While shedding and itching are typical signs of an allergic condition, you should be aware that clinical allergy testing is an expensive and potentially traumatic experience for your dog, without any guarantee of conclusive results. A typical course of allergy testing involves injecting a variety of allergens into the skin to see if they provoke a reaction. If so, a prescribed series of injections are formulated to give the dog over a period of time. Blood tests are also available which can identify allergens without the skin testing, however their efficacy has not been proven. They should be reserved for cases where skin testing is not possible. Before rushing into this drastic procedure, it would be wise to step back and consider one of the most overlooked fundamentals.
It has been my experience that most of our pet’s skin conditions have more to do with the quality of their daily diet than an allergy. Many dog foods, even those labeled natural or organic, contain ingredients which are foreign to your dog’s natural dietary requirements and digestion. Dry kibble that uses corn, wheat, soybean, flours, or other carbohydrate foods as a significant protein source are unnatural for dogs and can be a contributing irritant. Processing them creates undo stress on their system because your pet was not designed to digest these fillers everyday, in every meal. Over the course of months and years, this stress will take it’s toll, weakening the body’s purification and immune systems. This weakening can lead to a serious condition and ultimately to a more chronic one such as arthritis or diabetes.
Your pet’s staple food should therefore derive a majority of it’s protein content primarily from animal sources, not plants or grains. Nutritional deficiencies, such as protein, are usually avoided by changing your pet’s food to one made from the highly digestible animal protein your dog is designed to process. Your dog is primarily a carnivore. Sure a he can survive on a cheap grain based diet but to thrive he absolutely needs his portion of meat. Call the manufacturer of your pet’s food and ask them how much of their “crude” protein comes from animal sources. A quality food maker will not equivocate on this point.