Newbie - Dog Food Advice Needed

Hi There,

Our lab, Bowie, has allergies - we have not carried out blood tests for this as the vet said it is food related and the results aren’t usually correct!
He constantly has ear infections (which we try to prevent/help with natural products) and always has issues with his anal glands - recently, they seem to have started leaking. The vet expresses them a bit too often for my liking.

We had to visit the vet this week as Bowies ear infection just would not go and it was very smelly etc. The vet recommended Hills z/d food! As soon as I heard “Hills” my head was shaking. However, my husband believes every word a vet says and wants to give this food a go. Please can you advise on whether there is any nutritional value to this food because, from what I have seen, it is full of rubbish and fillers which I don’t want to be giving to my boy.

Bowie is almost 2 years old and he is currently on Symply wet mixed with Canagan dry - we try to stick to fish or lamb as I know a lot of dogs have allergies to chicken. His stools are usually fairly soft and he does often have “runny” occasions.

Many thanks in advance.

Hello and welcome to the forum. Sorry to hear that your dog has so many issues. I think you will find this thread useful. Although it is about digestive issues, lots of the same principles would apply to the issues you are having with your dog. There are lots of alternatives to a prescription diet, which can be very expensive and like you say, not the best in terms of ingredients. but it may take some work to find out what your dog is reacting to.

Grains are a common culprit but since canagan and Symply are grainfree, that seems unlikely. Some of the high protein foods can be too rich for some dogs or they may be having a bit too big of a portion. I hope you can find a solution.


Hello and welcome to the forum. From what you have said, the indications are that your dog might benefit from a change in diet - link. There is some information about feeding dogs with intolerances and allergies here.

Re the prescription diet - I can appreciate your concern. David has written about prescription diets here. I have mixed feelings about how to proceed because it is clear that your dog’s current food is not suiting him and the Hill’s might be useful in the short term. If it alleviates the symptoms, all well and good because it will be helpful for your dog and give you a base from which to work when looking for something better. I will leave you to think about that but would suggest that you don’t need to view it as a long term food.

On the aforementioned Feeding Guide page is a section about elimination diets. This could be helpful for you to find out if your dog has any particular intolerances. At the outset, you need to keep it very simple indeed so a wet food would be the best choice. No mixing with other foods and no treats or scraps.

I am wondering if using fish would be a good starting point. There are a few simple wet foods, usually with potato as the carbohydrate source. Forthglade sell one with brown rice. Naturediet wet food is simple in recipe and they have a fish version. They had some useful information sheets on their website about this kind of issue - don’t know if they’re still on the website. There are some kibble type dry foods that are fish based and have fairly simple recipes. Of the cold pressed dry foods, Gentle Fish might suit but best to contact the company first.

Please let us know what you decide to do and if you need further help.

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Hello Bowie-Jangles and welcome to the forum!

Some great advice already from Tinyplanets and Dottie.
Specifically regarding Bowie’s ear infections which frequently go hand-in-hand with an intolerance to an ingredient in a dog’s diet, you might want to consider adding a hign quality Omega 3 which will help calm down any inflammation that may be going on, and should be particularly helpful for his ears. I’ve had good results in the past from adding a wild (not farmed/domestic) salmon oil to the diet, and more recently for a dog who is known to be intolerant of salmon ??? I’ve used flax oil as the main omega source.

There are a number of products which have these oils in, for example (salmon oil) “Wild Alaskan Salmon oil” made by Grizzly Pet Products and (flax oil) “Yumega” made by Lintbells.