their meals and it is well worth thinking about Thanks for the suggestion Dottie :slight_smile:

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+1 to homecooking. At least you know what ingredients you put on her food.

It just looks more time consuming than giving him raw diet.