Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes
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  1. #1
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    Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    My dog is a Shih-Tzu, he is roughly 3 years old. He scratches constantly and licks/bites all over to scratch himself (he licks his paws alot) he rubs his eyes on the ground or on furniture/the wall or whatever else is easy for him to access. He has been like this for a while and I have tried a few things to help him. He gets 1 bath a week and does not have fleas or any other noticeable parasites. I am starting to think he is allergic to his food which is this

    http://www.pedigree.com/really-good-...-for-dogs.aspx

    Please tell me what you think it could be and if it is the food please recommend a more proper dog food (as reasonably priced as possible)

    Thanks for any help.

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    Member musapan's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    It definitely sounds like an allergy of some kind. And I'll be perfectly honest with you... Pedigree is one of the worst out there. I would suggest a food higher in protein and absolutely no grains or fillers, like Acana or Wellness CORE. They're going to be more expensive, but trust me, you're going to pay a lot less in vet bills. Also, your dog will eat so much less of a higher protein diet, it will make up the difference.

    Firstly and fore mostly, though, take your dog to the vet. Only a vet can tell you what's really going on, or what your dog might be allergic to.
    Keep us posted! :3

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    Senior Member zhaor's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    It's very possible that he's allergic to pedigree. It's awful awful food. A lot of dogs are allergic to corn which is the primary ingredient in pedigree.

    You can browse the food section of the forum for some ideas about food and/or look at sites like dogfoodadvisor.com. What you want to look for mainly is no corn, named meat products like "chicken meal" instead of "meat and bone meal" or "chicken fat" instead of "animal fat", and you want to avoid certain preservatives and chemicals and ethoxyquin, BHA, propylene glycol, etc. Then it's preferable that you feed a grain free and high meat content food since dogs aren't meant to eat grain and should primarily be eating meat, but high meat content and grain free are both things that are found in more expensive food.

    Obviously better food costs more so the recommendation really depends on your budget. If you have access to a costco, their kirkland brand food is good for the price but a 40lb bag is a bit large for a shih-tzu. Since smaller dogs eat less, it's ideal to not buy overly large bags because the food can spoil, but it also means you don't need to spend as much on food so you may be able to afford better food. Another relatively low cost good food is 4health which is available at Tractor Supply Co and you can get those in smaller bags. Other than that, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul I think is relatively cheap too.

    Going a bit better than that and looking into grain free foods, costco actually has a grain free food but again i think it's only in large bags. Taste of the Wild is fairly cost efficient. Earthborn i believe isn't too much more expensive but has higher meat content. On the more expensive side you have foods like Evo, and Orijen.

    Better than kibble you can go into dehydrated raw foods and good quality canned foods and commercial frozen raw foods.

    You can look into raw which takes a bit of research to make sure you prepare a balanced diet but is arguably the best diet and a home prepared raw is probably comparable in price to higher quality kibble or even cheaper depending on prices at your local butcher and grocery stores and what not.

    For the itching, there is also the possibility that he's allergic to grass pollen though that tends to be on the underside of the dog from lying in grass and seems to present with a mild rash. 1mg of Benadyl per lb of dog could clear that up but it doesn't sound like the issue with your pup. Frequent bathing (once a week is pretty frequent) can also cause them to have dry skin which can be itchy. So it's nice to use a fairly gentle doggy shampoo like an oatmeal shampoo and try to rinse the shampoo off completely.

    In any case I would still definitely switch off pedigree, it's just very awful food.

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Would this be ok?
    Pet Botanics Healthy Omega Gourmet Dog Food
    http://cardinalpet.com/petbotanics/p...od/chicken.jpg

    or this? But it says fruits and veggies
    AvoDerm Natural Small Breed Puppy Chicken Formula Dry Food
    http://theorganicdogfoodstore.com/wp...Store_1549.jpg

    or this? It says "healthy skin" but there is no way a veggie only diet can be good for a dog correct?
    Nature's RecipeŽ Healthy Skin Vegetarian Natural Dog Food
    http://petbest.s3.amazonaws.com/imag...DryDogFood.png

    If none of these are good can someone try to find something specific on Petsmart's website for me? Try to find something 10$ for 4.5 pounds but if I really need to 10$ for 3.5 pounds would not be the end of the world, though money is pretty tight (moving soon)

    Sorry links to them on petsmart will not work. You can search them on www.petsmart.com if you want
    Last edited by rolltide101x; 08-27-2012 at 04:25 AM.

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Also what is a good shampoo to use on a dog once a week? There are lots of "oatmeal" shampoos for dogs. Which would be the best reasonably priced one?

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    Senior Member zhaor's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Out of the 3 you posted, I would definitely go with the AvoDerm. The Pet Botanics looks to be a pouched food which is worse than kibble. The vegetarian is just no, dogs are carnivores for the most part.

    The AvoDerm is actually not bad. One thing to note about AvoDerm is that avocados have been said to be "toxic" to dogs and said to cause diarrhea. Mostly people say it's the skin and pit, whereas the meat itself is healthy and good for the dog's skin and coat because of the oils. However AvoDerm uses "Avocado Meal" which in all likelihood probably contains skin and pit so it could be a concern. Honestly though the amount of avocados in AvoDerm is probably inconsequential considering how far down the ingredient list they show up.

    I only looked at the somewhat "top brands" that petsmart has like blue buffalo and wellness but those seem to be outside your price range from petsmart. If you're curious about other brands, really you can just find a brand and go down the list at http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/brand/ to see what they would rate it out of 5 stars to get a general idea.

    As for shampoo, you'd probably be better off asking in the grooming section. There are some professional groomers that post there who would be more knowledgeable.

    Also you really should look into a home made raw diet. Kibble gets more expensive with smaller bags where as with raw the individual ingredients don't really get more expensive. And it really isn't that much more work than kibble once you've done the initial research to make sure you're preparing a balanced diet. A well balanced raw diet is pretty much the best thing to feed.
    Last edited by zhaor; 08-27-2012 at 06:46 AM.

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    Senior Member georgiapeach's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    I would definitely get away from Pedigree - it's mostly corn, which dogs don't get any nutrition from, and to which many dogs are allergic. I'd try a grain free food, the best your budget can afford. At the least, choose a food with no corn, wheat, or soy (common allergens in dogs). Since your dog is a small one, even an expensive kibble will last a long time. You'll feed less of a good food, b/c it actually gets digested, rather than passing right on through. For example, I only feed my small minipoo and terrier mix (each 12.5 lb.) 1/2 c. a day; 1/3 of a cup at the most. Even a small bag lasts a good while for the two of them. Whatever you get, transition slowly (over 1-2 weeks) to avoid tummy upset. As a point of reference, in Petsmart, the best foods are on one side of the store (usually the aisle starts with Blue Buffalo or Wellness Core), and they work their way across the store to the rot gut foods, like Pedigree, Alpo, etc..

    Maddie is my allergy dog. I find that a shampoo with tea tree oil in it is helpful. I just got the Petsmart brand b/c it's cheaper. Bathe weekly. Try working the shampoo into all nooks and crannies (neck, arm pits and between pads/toes especially), and let it sit on the dog for 5-10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

    You can also give your dog benadryl to help ease the itching a little (1 mg./pound) 2-3 times daily. I give Maddie 1/2 a tablet twice daily, and I get the generic at Walmart to save money. I bought a cheap pill cutter to cut them in half.

    Hopefully, the change in food and regular, soothing baths will help - good luck!
    Beth, mom to Maddie (westie/maltese mix?) and Nash (morkie?)

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    So if it was your dog would you feed it the " AvoDerm" food? Would this likely not have what is causing his allergies? (I know you cant say for a 100% fact)

    According to this "AvoDerm" is apparently pretty good. They also said that they believe the fear of Avocado is "unjustified"
    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-fo...-dog-food-dry/
    Last edited by rolltide101x; 08-27-2012 at 01:44 PM.

  10. #9
    Senior Member zhaor's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Well if you ask around here people have various opinions on what they are willing to feed their dog. I feed ToTW which is grain free, fairly affordable, and has fairly good ingredients. However it's made by Diamond which has an iffy track record of sanitary issues. There are people here who would avoid anything made by Diamond and are willing to spend slightly more to do so.

    The avoderm doesn't contain corn so it's a good start. Corn is one of the most common high allergenic thing for dogs. Some dogs might be sensitive to grain as well and dog's digestive tracks aren't really fit for processing grain which is why grain free foods are more preferable. Avoderm is a grain based food.

    My dog's 35lbs so I get the 15lb bags of ToTW which at most costs $30 for me. So your "$/lb" is higher than what I'm paying. However with smaller bags of food, $/lb goes up. It's why I was thinking raw may be a better deal for you.

    Knowledgeable people will pretty much all agree that a well balanced raw diet is one of the best things you can feed your dog and better than any kibble. I'm looking into switching over to raw in a couple weeks because of some health issues with my dog.

    Not sure if you have other stores near you but you can also look into ordering food online. You might be able to find the better foods in your price range and foods that petsmart don't carry, like Earthborn, Acana, etc.
    Last edited by zhaor; 08-27-2012 at 04:18 PM.

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    If it was not for my other dogs (with no health issues) then I would consider raw more but (for now) I think I am going to buy Avoderm and if I do not see an improvement in him I will probably try a more expensive brand. I do not want him to suffer anymore =/

    How long do you think it would take for me to see if switching dog food brands is working? 3 weeks? 4 weeks? longer? Less?

    The best way to move him over is to add like 4 parts Pedigree to 1 part Avoderm for a couple of days then 3 parts Pedigree to 2 Parts Avoderm for a couple. Then 2 to 3? Or is this to fast?

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    Senior Member WestieLove's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    I'm sorry but while its possible to have allergies to grains, commonly food allergies are to the protein source in the food ie) chicken, beef etc. If you are going to switch him foods, try a different protein source that he has never had before and make sure its a food with a limited protein source. There are some foods recommended here that have multiple different protein sources which is going to make matters difficult but try finding something with just one. If you wish to go grain free that is your business but its more likely your dog is allergic to the protein source (chicken) then he is the corn or wheat in that food. You can go grain free with an alternative protein source.

    Has he been seen by a veterinarian for this problem? Are the allergies worse in one particular season then another (improving in cold weather)?

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Quote Originally Posted by WestieLove View Post
    I'm sorry but while its possible to have allergies to grains, commonly food allergies are to the protein source in the food ie) chicken, beef etc. If you are going to switch him foods, try a different protein source that he has never had before and make sure its a food with a limited protein source. There are some foods recommended here that have multiple different protein sources which is going to make matters difficult but try finding something with just one. If you wish to go grain free that is your business but its more likely your dog is allergic to the protein source (chicken) then he is the corn or wheat in that food. You can go grain free with an alternative protein source.

    Has he been seen by a veterinarian for this problem? Are the allergies worse in one particular season then another (improving in cold weather)?
    He has not had this issue for long enough for me to know and no he has not, I was hoping to solve it myself and avoid paying the money for a vet (for now) But if I can not solve it within a limited time I am going to take him to the vet.

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    AvoDerm Natural Original Oven-Baked Small Bites Dog Food

    What about that? It is beef flavored.

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    How about Avoderm grain free Salmon meal and Potatoes? This is what I would try first. Fish oil is great for their skin and coat.

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-fo...al-grain-free/
    Last edited by Abbylynn; 08-27-2012 at 06:56 PM.


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    Senior Member zhaor's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Chicken meal is probably the most common meat product in pet food and is what I've heard the most claims about sensitivity to a specific meat. To me it seems like meat sensitivities tend to present with diarrhea rather than skin issues. It might be more common than grain allergies cause it seems grain allergies are fairly uncommon, dog's just can't process grains very well. I don't think it's more likely that the dog is allergic to a type of meat than corn. Corn seems to be a fairly common cause for skin issues.

    In anycase, even if the dog might be reacting to a certain meat, there's no way of knowing what that is with pedigree.

    Chicken meal is the cheapest named meat source and is in most dog foods. Generally when you go to away from chicken, the food will either be more expensive or less nutritional or both. Like the beef flavored one, the first ingredient is flour and not meat. It's also lower on protein so the general meat content is probably quite a bit lower than the chicken one. The salmon grain free avoderm looks to be primarily pea protein rather than actual fish.

    Omega-3 fish oil does help with skin and coat. Personally I don't really by into fish flavored dry foods. I could be wrong but I believe they separate most of the fat and oils from the meat during the rendering process for meat meals. I'd rather just add fish oil to the dog's food. The salmon one is higher in omega 3 than the others though
    Last edited by zhaor; 08-27-2012 at 08:03 PM.

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Avoderm grain free Salmon meal and Potatoes

    I bought this, it eliminates most every possibility. Thanks!

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    Senior Member WestieLove's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Quote Originally Posted by zhaor View Post
    Chicken meal is probably the most common meat product in pet food and is what I've heard the most claims about sensitivity to a specific meat. To me it seems like meat sensitivities tend to present with diarrhea rather than skin issues. It might be more common than grain allergies cause it seems grain allergies are fairly uncommon, dog's just can't process grains very well. I don't think it's more likely that the dog is allergic to a type of meat than corn. Corn seems to be a fairly common cause for skin issues.

    In anycase, even if the dog might be reacting to a certain meat, there's no way of knowing what that is with pedigree.

    Chicken meal is the cheapest named meat source and is in most dog foods. Generally when you go to away from chicken, the food will either be more expensive or less nutritional or both. Like the beef flavored one, the first ingredient is flour and not meat. It's also lower on protein so the general meat content is probably quite a bit lower than the chicken one. The salmon grain free avoderm looks to be primarily pea protein rather than actual fish.

    Omega-3 fish oil does help with skin and coat. Personally I don't really by into fish flavored dry foods. I could be wrong but I believe they separate most of the fat and oils from the meat during the rendering process for meat meals. I'd rather just add fish oil to the dog's food. The salmon one is higher in omega 3 than the others though
    The most common allergies are normally to chicken, beef, dairy and I have seen wheat. I have not seen soy or corn pop up in my clinical experience so far. The majority of allergies I do see are also more often environmental then food related. Avoid beef, chicken, lamb (too commonly used) and duck (since duck is too similar to chicken) I would immediatly cross those out when looking for a new food. There can be allergies to other ingredients ie. potato, egg etc. but I'm listing the most common allergy causes to avoid if your looking for a different dog food. If changing the protein source is not successful (and do a proper elimination diet where you feed only that dog food, no treats, no other foods, no flavored anything for the dog) then you will want to look into testing.

    Food allergies and food intolerance are different. An allergy is involving the immune system, the body mistakes an ingredient in the food (commonly a protein) as harmful and creates a defence against it and if its to food then it will present as the skin issues. This is why certain comanies make a hydrolized protein diet for severe allergy cases. The protein source of the food is broken down to the point its unable to be recognized as harmful by the body. A food intolerance or sensitivity is a digestive response vs. an immune response and you can certainly just avoid that ingredient and problem solved.

    From the signs the OP is describing if a diet change is not the solution then I would start speaking to a veterinarian regarding other types of allergies. If you are going to do a food trial with that particular food then you must NOT give Treats rawhides, pigs ears, cow hooves, antlers, flavored medications or supplements, flavored toothpastes, any type of treats or food other then the kibble etc. I would also recommend keeping the dog on a monthly topical flea prevention such as Advantage or Revolution, you don't have to see fleas to have a flea allergy because it only takes one flea bite.
    Last edited by WestieLove; 08-27-2012 at 11:18 PM.

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    For shampoo- Microtek Anti itch shampoo. Available online if you can't find it in stores. Fantastic shampoo. Especially for skin issues.
    Spay or neuter your pet! Founding President Of Thread Killers Anonymous.

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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    I've spent the past several months puzzling over an itchy dog as well.

    Someone else might have said this already but I'll repeat it just in case: when trying to determine a food allergy, you've got to completely restrict the dog's access to whatever ingredient you're cutting out. Switching foods is only one part of this, you've also got to check out the ingredients of every treat and chewable that he gets. And it will take at least 3-4 weeks to be certain, from what I've been told. All of this can make it kind of difficult. Back in the spring I was trying to figure out if Mumble was allergic to chicken, and I had to start over a few times because someone would give him something with chicken in it (one house guest pulled the skin off his fried chicken and fed Mumble from the table! I was so mad! There were just so many things wrong with that).

    Also, oatmeal shampoos seem like a good idea, but they can actually have the opposite effect, as oatmeal sucks the moisture out of their skin, and dry skin = itchy skin.

    Mumble! Born 1/14/11

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    Senior Member zhaor's Avatar
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    Re: Dog scratching constantly and rubbing his eyes

    Quote Originally Posted by WestieLove View Post
    I have not seen soy or corn pop up in my clinical experience so far.
    Clinical experience.....are you a veterinarian? It always nice to have vets around. I certainly don't expect to see a lot of people taking their dog to the vet for a corn allergy since it's usually the first thing people move away from when they think their dog has an food allergy. Also environmental allergies tends show up as mild rashes no? It's a much more clear sign to take a dog to the vet than just scratching. Unless you're talking about a well conducted clinical study, looking purely at what animals get taken to the vet can certainly present a slightly skewed data.

    And yes I know the difference between intolerance and allergy, hence why I used the term "sensitivity" rather than allergy. A lot of people lump everything in as "allergy" so I had just assumed you were lumping things together.

    In the end you may very well be right and I'm wrong. I'm not a veterinarian after all, although it was a vet that originally suggested to me to try looking into better dog foods and avoid corn when I first got my dog and he had what appeared to be a grass pollen allergy. Whatever it was, it hasn't ever shown up again after I switched away from the hills that the shelter gave me.

    OP has purchased a food to try so I wish them good luck and I hope that helps clear up the itching.

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