This article was written by Chris Oriley (Wellington, New Zealand).

I adopted my black Labrador Ernie in 2005 when he was 3.5 years old.

Severe hip dysplasia

Not long after he was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia. He was scratching, nibbling his hips, had dandruff and a dull coat. At first, we thought he was nibbling as his hips were sore. He had always been on Eukanuba and I continued to feed this as well as canned fish in natural oil to help his coat.

Over the next few months, the itching became worse to the point he was nibbling his body and scratching 24 hours a day.

What is causing my dog to itch all the time?

Ernies long dog allergy story


The vet insisted it was something in the house or yard and gave one medication after the other. I began researching food allergies. The vet suggested I removed all the carpets as it was dust and he sleeps on cotton. I cleaned every day as he dropped fur by the handful so where was the dust.

I asked about food and was told kibble is the best and not food. I got him cotton bedding which I washed daily. It became worse if that was possible.

Neither of us could go on like this. I decided to try another vet. By this time my poor boy was beside himself with itching. Night and day he scratched. More tests for parasites and this vet suggested it could be food.

Ernie was to see a skin specialist who was only available in our area once a month. I couldn’t wait a month. I had to do something. Anything to give my boy relief.

Some required legal talk

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We switched dog food

I took him off the dry Eukanuba dry food while we waited. What harm could it do and the vet agreed. Within a week he seemed to feel better. Within a month he was a different dog and we decided not to see the specialist. The vet was amazing. She believed in holistic and western medicine.

A year later she left and after endlessly switching food was feeding home cooked and a natural dry food, which seemed o.k. Ernie couldn’t eat bones so feed dry to be sure he was getting the right vitamins. I live in New Zealand and the choice of dry food is small.

This is NOT separation anxiety!

By August 07 he had excessive thirst, vomiting a lot, his coat was once again dull, nibbling his hips and had trouble getting up and down, so we presumed it was his hips. An ultrasound of his bladder and a long list of blood tests revealed no abnormalities. I was told he had separation anxiety. No way!

I didn’t know what to do next. There were no holistic vets available so I blundered on best I could gaining knowledge from where ever I could get it, and trying new foods.

By Xmas 2007 he was so sick he wouldn’t eat and constantly vomiting. I hounded a new vet at the clinic and told him “I know my dog and need some help. It is not separation anxiety. There is something wrong with him.” I was embarrassed by my outburst, but I had to speak for my dog.

Diagnosed with IBD

He was diagnosed with IBD which means he cannot eat foods he has eaten before. I was told this is often happening to dogs with food allergies. The pain he had was from his gut as well as his hips. I was glad he was getting help but angry he went through all this.

Using Prednisone as a last resort

Three months of prescription diet for his IBD and Prednisone he was a changed dog. I had never seen him look so healthy. The whites of his eyes were white, not bloodshot and his coat gleamed. Unfortunately, he suffered Cushing’s side effects from the Prednisone. As soon as he came off the Prednisone itching started again.

It is now July 2008 and vets have suggested long-term Prednisone to help his allergies and IBD. This is the last resort. I need to be extra careful food doesn’t cause a flare-up of his IBD, but also treat his allergies.

I have a greedy Labrador allergic to food and not sure how best to deal with it.

Dog Food Recipes

dog food recipe

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