And no, it's not a supplement!
We see A LOT of people talking about diet alone as the culprit for their dog's relentless itching, hair loss, and painful looking red skin. We won't deny that diet can play a big role in allergies. In fact it's certainly true that there are ways to calibrate your dog's diet to minimize their discomfort and vulnerability, which we'll eventually talk about in another post. But everywhere you look, there's dozens of companies making bold AF claims about their products, prompting far too many pet parents to shell out countless dollars in hopes of offering their pet some relief.
Trust us, we've been there. And in some instances, we did actually experience temporary relief and thought to ourselves FINALLY, we've found the magic fix! Yet we would eventually started seeing symptoms come creeping back.
So now what?? Well in our case, we followed the advice of our veterinarians and started a painstaking elimination diet to determine which proteins Sako (our allergy dog), had sensitivities to. 10/10 do not recommend this. The process took well over a year and when the time was up, it simply wasn't enough. While we were able to successfully identify some issues, we still didn't see the drastic improvement that we were hoping for.
Witnessing your dog suffer and feeling completely helpless, is a terrible feeling that we do not wish on any pet parents.
Tired of tossing away hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, we were totally distraught. And then, the mother of all yeast infections hit. This time requiring several weeks of antibiotics and tedious cleaning with medicated wipes any time he'd step foot outside. It was at that point we learned that we could actually have Sako allergy tested. While it was not a cheap process, costing just shy of $400, we had answers that NO amount of supplements, special diets, or trial and error could've ever given us. The results showed dozens of environmental allergies on top of many protein allergies. But what was most shocking was seeing the allergies to common ingredients that we'd never thought twice about. Things like flaxseed, peanut butter, beans, peas, oats, rice, barley. You name it, it was there with a giant red 'X', indicating an allergy. Nearly every commercial food on the market that is AAFCO approved, contained ingredients that Sako was allergic to.
So what's the point to all of this?
Well if we'd been given the opportunity to allergy test 6 years ago, it would've saved us literally thousands of dollars. Having factual information to offer a roadmap allowed us to create a far more practical game plan, and one that has actually worked. What we've learned is that the many companies that offer pet food or supplements, and even nutritionists with financial interest in your pet's health, won't tell you about allergy testing. Whether that's because they genuinely don't know about it or if they're looking to gain a paying client, we'll never know.
If you have a dog that suffers relentlessly from allergy symptoms, we highly suggest investing the money in having your vet perform a test that determines their allergies and sensitivities. And we promise, this post is not in any way sponsored by one of these testing companies, which is why we've opted out of mentioning the name of the service that we used. What we can tell you is, to speak to your vet. Don't be fooled into purchasing an over the counter, do it yourself testing kit. Many of the kits that we've found simply only suggest potential sensitivities and not necessarily allergies. We've seen some of these kits cost upwards of $150. That's a lot of money for answers that are not concrete. If one day we do find an at home kit that we trust, you bet we'll be adding it to our shop or sharing a blog post about it. Lastly, if you do choose to follow through with allergy testing, ask your vet for a list of the allergens that will be tested ahead of time. If there are things that you don't find on the list, such as common plants in your area or novelty proteins, you can always ask your vet to have these added in.
If you've had any experience with allergy testing or at home test kits (good or bad), feel free to drop a comment below! We always want to learn about your experiences and do investigative work into any other avenues that may exist.