Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh, beef

Think, just for a moment, what your dog’s life would be like if he couldn’t have any beef products.
No beef food? That can’t be too difficult; just pick up a bag of chicken or lamb kibble, right? Wrong. You’ll spend a half hour or more reading through the ingredient list of every commercial dog food looking for one that does not have animal byproducts. Because think about it — what is an animal byproduct? Other than the fact that it’s from an animal, you really don’t know. And if your dog can’t have beef, you can’t risk feeding him something with animal byproducts because those byproducts might just come from a cow. So, good luck finding a commercial dog food.
What about bones? Well, most bones come from cows. Same goes for rawhides. Your dog’s favorite treats have just officially gone out the window. Good luck satisfying his urge to chew now.
You’ll just buy some of those durable Nylabone chew toys, right? Think again. It can be difficult to find Nylabones that aren’t flavored with beef. Even many rope toys and other toys are now flavored with beef too, so you must be careful about selecting non-flavored toys.
How about treats? Most treats are beef-flavored or, like commercial dog foods, contain undisclosed animal byproducts. Luckily, there is a wide variety of non-beef treats on the market right now and this is one of the easier hurdles to overcome.
It doesn’t stop there. Dogs that can’t have beef, due to allergies, may also have issues with leather. This, thankfully, is also not such a big deal. It just means using nylon collars and leashes rather than leather ones, which most people already use anyway.
All things considered, though, a dog who can’t have beef certainly is a challenge, and it makes you kind of sad for your dog too. How would you feel if you could never give your dog a tasty bone to chew on again?
I started testing Sensi this morning to see if he is still allergic to beef. This is the second time in his life that we’re doing food trials to determine what he is allergic to — though admittedly, if we’d done a more thorough job the first time around, we probably wouldn’t be doing it all over again.
A food trial is when you limit the dog’s access to anything other than his veterinarian-approved diet and water until the dog has no symptoms of allergies, then you add a specific food item to his diet daily for one week and watch for symptoms of the allergy to return. The week that follows, you return to his veterinarian-approved diet only and continue monitoring the dog for symptoms of allergies. The next week, you start over with a different food item. It’s a process of elimination way to determine what foods your dog is allergic to.
We’ve already tested Sensi for chicken, pork and salmon — all of which seem to be OK for him.
I’m nervous about the beef test because I feel pretty confident that he will react.
If, by some miracle, he does not, you can bet I’ll be going out and buying him the biggest bone I can find. The poor dog hasn’t had a bone in almost five years!


  1. We're keeping our fingers crossed for Sensi and hoping that he isn't allergic and can have his treat. JEA/Oxford.

  2. We've just discovered that our dog is allergic to beef, lamb, pork and chicken. The only meat he was tested for and not allergic to is turkey. We now have to figure out if we need to get rid of the leather suite. The vet tells us that it will take 7 weeks for a food to completely leave his system. He's also allergic to the microbes that live on his skin like staphylococcus. I feel your pain!

  3. Thanks for reading and posting, and sorry to hear about your dog — obviously, I know all too well how challenging allergies can be! We are still waiting for Sensi to clear up from the beef food trial; he is doing good but still on antibiotics.

    I highly recommend asking your veterinarian about Malaseb shampoo (or the new brand that is replacing it) and anti-itch leave-in conditioners. The shampoo is designed to kill the bad stuff living on your dog's skin and has really helped Sensi find some relief. Hydrocortisone cream is also working very well on those itchy spots.