I hope this post can help anyone’s dog suffering from skin issues. As I mentioned in an Instagram post last week, my dog (her name is Chiki), suffered for many years from skin allergies that would get infected as she scratched constantly. She had to visit the vet constantly and nothing seemed to help her. Creams, anti-inflammatory medications, and antibiotics will did little good for a brief time and then we will be back with the same issues again and again. We took her to different vets and they changed the brand of her food a couple of times. They will also ask me to wash her bed with certain hypo allergenic soaps but her skin allergies and issues kept coming back every time. The vet also asked us to change the liquid we used to mop the floors. We did everything that was suggested but nothing worked.This was until about four years ago. I was so desperate and tired of watching Chiki suffer and of spending too much time and money on medicines and vet visits that were not helping much. Finally, something clicked inside of me. I figured that it had to be the food that Chiki was eating what was causing her these allergies. I started using common sense and decided I was going to start giving Chiqui real food instead of dog food. I read a lot about how to prepare all natural whole food meals for dogs. I had planned to transition her slowly from regular dog food to natural food but once she tried real food, she didn’t want regular dog food anymore. I would mix the natural food I prepared with some of her regular dog food but she would manage to eat everything in her plate but the dog food. It didn’t take long to realize this was the answer to cure her skin allergies.
I did the transition without the help of a vet because every time I would ask them if the dog food could be causing the skin allergies, they would change her food brand to other alternative that did not solve anything either. When I would ask about the possibility of trying out giving Chiki real food they will all say that “human” food was not good for dogs and that the dogs get bad odors from eating food that is not “dog food”. A dog with infected skin allergies living in very humid and hot weather doesn’t smell good anyways so it was worth the try.
After many months on her new diet, Chiki’s looked healthier than ever!. No skin issues at all. I took her to the vet because I wanted to make sure she wasn’t deficient of anything. I was so happy after they gave me the results of her blood tests and everything was perfect. Her weight was also good and her skin was totally healthy. At the end of the consultation I told the vet that I had been giving Chiki real “human” food for the last couple of months, gave him all the details, and asked him his opinion regarding adding or taking anything away. He said her diet was fine. I still don’t understand why in the past, he and all other vets that I had consulted with had steered me away from giving Chiki real food to see if this would clear her allergies. Now it seems so logical. And after I researched about what’s on most dog food, It’s clear that most dog food available is hardly food. It’s incredible how we get so brainwashed that we loose touch with our common sense and with our instincts.
If your dog suffers from skin allergies, or from other health issues and you have run out of options to cure it, maybe what I did could be worth a try. Natural whole foods do wonders for everyone’s health. Ideally, you can find a vet that can help you with the transition but if not, it’s really not complicated at all. Like anything new, it’s a little hard at the beginning but after a couple of weeks you will get the hang of it. You’ll see that it will become really easy, really fast. For me it’s way easier than dealing with an illness.
Below are the details of what worked for us. I did a lot of research before changing Chiki’s diet and you should do it too so you can determine (hopefully with your vet) what will work better for your dog. Please be aware that what I’m about to share is only what I did and what has worked for us for the past four years. You should always do your research and consult with a vet. I hope this can help other dogs that are suffering from similar issues.
I usually use two pots. One for the meat and the other one for the plant based food. You just have to cut the meat and vegetables in bite size pieces. Then, boil the meat in very little water and in a separate pot either steam or boil the vegetables. I make a batch of food that lasts close to a week and I use Chiki’s food plate to measure the amount I know works for her. I store it in individual servings.
I used to cook everything together and this also works fine. Just make sure to add the vegetables first and the meat at the end since it cooks faster. If you plan to freeze it, cook it a little bit less than if you are going to store the extra portions in the fridge. Vegetables will get softer when you freeze and defrost them.
A lot of people that feed their dogs natural foods give them raw meat. This works perfectly fine and could be an option for you. My brother’s dog is a golden retriever and he has eaten raw meat for years. The reason why I choose to cook the meat is because I don’t like to run the risk of bacteria spreading throughout my house from Chiki’s hairy mustache. The vegetables, on the other hand, should always be cooked though because cooking them makes them easier for dogs to digest. Do not add any salt or any other spice to any of the food.
EXAMPLES OF MEATS:
My everyday staples for Chiki are lean cuts of beef, skinless chicken (any part), liver, hearts, etc. I don’t give Chiki pork meat. If you choose to give your dog pork, make sure it is thoroughly cooked. You need to vary the type of meat so your dog gets different nutrients. I will give Chiki one type of meat for several days and then I will switch to another variety of meat for the next batch I cook. If you are cooking the meat, it needs to be boneless. Never give cooked bones to your dog because they can break and act as splinters.
Every now and then I give Chiki canned sardines (the ones that come in water). Since sardines usually come with their tiny bones, they are a great source of calcium. Canned meats are a great option when you run out of the home cooked meals. Canned tuna also works great for this. Just make sure any canned meat comes in water (not oil) and watch the sodium content: the lowest the better. If you are in a hurry, you can mix a can of veggies with a can of tuna or sardines. Chiki loves sardines with peas and carrots!
ABOUT THE PLANT BASED PART OF THE MEAL:
The key with the plant-based food is to offer variety just as we do with the meat. I usually only include 2 different types of veggies per batch of food. For example, one batch could include carrots and broccoli, next batch could be sweet potato or pumpkin and cauliflower. If your dog is overweight and doesn’t do much physical activity, you can limit the amount of starchy vegetables like potatoes, etc. and favor leafy greens and non-starchy veggies like broccoli (see list of foods to avoid at the end of the post).
IMPORTANT DETAILS TO REMEMBER:
- Don’t add salt or any other spice to your dog’s food. It’s OK if you use any canned food or vegetable that has salt once in a while, but don’t over do it.
- If your dog has any specific health issue you should consult with your vet so you give more or less of the types of foods that would help your dog with it’s health issue.
- Watch your dog’s weight and adjust the amount of food to keep him slim. If your dog needs to loose weight you can choose leaner cuts of meats and favor non-starchy vegetables. If your dog is slim and very active you can give him meats with a higher fat content and increase the amount of starchier vegetables.
- I tend to fill around half of Chiki’s plate with plant-based foods and the other half with meat.
FOODS TO AVOID:
- Don’t give your dog: onion, garlic, the seeds of fruits, grapes, raisins, avocados, walnuts, Macadamia nuts, sweeteners, cows milk, chocolate, candy, mushrooms, coffee, tea or alcohol.
- Remember not to give your dog any bone that has been cooked. They can break and act as splinters. You can give your dog raw bones to chew. My dog is weird and doesn’t like them. I think she gets frustrated with them because she’s crazy about food and the bones are such teasers.
Natural Extra Calcium: Once in a while I would take a previously washed and dried egg shells and put it in a blender to make it into powder. I will then add ½ a teaspoon on top of one serving of Chiki’s food. This measurement provides around 1000 mg of calcium.
Natural Dog Treats: You can give your dog fruit as treats. Just one or two small pieces. The same way you would administer store bought dog treats. Chiki’s favorite fruit treat is banana. She really goes crazy every time someone is eating one. This is when she makes all the tricks she know to earn it. It’s hilarious. You can also use berries, a piece of apple, pear, papaya, etc. (see list of foods to avoid at end of post).
Remedy to Settle an Upset Stomach: You can give your dog plain yogurt, kefir, and/or cooked white rice. You can give these separate or mixed together if they have an upset stomach.
Natural Remedies to Soothe Itchy Skin:
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Water Spray: As soon as you see skin irritation, bug bites or scaly spots on you dog, you can mix equal parts of water and raw, unfiltered ACV and put it on a spray bottle. Spray the affected area two or three times a day. The vinegar smell will disappear as soon as it dries. This will help with the itching and help the skin lesions heal faster. Do not apply this remedy to any open wound. If you dog has scratched his skin to the point of having an open wound, its better if you put between ¼ to 1tsp of ACV in it’s food. This will also help. You can also prepare the following oat soak if your dog has raw or very irritated skin.
- Oats and Water Anti Itch Soak: Take 1 cup of oatmeal and put it in a blender so it becomes a powder. Since my dog is small, I use a big plastic bucket where Chiki fits to mix the oat powder with warm water. The water will have a milky look. Soak your dog for around 15 minutes. You can use a bathtub if your dog is bigger so it can stand comfortably. Oatmeal can make the inside of a bathtub slippery so you can put an old towel at the bottom to prevent your dog from sliding. After you are done soaking, dry your dog with a towel. Do not rinse your dog.
I hope this will help any furry friend that’s suffering with a health issue similar to Chiki’s. Let me know if you have anything else you want to know about. I’ll be glad to help.
Elena (and Chiki)