As anyone who has read my blog knows I have fed Ted a raw meaty bones diet since not long after he came to live with us. He’s nearly two now and he’s been raw fed for pretty much his entire life.
Several months ago Ted started scratching more. This was mainly first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Nothing that concerned me initially, but it steadily got worse and progressed to him biting the base of his tail. When I looked at the skin he was biting it was definitely irritated and pink. What to do?
Obviously one of my options was to do an elimination diet but I’ll be honest I wasn’t convinced that it was going to be the solution. We have a holiday let in Cornwall and when it’s not booked we use it pretty regularly. When we purchased it Ted and I spent a couple of months down there getting it ready for lettings. During this time the itching and biting reduced significantly and led me to a list of possible culprits for the itching:
- Grain fed meat – We know that lots of dogs don’t tolerate grains well and that more and more our meat is grain fed and this can be a problem. Most of Ted’s meat comes from local butchers and farmers markets. So we started making sure that his meat was coming from pasture fed and free range sources. This didn’t involve much change in what we purchased and didn’t solve the itching it seemed.
- Feather duvet – Our home duvet is down (purchased before I read about live plucking of geese for down, not something I’d be in a hurry to buy again, google it, it’s horrific!). Our holiday let duvet is synthetic. So I had in my mind that if we concluded it was down we’d have to change our home duvet.
- Water – We have a problem with limescale at home and our water doesn’t taste that great so I wondered if the different water in Cornwall had caused the drop in itching and biting. We started buying bottled water for Ted at home to see if it was this before we invested in a filter.
With the changes in place the itching and biting faded away and now apart from the odd quick scratch now and then Ted doesn’t scratch and I haven’t seen him bite himself for a couple of months. Given that he has been sleeping on down we concluded it wasn’t the culprit. As pretty much all his meat turned out to be grain fed anyway we also decided it wasn’t likely to be this either.
So the conclusion is it’s something in the water back home. One of the reasons I’m convinced that it’s this is Ted drinks more water now he has bottled water at home. When I clean and refill his bowl he usually has a drink whereas before he never did and he drinks longer when he does and more frequently. It’s almost like he enjoys it more!
So we’re getting a proper filter installed. Bottled water is environmentally unfriendly and given the water is doing Ted no good it can’t be much good for us either so a house filter seems to make more sense.
I wanted to share the story as it may help other people with itchy dogs think about what factors might contribute to the problem. One of the things I didn’t really consider is chemical cleaners but this is because we use organic cleaners at home and our holiday let is usually cleaned using chemical cleaners as it is what the cleaning company use. So I thought it was unlikely to be this given the itching stopped in Cornwall.
I’m so glad we solved it as watching him biting and scratching repeatedly was upsetting. It gave me an insight into how awful it is to live with a dog with allergies and I really feel for those of you in this position.
If you’re reading this and are a raw feeder looking for help I’d definitely recommend thinking about water as a possible factor. If you are new to, or considering, raw feeding then please be open minded about switching. Very few people go back to feeding dog food once they’ve given raw a go and it can help with so many problems.
We have a few listed on the Guest Dog Blogs page if you would like to read more about dogs with problems who have been helped by raw feeding. There is lots of info on my site and also links to other resources on the Don’t Take My Word For It page.
I’ll leave you with Ted, the little dog who has saved us from drinking dubious water ourselves. The benefits of raw feeding stretch way beyond the health of your dog.