Old Trainer

Dog Nutrition and Skin Problems

Last time we discussed how poor canine nutrition contributes to skin problems and the high cancer rate in dogs. This column continues that discussion.

When two of my dogs developed skin problems I met with the vets I use for my pack. They determined mange or disease was not present, but otherwise could not pinpoint the cause.

They said inadequate diet is often part of the problem so that’s where I started. I learned the kibble I was feeding my dogs was literally junk food.

I was wasting money and shorting my dogs so I spent months researching dog food and found a healthy brand of kibble, loaded with nutrition. My dogs love it.

But I made other changes. I added a teaspoon of safflower oil per day to each dog’s food and, based on my vet’s advice, added 1,000 mg of fish oil daily for each dog. I switched to grain-free food for my two problem dogs and it had a positive effect.

Any time you change a dog’s diet blend in the new food over several days—10% new day one and two, 20% day three, 30% day four, 50% day five, 80% day six, 100% after that.

I now bathe them every couple of weeks and brush them to help them shed the old coat and to spread the natural skin oils.

But nutrition is not the only cause of skin problems. The use of liquid flea products containing toxic chemicals applied directly to the skin is a major problem. It’s ironic the products are sold by the same vets who are struggling to deal with the skin problems. I threw all those products in the trash and advise you to do the same. I switched to Comfortis which, as far as I can determine, contains no toxic chemicals.

Always look at the label before you apply any product to your dog’s skin. Flea collars are as hazardous as the liquid products. All contain toxic chemicals. The warning on one brand advises that if the collar so much as touches your skin you wash with soap and water for 15 minutes, then call the poison control center.

Toxic chemicals are as harmful to dogs as to humans, and yet they advise you to strap the collar on your dog for a month. No wonder canine cancer rates have soared.

A number of vets have written and spoken—including in sworn testimony before congress—about health issues caused by excessive vaccinations. Vets routinely give yearly vaccinations which are neither needed nor recommended. They give the same doses to small dogs they give to big ones. Educate yourself on what these vets are saying and protect your dog.

Toxic products used on lawns can be deadly to dogs, and yet toxic chemicals are routinely applied to lawns and shrubs.

So there are plenty of possible causes of skin problems, but a good place to start is nutrition. A number of vets now post recipes for making healthy dog food at home. I try to always cook extra vegetables and pasta to add to my dog’s food. I add eggs twice a week for each dog.

I managed to cut the skin problems by about eighty percent. It’s an unending battle, but the more you work at it the healthier your dog will be.

A trainer for more than 30 years, Jack Haskins has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,500 dogs. Send questions to theoldtrainer@gmail.com.