If you’ve tried pills, creams and potions to no avail, maybe it’s time to try a vegan diet for itchy dogs. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds, and switching to a plant-based diet has already been a successful solution for many different dogs.
Being itchy is deeply uncomfortable and if there’s an itch that just won’t go away, it can be unbearable.
Dog parents who have watched their pets scratch themselves sore will know only too well what misery unexplained itches and scratching can bring.
Of course, switching your dog’s diet so radically is a big move, and one that requires careful consideration. But, moving to a vegan diet for itchy dogs is a change that an increasing number of educated pet owners are making, primarily to improve their pet’s health but also to take better care of the planet too.
We’ve taken a closer look at the subject of plant-based dog food, and what the science says about the potential benefits.
Will a Vegan Diet for Itchy Dogs Work?
Let’s first deal with the elephant in the room – or rather the wolf in the room. Dogs are not the same as wolves, and their digestive systems have evolved to be completely different.
In recent years there’s been a trend towards the so-called wolf diet which includes high levels of protein and raw meat. While the intentions are good, this approach could exacerbate the problems and make your dog even more itchy!
Dogs have developed a digestive system which is akin to an omnivore, with longer intestines and enzymes which are capable of breaking down starchy food. They’re no longer the same carnivores as their wolf ancestors, and meat simply isn’t purely essential for their wellbeing any longer.
It’s entirely possible for dogs to have their complete nutritional needs met by a plant food diet, but the question is will a vegan diet for itchy dogs work in helping them to feel less itchy?
Inflammation is often the cause of itching and discomfort, or it could be allergies and intolerances to food.
Plants are naturally anti-inflammatory, scoring very high on the Dietary Inflammatory Index. If inflammation is triggering itchiness in your dog, swapping out animal proteins for plants will be all your dog needs.
Animal proteins are often an allergen or intolerance for dogs, and we’re going to look at that next.
Common Food Allergens in Dogs
The landscape on allergies is more complicated as there are many ingredients your dog could be allergic or intolerant to. However, a major study has found that canines are far more likely to be allergic to animal proteins than plant ingredients.
The most common ingredients which triggered an allergic response in dogs included beef, dairy and chicken. Other animal proteins which were noted to cause problems included lamb, pork, eggs, and fish. Some dogs were allergic to wheat and corn, but only a very tiny number compared to the numbers who reacted to animal proteins.
It’s therefore worth pointing out that not all types of vegan dog food will be suitable for every canine. However, plant-based foods can include different proteins and ingredients so it’s possible to try alternatives until you find one that suits your pooch.
Some owners switch to grain-free food as there’s a misconception that grains can cause itchiness and discomfort in dogs. The truth is that there are very, very few dogs who are allergic to all grains.
Even if a dog has a grain-based allergy – which is already quite an unusual occurrence – the chances are that they won’t be allergic to all types of grain. There are many different types of vegan dog food so even if your dog is one of the few that’s allergic to one type of grain, it’s easy to find alternative without resorting to meat.
Can Dogs be Wheat and Gluten Intolerant?
Wheat and gluten intolerance can cause serious problems when present, but in many cases, it’s other ingredients which are causing the reaction. Cutting out wheat and gluten may mean that you inadvertently also cut out the other ingredient that’s triggering the reaction, and reach the conclusion that wheat and gluten is to blame.
It’s true that some dogs will be intolerant or allergic to wheat and gluten but the numbers are very small in contrast to other allergens. Only 10% of allergies in dogs are due to food, and only a tiny number of those will be due to gluten or wheat.
There are a few breeds which are more likely to experience a wheat or gluten intolerance, such as Irish setters. Lots of the cases of wheat and gluten intolerance are found in these very select breeds, which means there are even fewer cases in the wider canine population.
Animal proteins are far more likely to trigger an allergic reaction, whereas a vegan diet for itchy dogs can help in solving and reversing the health problems caused.
Might a Vegan Diet Help My Dog’s Constant Ear Infections?
Allergies can trigger lots of unpleasant signs and symptoms in a dog, but skin complaints are some of the most common. These can occur all over the body, in accessible areas such as the paws but also in harder to reach places such as the ears.
In fact, the skin on the ears is particularly susceptible to allergies, and also an overgrowth of yeast. As your dog scratches his ear to ease the discomfort, the delicate skin can easily suffer micro tears which can lead to infections.
The link between diet and infections may not seem obvious but there are many ways in which a vegan diet for itchy dogs might help.
The first is to do with allergens and food intolerances. There are many animal proteins and byproducts which go into meat-based food and it’s sometimes not easy to determine exactly which one is causing the problem.
In contrast, vegan pet food uses fewer, high-quality ingredients so you’ll always know exactly what your dog is eating. By switching to a vegan diet for itchy dogs your canine won’t have to process the many irritants which are found in meat diets, and this may be all it takes to resolve ear infections.
Even if your dog doesn’t have an allergy or a food intolerance, a plant food diet may still resolve ear infections or general itchiness. This is because plants are highly anti-inflammatory, and this will improve your dog’s general health and well-being. Inflammation can cause all sorts of problems and can cause your dog to scratch at their ear.
By reducing inflammation your dog may feel less itchy overall, and less inclined to scratch – leading to fewer incidences of infection.
A vegan diet for itchy dogs can benefit all canines – take a look at some of our other articles to read more about how plant-based foods can help.