Post 4.1 - Children with Four Legs

I have a busy day on Thursday, so I thought I'd post this a little early. One of the errands I have is actually related to my dog, so it's sort of appropriate that everything is happening this way.

My dog is an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois, and he is completely devoted to me. He also has food allergies.

I was surprised, too.

There have been commercials recently for some brands of dog food talking about "reading the ingredients", and there is something to that. But it turns out that dogs can suffer from food allergies just like humans, and I had to learn the hard way.

Before I moved, my commute was roughly one hour from home to office, which meant my dog was alone for at least 10 hours a day. He managed this well, but when his food allergies kicked in, let's just say I had a lot of cleanup when I would return home. His first vet was a very holistic, homeopathic-oriented person, so she prescribed rice, mashed potatoes, and a spoonful of Kaopectate - but he was basically getting no nourishment from this. He spent weeks on this diet, under her supervision, and not only was he not getting any better, but he was losing a dangerous amount of weight.

One morning, I was sure he would be dead by the time I returned home that evening, and I was completely distraught. My mother came to the house and stayed with him in case anything happened, and while at work, I called the vet, completely frantic. She finally reluctantly agreed to prescribe a Science Diet type of food called " i/d", specifically designed to make a dog regular, and that night I picked it up from her practice (as it only available from veterinarians) and began the search for a new vet. Luckily, there was a vet in my town who solely made house calls, and she was able to diagnose the problem almost immediately.

Combined with the prescription canned food, I switched him to Natural Balance (duck and potato flavor), which is a low-allergen dog food. He's been eating it ever since, and it's been nine years now and he is in perfect health. Not only is he completely regular, but he rarely has gas! The vet came back for a regular checkup a year later and asked me what kinds of treats I gave him, but I never deviate from his correct diet - it's just too important to his health, and he was really, really suffering.

While being perfect for his food allergy situation, this kind of food is also much healthier. It is well worth the effort to visit your local pet store and look at some of the more natural, low allergen options available. Most of what they advertise on TV is not what our dogs (or cats) should be eating. Some people advocate fully vegetarian diets for their dogs, and I don't know that I fully agree with that, but high quality dog food really does make a huge difference. At my local Petco, the 5-lb bag is about US$10-14, and a 17-lb bag is in the low $30s.

So tomorrow, we're going to the vet to pick up his canned food (12 cans are about $40), and he gets his much deserved ride-in-the-car. :-)

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  1. We are totally grain free here, treats and all. I read, read, read labels. I have gone to lamb for the dogs (poor lambs) because my little one seems allergic so all treats are lamb with no grains (no corn, wheat, soy…), and dried sweet potatoes. It isn’t as fun but… is much better for them.


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