3 Key Points in Making an Allergy-Free Dog Diet

by Rachele Lengelsen on 23 April 2010 4 comments

I adopted my four-legged friend six years ago from our local no-kill shelter. (Animal shelters are a great place to find new additions to your family. Just make sure that you pick a pet that will fit in to your busy family life style.)

After purchasing the usual squeaky toys, bones, treats, shampoos, beds, crates, dog bowls, collars, and leashes, my next dilemma would be in feeding. What brand should I choose for a balanced diet?

I started feeding my dog the usual diet of a highly-priced kibble from the local pet store that was greasy, hard, high in fat, and crushed between my fingers. I wasn't impressed after reading the back label, either. The dog food's ingredients had "meat" that I could not pronounce, nor did I know what it consisted of. I switched brands several times to no avail. Brands boasted of "Lamb and Rice," "Pure Meat," and the organic brands stated "No Meat." What should I choose?

During her puppy years, I searched for a balanced food. I noticed that she never seemed satisfied after eating, and she had very dry and flakey skin and scratched incessantly. I tried many home remedies to abate the allergies consisting of over-the-counter allergy medications and anti-inflammatory treatments. These seemed to work for a short time, but I realized she could not stay on these medications for a lifetime.

To my dismay, on a dreary day in March 2007, my nightly news reported that dog food was contaminated with Melamine, a contaminant found in many brands of pet foods made overseas. Many animals had started dying from the contaminant which caused kidney and liver failure. At that moment, after doing some research, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a low cost, and allergy-free diet from my home pantry supplies.

The key to a quick, nutritious, and inexpensive allergy-free diet is in following these easy points. It may take a little time and effort to prepare this diet but it is a great tool for the frugal pet owner and less expensive then the pricey "organic" food from the pet stores.

1. Meat

Make sure you include a high protein meat in your dog's diet. Lamb is an excellent source of protein, but if you are on a tight budget, ground turkey is inexpensive second choice from the grocery. You can also choose the "organic" brand of ground turkey which usually isn't priced much more then the store brand. Ground turkey is easy to store and easy to prepare. Pick lean meats and stay away from high-fat meats.

2. Brown rice

Good source of calories, carbohydrates, and proteins. Brown rice also supplies vitamins and minerals lost in white varieties. If the brown rice is too expensive, then pick the parboiled white rice. It's approximately 80% the quality of brown rice and is more nutritious than white rice. The frugal shopper can buy in bulk or when your grocery stores offer buy one get one free, and rice stores for many months. For a few extra months of storage, place the rice in the freezer. Freezing it keeps the moths from invading. I usually prepare a 2:1 (meat: rice) mix that my dog will eat in a few days.

3. Vitamin and mineral supplements and oils

I would advise to check with your veterinarian about what vitamins and mineral supplements your particular breed needs while eating a meat and rice diet. The amount of essential nutrients also varies with weight and age. It is important to get the correct dosage for the vitamins, minerals, and oils that you will add to the feed.

After I fed my dog the allergy-free diet, she became more satisfied after she ate. Her coat is shinier than before, and she does not have red patches nor does she scratch incessantly.

I now feed her a more balanced diet including proteins of fish, other meats, eggs, pumpkin, and cottage cheese. I feed her vegetables from our garden, which are easy to access and are free. She enjoys fruit, used sparingly in her diet, and treats of slices of apples, oranges, and bananas. And I always include her vitamins and mineral supplements and oils.

Nutrition is a high priority for healthy living for us, as well as our pets. A walk in the park and fresh air are free, and most pets enjoy the busyness of the outdoors and the time with their family.

This is a guest post by Rachele Lengelsen.

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Michael

You should take out the rice and replace it with leafy greens and appropriate fruits and vegetables.  Dogs have a difficult time digesting grains (of all kinds) due to their shorter digestive tracts, and the grains also stick to their teeth more causing accelerated decay.

I've been feeding my dog (rescued from a high-kill shelter in Louisiana - and yes, such horrible things do exist!) raw for the past year, and he went from an itchy, perpetually hungry, reactive dog to a much calmer dog with no health issues.  Also, he's of a breed that is predisposed to pancreatitis, and this is a great way to limit his fat intake and to make sure he gets only good fats. 

 

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Guest

How much rice and other grains and vegetables and fruit would dogs eat in the wild? And I don't think they would avoid fat. Wouldn't their diet be all the meat and fat they could handle and maybe a nibble of grass?

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Sarah

I started making my dog's food a couple months ago. My vet told me 1/3 meat, starch, and veggies plus a mixture of vitamins/supplements/whatever. My puppy goes crazy for the stuff and I feel a lot better not having to worry about what's in his pet food. 

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Jess

My husband and I also make our own dog food. Our black lab who we adopted from the local Humane Society had terrible gas and pooped way too much. We tried expensive dog food supposedly made of food humans could eat and that worked for awhile but when he started having terrible gas again we decided to make his food. We use brown rice, low fat meat of some kind - often ground turkey or ground beef, sometimes chicken, cottage cheese, and a variety of vegetables. We also mix in olive oil, dried seaweed, flax seed oil pills, vitamins and supplements. He is rarely stinky now and his coat is great. He's always excited to eat and eats everything within seconds. It takes some time to make it but our dog is family and we want to give him the best while he's here (he has melanoma).