Like people, dogs have immune systems which are reactive to different substances.
A lot of veterinarians and scientists believe in genetics and the theory that dogs are simply allergic to what their genes dictate. However, there has been a growing amount of allergy prevalence in dogs – as if an epidemic.
With dogs’ growing allergy problems, we should stop blaming whole foods as the cause, and look at how their immune systems are really being disrupted.
I have yet to discover a dog food brand without some sort of additive or oil product. Even expensive foods which are not processed into cans or dry food, usually frozen or tightly sealed, have added vitamins and unsaturated oils that can be disruptive for a dog.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients of a cheaper, but highly marketed and used, brand and also ingredients from a more expensive, “more natural” food brand.
Ingredients of Purina Dog Chow:
whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of vitamin E), corn gluten meal, meat and bone meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, barley, whole grain wheat, animal digest, calcium carbonate, salt, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, l-lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, added color (red 40, yellow 5, blue 2, yellow 6), dl-methionine, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, niacin, vitamin a supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite
Ingredients of Blue Buffalo Basics (“Limited ingredient formula”):
Deboned turkey, Peas, Whole potatoes, Whole ground brown rice, Turkey meal, Flaxseed, Canola Oil (naturally preserved with Mixed tocopherols, a natural source of vitamin E), Tomato pomace (natural source of lycopene), natural turkey flavor, oatmeal, whole carrots, blueberries, cranberries, barley grass, dried parsley, alfalfa meal, dried kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Turmeric, Oil of Rosemary, Dried Chicory Root, Beta Carotene, Calcium Carbonate , Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Ascorbate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Salt, Caramel, Potassium Chloride, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecium
When we take a close look, most of the extra writing is vitamin supplementation – nonetheless, the two are similar, with an extremely varied price tag. When reading ingredients, take note that the items are listed in the amounts they are added – the first item being the largest bulk, with corn being first on Purina, and Turkey being first on Blue Buffalo.
It is important to also understand that dog food companies may not be required to list certain ingredients, and so there could be problematic ingredients which you are unaware of.
What to look out for
Instead of going into extreme detail about the controversy of each specific ingredient, the following general categories of ingredients should be avoided or taken with caution:
Unsaturated oils and products (canola, flaxseed, fish etc.)
Thickening agents (carrageenan, kelp)
Trying to avoid these is rather difficult, even in the healthiest claimed food brands.
Immune System Impact
There has been research on the negative impact which specific environmental factors have on the immune system – such as estrogen. My dog could be an example of this, as she is not fixed, and started to obtain allergies with older age.
Estrogen naturally increases in both dogs and people in aging. Estrogen can damage the thymus gland, which regulates the immune system.
Researcher Dr. Ray Peat, Ph.D. notes in his article, “Immunodeficiency, dioxins, stress, and the hormones,” factors in general which contribute to destruction of the thymus gland, and poor immunity, “I reviewed the many things in our environment that are known to suppress immunity, and which have become increasingly prevalent in our environment–unsaturated vegetable oils, ferrous iron and carrageenan in our foods, lead in air, food, and water, exposure to medical, military, and industrial ionizing radiation, vaccinations, pesticides, chlorinated hydrocarbons, nitric oxide (smog and medications) and oral contraceptives and environmental estrogens, in particular.”
When I re-examined my dogs food, I realized what impact it probably had in her sudden and prolonged allergic reactions to fleas, ear infections, and skin rashes. Surprisingly enough, all of these “allergies” cleared when I switched her onto food homemade.
Making a switch
All of the general vitamins and minerals can certainly be obtained through whole food, and not at much more expense than you would pay for regular dog food. All you need is a form of meat (preferably beef), occasional organs, bones (for gelatin and bone stock), root vegetables (cooked with the bone stock), saturated fats (coconut oil or tallow), and fruits. Much of the vitamins and minerals will come from the rich bone stock, which should be cooked for a long period of time.
If you have a local farmer’s market, ground organ, bone, and other meat can be obtained – though, it’s usually frozen. Scrap meat can be picked up from a butcher, and you can try to talk them down a price.
It doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive to feed your dog right. If your dog has some sort of health ailment, such as allergies, experimenting what foods feel right with your dog is the best way to go, with the results being immediate.
Chloe Trogden specializes in research involving all forms of college grants. She has compiled thousands of resources including the Pell grant along with many others. She is currently attending UNC Chapel Hill and is entering her Junior year in the fall.