I was doing a food allergy consult this morning. A lovely couple with a troubled Samoyed. Specifically, he was diagnosed with a range of food and now environmental “allergies”. They informed me they tried raw and their dog was on Hill’s Z/D. Sadly, it very clearly was not working. They were going down for monthly doses of Apoquel to reduce the symptoms of a very inflamed dog.
Herein lies the problem. A conventionally trained vet has no more tools in their toolbox. Once gut issues kick in, as they tend to do in dogs fed ultra-processed dry food though it can happen on raw too, albeit more rarely, this is your inevitable destination with a health practitioner lacking much of an understanding of food. With no real idea of how food works or how to use it when the shit hits the fan, the condition is left to rot. The gut condition continues to worsen. Soon, the gut membrane barrier can degrade and perforate (aka, leaky gut). Now half-digested protein strands sneak into the body cavity and your dog presents to someone like me with a NASA-esque reading of potential “allergens). This body does not sit idolly by, these are potential invaders, and send in the troops. Now you have inflammation and the beginning of a “sensitivity” to said particle.
To help the client understand why a chemically preserved, ultra-processed pellet made with hundreds of ingredients in a factory containing thousands, is no long-term solution to a dog with very obvious food sensitivities, I sometimes direct them to the product’s ingredients panel and explain some basic nutritional concepts.
In this case, the dog was equipped with a food allergy test demonstrating an IgE antibody (proper allergy) response to beet pulp among a vast array of other “suspected” antigens which were not IgE-mediated but IgG, which is not definitive as these antibodies are produced normally by the body during eating (hence the blood test must be done on a starved dog) as well well as during the inflammatory response. This is why to call them “allergies” is not necessarily correct. The term is food sensitivities and the reason we get snotty about that is that, unlike allergies where removal of the challenge in the unfortunate individual is all you can really do, with sensitivities there is a range of options, depending on how they kicked in. Most importantly, you can’t recover from allergies. It’s a genetic defect, you have them for life. Not so with the latter. We just have to find out why they kicked in and fix that first.
Beet pulp is the processing waste from the beet (sugar) industry. A common ingredient of dry pet food (they use it to help the sludge move through the gut) I wanted to see if it was in Z/D.
Check out the ingredients panel I’m now offered for Hill’s Z/D on their main website (attached, find at Hillspet main UK website). I mean, it tells you quite literally NOTHING about what’s inside. “Cereals, meat and animal derivatives, derivatives of vegetable origin, oils and fats, minerals.” It could contain literally anything.
I understand that it might not be good for business to admit the “meat” used in their magic “prescription” (contains no medicine, can be sold by newsagents) crackers is chicken feathers (at least Royal Canin’s version is…EDIT Z/d is made on hydrolysed chicken liver), how much less information are these companies going to be permitted to give us?!! Why give a panel at all?! Why not just say “This product contains ingredients”!
Moreover, when we’re no longer told exactly which cereals, animal or plant proteins and chemicals are in there, then how / why is this vet recommending such a complicated product to a dog with a dizzying array of food sensitivities?!!!!!
The couple were going in every two weeks. The cycle was Apoquel when his ears / skin / gut issue reared up, then come in two weeks later for a check up. At that check up things like “itch better” was stated, then two weeks later, deterioration and more Apoquel. Two weeks later “ears improved” or “skin better”. Two weeks later, deterioration. More Apoquel.
Do they actually believe Apoquel is fixing anything?!! Because it’s not. That’s not its job. It merely masks the symptoms. It’s a nice smelling and sometimes very useful plaster on gangrene…but only while you set about finding out WHY this is happening. As long as you keep on feeding the issue to the patient, fuelling the fire, your dog will be in perpetual need of a fire extinguisher. That is NO SOLUTION to this poor dogs troubles.
Do you know how many dogs are in this position?! Looking at the meteoric rise in sales of immune-suppressing pet drugs (see my book Feeding Dogs, for more), it’s a completely unnecessary epidemic.
Someone, for the love of God, tell me this is going to end soon…no doubt the poor dog is saying the same thing.
It’s not good enough.
If your dog has a food sensitivity, it’s rarely as simple as trying a new diet. If the dog’s gut is shot, it needs to be repaired otherwise you are simply driving a new car over a bad road. This article explains more.
If you need some hand-holding, I do 1hr consults.
A happy medium between the two is our popular course on Canine Allergies, for dogs with recurring skin, ear or gut conditions. It’s more than 3hrs of content and costs €59.95.