Why you should beware of hypoallergenic diets and Metacam
I’ve probably heard this a million times: “My dog licks his paws and feet and he was fed a hypoallergenic diet.” This takes me back over 15 years ago, when I also thought that licking paws was a sign of allergies, because this is what I was taught.
The problem is that when paw lickers are treated as such, the problem usually does not improve and many dogs begin to show serious signs of deficiencies because they are fed a hypoallergenic, mono-diet of highly processed and denatured foods.
For example, here are the ingredients of Hill’s Hypoallergenic Diet:
Starch, hydrolyzed chicken liver, soybean oil (preserved with BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid), hydrolyzed chicken, cellulose powder, lactic acid, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, glyceryl monostearate, potassium chloride, iodized salt, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), DL-Methionine, minerals (iron sulphate, zinc oxide, copper sulphate, manganese oxide , calcium iodate, sodium selenite), taurine, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid, rosemary extract, beta-carotene.
Don’t you wonder why starch is the first ingredient and hydrolyzed chicken liver is the second? Anyone with a basic knowledge of nutrition knows that starch is one of the most important factors in obesity and diabetes. Research also shows a link between a high-carb diet and the occurrence of cancer. When it comes to the liver, it is common knowledge that chickens are fed large amounts of antibiotics and hormones. Chicken livers are the last thing I would give to my dog because the liver is a detoxification organ that accumulates toxins in the highest concentration.
BHA is another ingredient that scares me. It is a known carcinogen that should have been banned from pet food a long time ago, and when it comes to soybean oil, this has been the case since 2009. 91% of all soybeans produced are GMO. I could go through the ingredient list a little longer, but that would be too depressing. Clearly, there’s enough wrong with the formula to stay away from it, unless you’d like to fall for the rosemary extract and beta-carotene at the end of the list, which should make you feel good about feeding this toxic concoction, called a hypoallergenic diet.
Most dogs on an allergy diet do not have allergies
The biggest paradox is that the majority of dogs fed this food don’t even have allergies and this is what I would like to share with you today.
There is a small percentage of dogs that lick their paws due to obsessive nervous licking, long nails, contact with a chemical agent and secondary bacterial infection due to skin trauma caused by licking.
But what I’ve discovered over the years is that the majority of dogs lick their paws because they have abnormal sensation in their feet. If you have ever had a neck injury or pain in the neck (physical), you may also have experienced tingling or a tingling sensation in your hands.
Dogs regularly suffer from neck injuries caused by collars because they pull on the leash, and people use harmful choke chains, prong or shock collars. It may come as a surprise to you, but even the regular extension leash that snakes up can cause serious neck injuries, especially when a dog runs and hits the end.
Neck and back injuries cause muscle tightness, which affects nerve supply to certain parts of the body. Here are a few examples:
licking forelimbs is often caused by a neck injury
lick forearm is caused by tension between the shoulder blades. (often caused by a fall, neck trauma, excessive digging or swimming)
licking hind legs can be caused by tightness in the region of the lumbar spine.
Here are a few steps to follow if your dog licks his or her feet:
If your dog licks its hind legs, prevent them from sprinting, jumping up, jumping into the water or intensely retrieving the ball for at least a month and continuously reduce this activity.
Chiropractic, physio or osteopathic examination is highly recommended to assess and treat your dog’s neck injury and muscle inflammation.
Ideal, don’t play tug of war or if you do, let the rope or leash slide gently through your hand and be sure not to lift your dog into the air as you pull.
If your dog has suffered a more serious neck injury, consult your veterinarian for further evaluation. Remember that most veterinarians are not as trained in assessing the musculoskeletal system as chiros, physios or osteopaths.
- Never use harmful anti-inflammatory drugs as Metacam, which causes serious side effects such as stomach ulcers, blood clotting disorders and kidney damage. I recommend Zyflamend as a healthy alternative that I have been using for many years on many dogs with great results and no evidence of side effects.
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© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM