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The Two Biggest Concerns in Dogs – Allergies, Itching and Sensitive Stomach Issues

I receive many calls and emails pertaining to dog health issues, but the two most common questions are about:

  1. Suspected food allergies in their dogs or;
  2. Their dog’s inability to eat certain foods because it has a ‘sensitive stomach’

This month I will give you some answers to these very common questions and health issues. Both food allergies and sensitive stomachs oftentimes get mislabeled and can send dog owners spinning down a rabbit hole of despair. Stop the despair and please read on!

First Question:  My dog has allergies, what do I do?

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When someone tells me their dog has allergies, the first questions I ask is ‘What are your dog’s symptoms and how did you conclude your dog has allergies? Most often, I am told the dog has digestive issues or vomits on certain food; or is itchy on their sides, back, feet or face, so they are certain the problem is a food allergy.

In reality, most symptoms of allergies show up in the form of hives, itching, or skin and face issues (swelling and itching). It is important to note that food allergies are extremely rare in dogs, almost unseen. However, allergies can develop from repeated, constant exposure to the same food if fed the same commercial diet day after day for many, many months or years. The body needs to develop antibodies to a substance to develop an over-active immune system to think it is ‘alien’.


Allergy testing is very inaccurate – up to 50% inaccurate, and saliva-based tests are pure baloney, as they have no basis in being able to accurately diagnose any type of allergy.

The distribution of test results from samples obtained from allergic, non-allergic or fake dogs was not different from that expected due to random chance. Test-retest reproducibility was poor to slight.”



The next question I ask is ‘Where exactly does the dog itch?’ If it is the face, paws, back, or near the tail, I can almost guess that what is really going on is a yeast infection. Dogs do not get candida as humans do. They get an airborne yeast (fungus) called Malassezia. Dogs are most prone to getting this during wet, rainy seasons, hot weather, when we turn our furnaces on, or in dogs that swim. It also affects the ears causing a brown, thick discharge with an odor. Yeast breeds in moist places on the dog, most commonly around the eyes, mouth, ears, feet or anus. Treatment is not related to diet, unless however, you are feeding commercial dry dog food. These foods contains high amounts of carbohydrates, which convert to sugars. These sugars can then in-turn feed yeast growth. The resolve is more about bathing your dog frequently with an anti-fungal shampoo and rinsing with a solution of a few tablespoons of baking soda mixed in water.  Keep this mixture on for 10 minutes before rinsing. Apply topical sprays such as Tinactin Athletes foot spray or lotion to the feet and tail area to kill the yeast and apply anti-fungal solutions in the ears. Additionally, keep your dog’s bedding clean and wash floors frequently. It takes 30 days of this treatment to effectively to wipe out the yeast.

Read more on treatment here:



The second most common health issue I get questions on is about dogs that have difficulty with certain foods or switching foods. Some people tell me their dogs have ‘sensitive stomachs’. I can only guess this made up term comes from either the internet, or some popular product. They tell me their dog vomits or gets diarrhea whenever they switch kibble brands or from feeding specific proteins like chicken, beef, turkey . . . you name it. The answer is not the protein the dogs are reacting to, but rather one of the three other causes.

  • Over feeding: Over feeding causes the most diarrhea or stomach upset in dogs. Remember, dogs only need about 2% to 3% of their body weight daily for young, active dogs.  Less is needed in in middle-aged, spayed or neutered dogs, or dogs that do not get a lot of activity. Over-feeding or giving your do too much food will cause stomach issues.
  • Continual dry dog food feeding: Dry dog food contains a significant amount of sodium, which is used as a preservative. It is irritating to the digestive tract due to the dryness. Commercial dry foods are also is high in carbohydrates, which convert into sugars and high fiber. Sodium increases water intake, which in turn can cause digestive upsets. Feeding dry dog food without adding water or some fresh food will inflame and irritate the digestive tract lining. Additionally, high fiber diets, which contain high levels of grains and starches, also puts an extra strain on the intestinal tract causing diarrhea, gas and large loose stools.
  • Compromised and inflamed digestive tract: Once the digestive tract is compromised and inflamed, any additional fat OR fiber (vegetables, rice, grains) will produce explosive wet stools, sometimes with mucus. Why? Because once the intestinal lining is compromised, it can no longer effectively digest large amounts of fiber or fat. Both of these take their toll on inflamed and irritated digestive tract linings. This will then be diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). This simply means that the digestive tract lining is inflamed. How do you stop this? IBS or IBD does NOT mean your dog is sensitive to one food or protein, it means the need the digestive tract lining needs to heal.

Treatment for IBD or IBS:

Treatment is straightforward and is an easy 3-step process:

  1. Diet: The dog needs a moist diet. A moist diet is easier to digest and less irritating. I would recommend feeding your dog one of these three choices:
  2. a raw diet (the best solution)
  3. a home-cooked diet
  4. or a diet that includes 50% fresh food added to a kibble, dehydrated or freeze-dried diet

Feeding any of the three diets listed above will not only ease the strain on your dog’s digestive system, it will also help to fight yeast!

  1. Feed Smaller, more Frequent meals: When changing diets OR fighting diarrhea, feeding smaller, more frequent small meals puts less of a strain on your dog’s digestive tract. The larger the meal, the harder it is to digest.
  1. Beneficial Supplements: Adding two supplements to your dog’s diet can benefit the healing of their digestive tracts tremendously! The first is to give your dog L-glutamine at 2,000 mg per twenty pounds of body weight daily. This helps heal the digestive tract lining and helps with muscle development. The second is to add the Berte’s Digestion Blend. This product does have some L-glutamine in it, but you need to add additional L-glutamine for the first 6-8 weeks for the best results. Berte’s Digestion Blend also contains probiotics, which help put the good flora, and fauna back in the digestive tract, animal based digestive enzymes that help digest fats in the stomach before it hits the intestines, and supplements for nausea and better digestion. Give the Berte’s Digestion Blend at half dose for the first two weeks and then to full dose after the two-week initial period.

More information on IBD:



If your dog is itching and you think it might be allergies, PLEASE rule out yeast first! This can be done either by a skin scraping and culture at your veterinarian’s, and/or treating the yeast with an anti-fungal shampoo every other day for a week and rinsing with a solution of baking soda and water for 3 treatments and then repeating this weekly for four more weeks. You can also use Tinactin athletes foot spray as needed, keto wipes (look on Amazon for those) topically and Zymox in the ears for ten days. Keep bedding and floors washed daily.

If your dog is having trouble digesting food or switching foods, double-check the amount you are feeding your dog. The most common cause of stomach upset and diarrhea is caused by feeding too much food, so adjust the amount you are feeding, if necessary. If it is not that, then try smaller, more frequent meals (3-4 a day); add in l-glutamine to help heal the digestive tract lining and the Berte’s Digestion Blend for the probiotics to keep the good bacteria balanced and the enzymes to help with the digestion of fats.

During this time of the COVID 19 Pandemic, I send my love to you all and want you to remember to stay safe! Social distancing and wearing a mask and gloves when you are out is very important. It helps keep you and your neighbors safe. Please stay home as much as you can!

While you may experience meat shortages during this trying time, try to find the fresh food that you can. Please know that you can use eggs and yogurt to keep taurine levels up. You can add one egg per small dog, per day, two for a medium-sized dog and 2-3 for a large dog. You can feed raw eggs for those dogs who are used to it, or you can cook the eggs scrambled, over-easy in a dab of butter, or hard-boiled!

Making your own yogurt is also quite simple. See the recipe below:

  1. Bring one gallon of whole milk to a light boil
  2. Remove milk from the stove and put into 4 quart-sized containers
  3. Add 3-4 tablespoons of ready-made yogurt to each container
  4. Cover and put on counter or in an unheated oven
  5. Wait 24-48 hours and Voila!
  6. Fresh Yogurt for your dogs!