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Canine Food Allergies, and Medication Sensitivities, Australian Labradoodles and Labradoodles

Skin issues, my dog is itching and/or has a rash, my vet suggests food allergy….

First, I am going to be honest, your dog is probably not allergic to food, actual symptom resulting food allergies are estimated at about 1 percent in all dogs, and in this mix of breeds it is lower than the average.  Food allergy is a catch-all for, we don’t know but let’s guess and start here.  Itchy skin, chewing feet, and/or a spot rash can be many things and most likely not an actual allergy to food.

What is it?

The culprit is often one or a combination of a bad diet, environmental factors, stress, medical treatments, or heredity.  I will go through each of these and my suggestion is to cover all of them and then after a month reassess the condition.  Please, IF the dog get worst during the month or does not get better, please go back to your vet.

Bad Diet (2 things)

I am not in any way suggesting food allergies (actually sensitivities).  I am telling you if you feed your human child potato chips and ice cream for a year they will not be healthy and it will show in their behavior as well as physically.  This does not mean they are allergic to these things, it means if crap goes in, crap results, and fighting off other crap is difficult.  So, unless you want to feed a raw food diet (which is a whole different article) the first thing to do is switch to a grain free, quality protein food.  Low quality protein requires the kidneys to remove more wastes. which makes the kidneys work harder.  Egg and actual meat contain higher quality protein; cereal grain protein is a low quality protein. Protein is used by the body to repair cells and tissues that are continually regenerating. By feeding a low quantity, but high quality protein diet that contains an appropriate amount of fats and carbs, the pet’s body can use the protein for replacing the cells and tissues and use the fat and carbohydrates for energy. Dogs should rarely eat grain and this includes treats, however just feeding them meat is not good either, it is a balance.  Dogs need a full balance of nutritional based protein, vitamins and minerals.  We feed Wellness Core Grain Free Chicken or Salmon and grain free treats, I would consult the Whole Dog Journal for a good choice.  We also feed freeze dried raw, specifically Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Chicken and Turkey.  If you are already feeding grain free and think your dogs has sensitivities to chicken or beef, I suggest you switch to a fish based variety, not because I am suggesting they are sensitive to chicken, because fish oil will aid in healthy skin.  Yes, good food is a more expensive food, but I will tell you over their life time, a good food is the cheapest life.  Vets costs are high, and can be overwhelming, feeding a poor or fair food is the best way to increase your vet costs over the life time of your dog.  This is one place not to cut costs. Second, I would add coconut oil daily.  This is purchased as a solid oil (human grade) at the grocery.  Feed them daily a small amount, just a quarter teaspoon a day then over the month gradually increase to at the MOST a teaspoon per 10 lbs. of dog.  Do NOT over feed coconut oil, just this amount is optimal, too much can cause digestion problems. This is a natural antibacterial agent.  They will like it and eat it like a treat.  I just have a small spoon next to the oil and scoop out what I need daily.

Environmental Factors

Dogs get contact dermatitis just like humans and I must say this is a common issue.  This could be from anything including the laundry detergent you use to clean their bed, floor cleaners, weed spray, and even some dog shampoo (or using human shampoo for your dog). You need to look at all you use and convert to allergy friendly items. I find Tide brand detergent is an issue, and harsh cleaners, most have allergy friendly alternatives.  In addition, other environmental issues like fleas, yeast, dust mites, pollens, and molds can all lead to skin reactions.  For fleas, a topical flea medication is fine monthly (Revolution, Activyl, the new frontline formula among others), NEVER use an internal flea or tick medication (this is a pill or chew for fleas and/or ticks). I will go over this in the medication section as well.  However, if you are using anything like Triflexis, Comfortis, Nexgard, Bravecto, Combogard, STOP immediately.  Check to see if anyone has sprayed the yard for weeds or treated anything the dog has come into contact.  Any of these items could be factors.  Most often I see dogs with a small local skin rash and once switched to the vet prescribed food get better, my guess is whatever they touched is gone, so this is why the rash is gone, not because of accommodating a food allergy.


Believe it or not you don’t bite your nails because you are allergic to food.  You probably bite your nails because you are stressed, anxious or just plain bored.   If you dog is chewing their feet or found a spot they just won’t leave alone they might just be bored.  Get them some items to play with, really play with, when you are gone. Chew toys and puzzles are good choices.  On the flip side are you stressed?  Because, your dog will follow your lead and if you are stressed and anxious they pick that up and symptoms result.  Relax.  Make sure you are the leader. Having to be in control is stressful for a dog, very stressful.  They need to know you are the pack leader and they just need to relax and follow your lead.  There is doggie relaxation music available.  We suggest, but there are others.

Medical treatments

Look back on what you have given your dog lately.  Any medication or vaccine can be an issue.  Some dogs need to take Benadryl before vaccines due to allergies to the binding agents in these treatments.  Never over vaccinate your dog, use titer testing instead.  I have done titers testing on my dogs and I have to say never had to give more than one rabies vaccine to each.  After 15 years the first dog I started doing titers on still shows 100% coverage for rabies.  NEVER use an internal pesticide (pill or chew for fleas and/or ticks).  These include but are not limited to Triflexis, Nexgard, Bravecto, Comfortis, Combogard and many more names.  Also avoid Seresto collars (prone to cause seizures).  They are in general a pesticide in pill form you give your dog monthly to stop fleas or ticks.  I am sorry to say, in my opinion, this will kill your dog.  Australian Labradoodles (among other breeds) are highly sensitive to these toxins.  In this breed these will cause, in my opinion, vomiting, lethargy, canine renal failure, oral melanoma, canine heart failure, canine liver failure, canine acute kidney disease, canine elevated ALT liver enzymes,  canine chronic kidney disease and other various issues and cancers.  It may be a day, month or years but this will cause skin irritations, skin tumors, and destroy their kidneys, liver, and heart.  Please if you ignore all else I suggest, stop using these immediately.  Something for heartworms is fine, for example Heartguard or Interceptor or Revolution in the summer.  As for fleas and ticks, if needed, I suggest only Revolution monthly in the summer (you don’t need heartworm medications while using Revolution) and then just heartworm (Heartguard or Interceptor) medications in the winter, if in southern areas where heartworm is a concern).  Revolution is topical and is put on the back of their neck during flea and tick season.  This is a safe, effective and less costly protocol.


I would never breed a dog with persistent skin issues or known problems.  Some breeds are prone to various skin issues.  I would talk to your breeder or study the breed to see if there is some common factor that may be the cause and suggested holistic treatments.  In general, if the breeder follows careful screening in selecting the parents of your dog this is not an issue.

If after going down this check list considering diet, environmental factors, stress, medical treatments, and heredity after a month you still see the issue go back to your vet.  I am telling you 99 times out of 100 this will cover the problem.  IF you need to go back at your vet, ask for a full senior blood screening, including thyroid.  This is the cheapest full panel (typically for senior dogs but really who cares) and should identify an issue.  IF you do decide to do allergy testing please note that the cheaper tests are not at all reliable.  Go for the gold standard or don’t waste your money.

Please note, I am not a vet.  I am a dog owner and Australian Labradoodle breeder (17 years) and a professor of architecture.  I added the professor part only to note that I am someone who studies and does research (on everything).  Please research for yourself.

A reliable canine allergy/ sensitivity test to date is  If you would like to try natural alternatives I find this helpful


Chagas Disease, a paracitic infection in Dogs

Chagas disease is an illness caused by a parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.  Once the parasite bites your dog it multiplies and eventually reaches the blood circulation, spreading to various organs but mainly the brain and heart.

Chagas disease is endemic in South and Central America, but it is also found in the United States, typically in in all southern states, most noted in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, California, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland.

Symptoms and Types

Two forms of Chagas disease in dogs: acute and chronic. Some dogs enter an extended asymptomatic stage (where no symptoms develop), which can last for years. During that time, there is a progressive and insidious development of the parasite, leading to the degeneration and inflammation of the heart, which can eventually cause heart failure and death.

Acute (typically dogs younger than 2)




Exercise intolerance

Walking difficulties

Rapid body jerks, seizures

Swollen lymph nodes

Increased heart rate (tachycardia)

Congestive heart failure (left and right-sided)

Chronic (typically older dogs)



Exercise intolerance

Increased heart rate (tachycardia)


With a detailed history your vet will then perform a complete physical examination as well as order a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, serology and an electrolyte panel — all of which may demonstrate results common with parasitic infections.

X-Rays may indicate heart and pulmonary diseases, while an echocardiogram may show chamber or wall abnormalities. For example, atrioventricular block and right bundle branch block are seen in dogs with acute forms of the disease, whereas ventricular arrhythmias (which can then degenerate into various forms of ventricular tachycardia) are associated with chronic Chagas disease.


Although several drugs have shown somewhat limited improvement in dogs during the acute stage, none produce a “cure.” Unfortunately, even those that get treatment may progress to the chronic form of the disease.

Dogs with Chagas disease and sudden heart complication have a guarded prognosis, while those with chronic forms of the disease typically have a more dismal outcome.

Remember, we are simply attempting to get information out to dog owners, we are not stating we are experts in Chagas Disease but simply passing on information we determine is appropriate for those who own our dogs.  I also found the following:

FDA warning on Chicken jerky treats from China

I would just ike to pass on the warning from the FDA on Chicken jerky treats from China.  I realize we all, on occasion, purchase treats from various stores and think it is obviously safe given it is being sold.  That does not seem to be the case here given this warning has been going on since 2007 with the latest in 2012.

Consumers have largely blamed two brands for the reported illnesses. Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, both produced by Nestle Purina and made in China


ABC News

Animal Health foundation

Mixed breed versus purebred

I have to say I realize the Labradoodle and Australian Labradoodle are not considered Breeds by the definition of Breeds used by the AKC.  Technically they are mixed breeds. One of the reasons I focused on the Australian Labradoodle starting in 2001 is the work of the “breed” as the family.  I generally consider their “work” as service dog or family companion.  To do this work, in my opinion, they need to be able to reflect the family profile.  If the family is active they need to respond to change and an active lifestyle.  If the family is retired and lives at a slow pace, the dog should respond.  If there is an adult or child in need of a service or therapy dog the line of dogs needs to be able to control themselves at a young age, thus able to work within the first year of their lives. This is what the Australian Labradoodle, again in my opinion, is able to do IF bred correctly with careful selection of the parent dogs, selective temperament, coat, health and yes conformation.  Many Labradoodles and even Australian Labradoodles are not breed for this work, but bred just to sell their puppies and sad to say just like any other breed these dogs do not suit their work.  Currently we as breeders have the responsibility many purebred breeds had decades ago.  Keeping health and temperament as a priority to maintain the breed for the work the dog was designed for.  Yes all pure bred dogs were designed at some time.  Breeders selected the traits they liked and bred only those dogs with these traits and eventually the dogs became distinct separate breeds.  For example all originating from the same hunting and water dog lines the Lagotto Romagnolo is now suited for land work hunting truffles, the Portuguese Water Dog was designed through selecting generations of dogs with intense stamina for long distance and ocean water retrieval capabilities.  And  one other is the Poodle also a water retriever but selected for much shorter distances in lake and pond swimming plus they spent more time indoors with the family.  Each of these dog breeds were designed by the breeders by selecting for specific traits that suited the work to be done.  Now today they look fairly similar but their personalities are different and those distinct personalities are ideal for their work.

Thought the years the AKC has focused on conformation and the judges idea of what is an ideal conformation for each breed. The work moved aside and I believe the breeders went astray.  Today thanks to the documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” the KC (UK Kennel Club) has been force to go back and rethink the focus and some incredible things are happening.  I can only hope the AKC will follow suit and we will again see temperament and health trump a judges choice of the perfect dog.

Here is a recent article on  that I feel need repeating here and hope more people read and demand changes here in the US.

“Update: Pedigree Dogs Exposed Image via WikipediaThe UK Kennel Club, after a lot of strife and public opprobrium, has made some positive changes since the bombshell documentary ”Pedigree Dogs Exposed” aired. And it just begs for an equally hard look at what the AKC is up to, especially given their new discount registration papers program for puppy mill dogs. Any journalists left in this country or should we be calling our representatives to demand H1B visas to import some?

• The Kennel Club (KC) will no longer register the progeny of father/daughter; mother/son or full-sib matings (unless convinced of a strong scientific reason for doing so).

• The KC is running a prominent “fit for function, fit for life” campaign (

• The KC has made changes to 78 breed standards in order to discourage/reverse exaggerations and has added the following clause to every breed standard: “A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.”

• The KC has commissioned an independent enquiry into dog-breeding that will report in January. Headed by Professor Sir Patrick Bateson it is expected to make strong recommendations regarding the need to preserve/improve genetic diversity.

• Two other independent enquiries – one from the RSPCA and one an all-party parliamentary group – have come to the same broad conclusions as the film – that there are serious welfare problems that need to be addressed urgently. Both have favored self-regulation rather than new legislation and also recognize that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The APGAW (Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare) report is downloadable from here: The RSPCA report is downloadable from here: • The KC, as part of a ‘stakeholder’ group compromising veterinary and animal welfare organizations, has signed up to the following welfare principles: 1) every dog should be born with the best possible chance of living a healthy and happy life, well suited to its intended lifestyle 2) all those who breed dogs should prioritize health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed, in order to protect the welfare of both the parents and offspring 3) all those who benefit from dogs have a collective responsibility to work together to protect dog welfare More info:

• The KC has announced that it is minded to allow the registration of Dalmatians crossed with a pointer (known as LUA or NUA Dalmatians) in order to alleviate the breed of a debilitating, sometimes fatal, condition caused by high uric acid levels. Objections from the UK breed clubs (requested by Dec 31 2009) can only be on the grounds of health and welfare (ie.not on the grounds of breed purity). Although the KC has allowed some limited out crossing in the past, it is being more proactive in this area. See also:

• The KC has launched a new Canine Genetics Centre based at the Animal Health Trust (the main developer of DNA tests in the UK)

• The Animal Health Trust says it has had a “huge increase in breeders” wanting to help in the development of new DNA tests since the program.

• The KC has improved judge’s training inc that judges of gundog breeds must attend field trials before being allowed to judge at Ch show level. • Breed clubs’ Code of Ethics are no longer allowed to condone the culling of healthy puppies that don’t meet the breed standard.

• The KC has withdrawn the allocation of CCs from GSDs in 2012, demanding evidence that conformation problems in the breed are being tackled. ( • Many more cavaliers are being MRI scanned for syringomyelia. (A three-fold increase in the number of MRI-scanned dogs listed on the UK Club’s website)

• The KC has promised breed health plans for every breed. Part of this will be an assessment of the genetic diversity of every breed.

• The RSPCA is funding the University of Sydney to develop a veterinary-based disease-surveillance scheme. Progress has been made as Ryan O’Meara of K9 Magazine remarked at the conclusion of this list he published.”