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Dr. Andy
Dr. Andy, Medical Director
Category: Dog
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Experience:  UC Davis Graduate, Interests: Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Pain Management
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I have a six year old Dachshund with bad allergy issues. He

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I have a six year old Dachshund with bad allergy issues. He scratches a lot, loses hair, sneezes, etc. I do take him to the vet on a regular basis. We did blood work this week which came out fine. No thyroid, Kidney or liver issues. I was feeding him Instinct limited ingredient frozen raw lamb. He began to throw it up the past couple days. MY vet suggested venizon but my dog will not touch it. He has been eating hamburger and rice the past couple days.
1. How long can I put him on hamburger and rice? I have tried to get him to eat duck, and rabbit ( all raw) and he is not going for it. I tend to avoid chicken only because of his allergies get worse after chicken.
2.Any food suggestions for me? Thanks you
Welcome! My name isXXXXX am a 2003 graduate from UC Davis, and currently a Medical Director of a veterinary hospital.

I am sorry to hear about this concern for Levi.

Well, a few points.
For dog's with allergies, 75% of the time, it is an environmental allergy and has nothing to do with the food!

For food issues, I have so many problems with raw diets. So many dogs with gastrointestinal problems when eating raw, which has no benefit relative to food allergies.

Allergies will 80% of the time be an environmental allergy, with only 20% or less representing food allergies. Some pets, suffer from both environmental and food allergies:
Atopy (environmental allergies)

If you want to actual diagnose what in the environment may be causing the allergy, you can do an allergy test. Now, you don’t have to shave half the body and do the old grid test on the skin. There is now a blood test that looks for allergies to weeds, trees, grasses!, molds, even house dust mites. You can read more about it here:

Testing for Environmental Allergies

If your veterinarian does not offer VARL,
VARL testing
they may offer a comparable company to perform the blood test like Heska.

It is important to also recognize, once the skin is inflamed or has an odor, there is likely a secondary yeast or bacterial skin infection present. It is critical for any secondary infection to be treated aggressively, as the infection itself will contribute to the pruritus (itching or increased licking).

Now, I did say that up to 20% of pets can actually have food allergies. So, to rule-out food allergies you need to do a diet trial.
Summary: The primary protein in most dog foods is lamb, chicken, or beef. The primary carbohydrate is rice or corn. So, you need to change both. The most popular alternative diets are Venison and Potato, Duck and Potato, or Fish and Potato. It is available in prescription formulas (i.e. Science Diet D/D) or you can find some similar foods at the big pet stores like PetSmart or PetCo. I always recommend picking a “limited-ingredient diet” from your vet to ensure you are doing the trial properly. Just make sure that when they say Venison is the "main ingredient" they don't sneak in other stuff like lamb meal or fish meal. A non-prescription option would include Dick Van Patten's brand called Natural Balance. Keep in mind, holistic or all-natural foods are not necessarily any better when trying to remove a food allergy. Chicken is chicken, and rice is rice. When you perform a diet trial, you must stick with the food for 2-3 months to see if there is any benefit. NO OTHER treats or human food can be given during this time period. Remember, a grain-free diet is not necessarily any better. Over 75% of the time, it is the protein in the diet that is the problem. Lastly, even a limited ingredient diet, as explained above, is not good enough. Sometimes, you need to use a food that is processed in such a way, that the body cannot react to it. A popular choice is Science Diet Z/D low allergen or Ultra allergen. They utilize hydrolyzed protein. The body cannot react to the protein in the food.
Food Allergies

TREATMENT OPTIONS (A small representative list - some suggestions you may have already tried)
1. Steroids. Veterinarians will either give an injection that can last from hours to weeks, or send home oral steroids like prednisone or dexamethasone. Steroids can be safe if not used long-term (several months) and if used as directed by your veterinarian. Frequently, the oral steroids will be weaned down to the lowest dose necessary to keep the allergy suppressed.

2. Antihistamines. A prescription of hydroxyzine is common. Sometimes, over-the-counter Benadryl will help. However, for many allergies, antihistamines alone frequently are not good enough to control allergies. But, if your pet is already on steroids, they can help to reduce the necessary dose to keep the comfortable.

Benadryl can be given at a dose of 1mg per pound of body weight. Keep in mind, Benadryl tablets and liquids come in different sizes. So, an approximately 25 pound dog can get a full 25mg tablet or a half of a 50mg tablet. I usually avoid the liquid Benadryl in larger dogs (you would have to give too much of it). You can give Benadryl every 8-12 hours.

3. Essential fatty acid supplements. Definitely, if you plan to give an antihistamine long-term, combine it with an EFA.
I prefer the veterinary products, which are already dosed for pets. Your vet should carry a product on their shelf, or over-the-internet you can look for Aller G3, 3V caps, EFA-z, or Derm caps.

4. Atopica. A immunosuppressive medication, that help regulate the way your pet’s body reacts to allergens. Neat stuff. It is important to note that it can take several weeks before benefit is observed, and tends to be a bit more expensive than typical allergy treatments. Read the link below for more information. Although Atopica is not readily available, your veterinarian can order a generic cyclosporine. Not quite as good, but it is an alternative.

5. Your vet should also carry some special sprays and shampoos designed for whatever skin condition your pet may have. One of my favorite product lines is called Douxo. They carry various shampoos designed to calm the skin, treat bacteria infections, and help with seborrhea (dry, scaly or scabby skin)
Douxo products

6. Lastly, oral antibiotics and/or anti-yeast medication, if indicated. Generally, your vet will recommend a simple skin cytology test to see what is on the surface of the skin. This should be inexpensive, and can be perform in the hospital. This is a key test especially when the skin is itchy, as secondary infections will actually exacerbate the degree of pruritis (itching) of your pet.

I do agree and I am not surprised if issues were worse with chicken. Remember, often, it is the protein that is causing the allergy, not the grain.

Not great, but the company Blue Buffalo does make a limited ingredient formula called "Blue Basics". One of their options is a Turkey based food. Also, some dermatology specialist offer a Iams prescription diet which is Kangaroo and Oat. A popular choice with dermatology specialists.

Hope that information has been helpful.
Please remember to select Reply to Expert, if for any reason you need further clarification, have more questions, or were expecting a different type of answer. My goal is to provide the best answer possible prior to you leaving a feedback rating.
Dr. Andy

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello Dr Andy


Thank you for the prompt and detailed reply.

We did the environmental allergy test and had the shots. Sadly nothing improved and our Vet did warn us that it only has a 60% chance.

I do give him Benadryl daily or as needed. The Vet noticed this week that his breathing is labored.

Since day one my doggie will NOT eat any kibble or form of kibble. I have tried to stick it out and 8 days go buy with him not eating a bite so I give in and cook food for him.

I have tried Buffalo and Science Diet. No luck. I bought the Primal frozen Venison and he is not going for it one bit.

He seems to like Hamburger and rice, just not sure if its good enough to feed him on a long term basis.


I am very thankful for the shampoo suggestions and will order them online asap. I just want him comfortable. He scratches so much that his skin bleeds. I am trying to find a good meal for him.

Thank you


One other thought. It will cost a bit more but worth it!

Consulting a nutritionist or even the UC Davis nutrition service for a home prepared suggestion.

UC Davis Nutrition Dept

Ask Ariel Nutrition

Another option for helping you to prepare a at-home meal, but not as a replacement to a true consultation with a nutritionist:
BalanceIt Food Recipe Maker

Best extra ideas I can come up with. I hope my responses have been helpful.

Hope that additional information helps. Definitely, reply to me if there is any other way I may assist you.
Dr. Andy
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