If your dog is having skin problems, stop sticking to the same old food!

One of the easiest ways to improve your dog’s skin allergies.

You may already know that one of the best ways to get rid of your pet’s skin problems is through a diet change. 

And I agree it’s easier said than done, even if your dog’s perfectly fine. 

I still remember being in the pet shop for the first time, tasked to buy dried dog food for my Maltese; I was confronted with a dozen of different brands of kibbles (thankfully, I was in a smaller pet shop). 

Looking through all the brands, I spent nearly an hour in the shop, and it was exhausting trying to compare the minute differences. 

In the end, I went for something that was within my mid-range budget, with the longest ingredient list. I paid for the food and walked out of the store with a spring in my step, still feeling proud that I’d unlocked the ‘Savvy Shopper’ achievement – getting the most stuff for the least price possible.

I’m sure you have had the same experience, and these days, it seems more challenging.

“If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

Don’t you think that the adage is even more pronounced in recent times? I was shopping for bedsheets, and every year they seem to be able to attach new terms to similar products – Pima, Sateen, Jacquard, Maillard (Just kidding, but who knows?).

It’s not just daily products. I’m even having problems keeping up with all the new pet products that are on the market and finding myself figuring out what’s good and what’s not.

Why do I bother? The right diet is the best way to help owners with their dog’s health issues – especially skin problems.

The good news is that no matter how fancy dog food gets, the fundamentals never change. 

Back to the basics

I’ve helped many owners with their dog’s skin problems, and here are three tips I always share that will make things easier and increase your odds of success.

  1. Choose a good food
  2. Fewer ingredients mean a lesser chance of allergies
  3. Every dog is different. Try until you succeed

1. Choose A Good Food

No one can promise you a brand to solve your dog’s skin problems. You can only increase the odds by selecting good quality food.

But what does it mean by good quality?

Given the amount of competition going on, there’s a lot of confusion. 

Here are some tips I would like to offer you:

  • To oversimplify things, identify the brands sold in supermarkets and stay away.
  • There are some brands whose prices are suspiciously low (costs as little as supermarket brands).
  • Check if the ingredients are specific.
  • Corn should preferably be avoided. 
  • Avoid products that use BHT or BHA as preservatives. 
  • Don’t get fooled by fancy ingredients. 

Here’s a detailed explanation of why supermarket brands are inferior.  

However, good quality food doesn’t need to cost you an arm, nor does it mean having a long list of fanciful ingredients. The items in the ingredients list are arranged in order of weight, so the first few ingredients, usually meat and carbohydrates, make up the bulk of the kibble.

In some brands, ingredients are ambiguous. Beware if the manufacturer uses terms like ‘Meat meal,’ ‘Animal fat,’ or ‘Poultry fat.’ Who knows what meat or animals they’ve used?

Secondly, although corn seems healthy, there’s a long controversy behind them. Not only because they are cheap but it’s also mostly genetically modified. I can’t go into them now, but manufacturers aren’t short of alternatives, and neither will you find yourself short of choices. 

As for BHT and BHA, they are preservatives that are linked to causing cancer. Common natural alternatives include Tocopherols (Vitamin E) or rosemary extract.

Don’t be fooled

Ingredients in the middle and end of the list make up only a tiny amount of the food. To know if the celery and spinach are merely dusting on a plate, identify where the animal fat is listed.

Can you see where ‘Poultry Fat’ is highlighted? Ingredients listed after that may only be in tiny quantities.



The reason is that kibbles are usually sprayed with a layer of animal fats to increase their palatability, listed in the first few ingredients. You surely don’t see kibbles dripping in fat, so the ingredients listed after that are like salt and pepper on your steak.

Action Steps:

  • Stay away from kibbles with the following ingredients:
    • Unspecified sources of ingredients e.g., Meat/poultry meal 
    • Chemical preservatives (BHA / BHT)
    • Corn 
    • Flavoring and coloring
  • If you see the brand at a supermarket, don’t buy it.
  • If it’s way cheaper than other brands, don’t buy it.


2. Fewer Ingredients Means Lesser Chance of Allergies

Harmless as some ingredients may seem, we have no idea what your pet is allergic to. Even though allergy tests will give you a good idea of the kind of food to stay away from, the results can be inconclusive.

That’s the reason why if your dog is suffering from allergies, a fail-safe, though tedious way, is to put your dog on an exclusion diet, where the dog is fed with only a few varieties of ingredients and slowly introduced to other ingredients to observe the body’s response to them.

Not everything good for us will benefit your pet.

We love to know that we’re feeding nutritious herbs, fruits and vegetables when choosing kibbles for our furry friends, but as mentioned earlier, they’re just not available in substantial quantities to provide any benefit.

Not only that, the additional ingredients may be the reason behind your pet’s allergies.

However, rarely do dogs have such severe allergies that they need to go through the hassles of an exclusion diet. Many dogs I’ve worked with can see improvements after changing to kibbles with limited ingredients.

Dog food with limited ingredients usually comprises a single meat protein, a few carbohydrate sources, and a few varieties of vegetables and will help reduce the odds of exposing your dogs to allergens (some brands have 10 – 20 different types of fruits and vegetables in their kibbles!).

If you see an improvement, you may add in some healthy, low-allergy-risk foods if you wish, adding in one new ingredient every week. Yogurt, kefir, and steamed or pureed leafy vegetables are great choices but beware of human food that’s toxic to dogs.

Action Steps:

  • Put your pet on a limited-ingredient diet first, which also means no treats :(
  • Add one new ingredient every week and observe if your dog’s skin acts up
  • If your dog seems to be allergic to a particular ingredient, remove it.


3. Every dog is different. Try until you succeed.

Although it’s common to see improvements on your first diet change, some dogs may require you to switch around a few brands.

Here are some more tips on how to do that:

Do your evaluation. Don’t depend on hearsay.

Don’t have a preconceived notion of certain ingredients if you haven’t done allergen tests. It doesn’t mean chicken is bad or your dog has to go grain-free. Who knows if your dog is allergic to potatoes instead? For example, my dog’s allergic to lamb and fish but not chicken. Besides, chicken formulas are still very popular with pet owners. 

It doesn’t mean that what people say will be bad, including me.

Price is not an indication of quality.

An iPhone is more expensive than most smartphones, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best. It depends on what the user needs and what they’re comfortable with.

It’s the same for dog food. Although prices can vary slightly, brands you can find in supermarkets will be much cheaper. On the other end of the spectrum, commercial raw diets are usually the most expensive because of the high meat content. Most premium kibble brands are priced in the middle.  

At the end of the day, it still depends on what your dog’s requirements are. If it’s sensitive to a high protein/high meat content diet, feeding your dog expensive high protein diets is only going to make matters worse.

Be willing to try everything.

Try until you succeed. Let your creativity flow, and trust yourself. After all, you’re spending the most time with your dog and trust yourself to evaluate if whatever you’re doing is working or not. Here are some options you can try:

  • Canned food
  • Home cooked food
  • Commercial raw diets
  • Home-prepared raw diets
  • Different protein, exotic protein if need be
  • Carbohydrates free (no sweet or starchy vegetables like potatoes, carrots, yam, etc.)
  • Go vegetarian if necessary.

If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Good luck!

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” – René Descartes



We are what we put into our mouths, and the same applies to your dog. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and our job is to give the body what it needs to heal.  Good quality food nurtures the body and will help to prevent illnesses by strengthening the immune system. 

However, most of the time, we don’t know what’s causing our dog’s allergies. So start with as little as possible and work up from there. The fruits and vegetables in dog food are usually in tiny quantities and may be the cause of your dog’s allergic reactions.

Finally, don’t give up just because changing one brand doesn’t help. I’ve helped many owners with their dog’s skin problems, and they’ve always been patient and strict with the program. Try until you see results.

Up Next

Now that you’ve learned about how to utilize diet change to improve your dog’s skin problem, we’ll look at some of the jargon used by pet food. I’d also give my recommendations on what you should look out for in the diet to increase your odds of solving your dog’s skin problems. 


P.S. If you find this article useful, remember to share!

Finally, there are too many dogs suffering from skin allergies, and more dog owners need to know about more natural and lasting alternatives to solving skin problems. You can help! On behalf of all the dogs in the world, Thank you!


Pet Grooming: Should I shave my dog if it has skin problems?

If your dog ever suffered from skin problems, you’d realize that sometimes it takes forever to cure. Even vets need to do some trial and error, and neither do they have any magic bullet that’ll stop the problem from resurfacing months later. This is because, as mentioned in my earlier post on chronic skin problems, skin problems can be caused by anything. As a result, not only is it torturing to the poor animals going through all that itch, it’s heartbreaking for us to see them this way and frustrating trying to find out the cause.

What seems right might not necessarily be

In our quest for a solution, we are often made to believe that shaving down the dog for the easy application of creams and observing the condition was a good idea. Although it may sound logical and a practice widely propagated by vets and groomers, just imagine for a moment you had a rash somewhere, and you ran a clipper across it. It’s the same as how scratching makes a rash worse or how shaving usually irritates our skin; clipping usually irritates the skin and if you were to shave the whole dog down, imagine the itch from their nose all the way to their tail!


And what would they do when they have that insatiable need to kill off that itch? They scratch, chew, and lick on the itch until the skin becomes red, raw, and wounded, But still, it itches, and scratching and chewing are the only ways they know how. So the vicious cycle continues until the point of self-mutilation, and we have no choice but to don the Elizabethan collar, also infamously known as the cone of shame on them.

Don’t cause unnecessary problems for yourself.

Even for dogs with perfectly normal skin, shaving too close sometimes causes redness and irritation, especially on sensitive areas like paws, throat, groin, anal region, and under the belly.

That’s why I don’t recommend customers to have their pets’ feet shaven bald for whatever reasons, be it because their pets lick their paws or because of the discolored paws from the licking. Usually, shaving only makes matters worse, and it’s more important to find the cause of the behavior rather than aggravate the problem.

If you really have to

However, if you insist that clipping is to be done, please instruct the groomer to leave at least a centimeter of their coat. During the grooming process, the shorter the cut, the smaller the blade would be used – the problem with that is the edge of the blade in contact with your pets’ skin would be sharper and heats up faster, two of the most common irritant during pet grooming.

Besides, the coat acts as a protective layer, and it’ll buffer the skin against any external irritants they’re being exposed to daily (e.g., chemicals, materials, heat, etc., which they’re allergic to). Furthermore, the coat also cushions the skin when the dog chews on or scratches itself. 


And since most vets prescribe shampoos instead of topical creams, the medication would have no problem working down to the skin.

Have questions on pet grooming? Write them down in the comments below, and I’ll be glad to answer them!