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Ask the Vet – Allergies to Grain and Skin Problems

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

Each issue, Dr. Edward Moser, a board certified veterinary nutritionist, answers your questions on pet food nutrition.

Q: My dog has what appears to be a severe allergy; I have heard that it could stem from grain ingredients in his food. I have tried a small amount of grain-free food and he has responded well. I am soon going to deplete the food I have and am wondering if Wellness has grain-free dry foods.

A: Wellness offers several dry grain-free canine diets. They are CORE Original Formula, CORE Reduced Fat Formula and CORE Ocean Formula.

The sources of protein for CORE Original formula are turkey and chicken; for Reduced Fat Formula are turkey, chicken, and whitefish: and for Ocean Formula are whitefish, salmon, and menhaden fish.

The Original Formula and the Ocean Formula are both about 34% protein and 14% fat (as fed) – so about 430 kcal ME per cup. The Reduced Fat Formula is about 34% proteins and 9% fat (as fed) — about 350 kcal ME per cup.

CORE canine grain-free diets are also available in moist form. (12.5 ounce cans)

With any severe skin condition, in addition to undertaking a dietary trial, your vet should be consulted to rule out atopy (environmental allergies) fleas, ringworm, demodex, scabies, secondary yeast and bacterial overgrowth or other underlying medical conditions.

Q: I rescue Shelties and most of them have serious skin problems. After putting them on Wellness whitefish and sweet potato protein diet, I noticed a positive change. Is this actually the correct diet for dogs with skin problems and allergies?

A: Wellness Complete Health Whitefish and Sweet Potato Recipe has been successfully used as a commercial elimination trial diet.

Look at the ingredient list for canine Complete Health Whitefish and Sweet Potato Recipe. The protein sources are from whitefish and menhaden fish; barley, rye and sweet potato serve as carbohydrate energy sources. These are not common major ingredients in dry dog foods.

When choosing a diet for a food elimination trial; we look for ingredients in the test food which the dog has not had exposure to, in the most recent 6 months to 1 year, in their commercial diet.

Before the introduction of the Wellness line called Simple Solutions, which is specifically designed for use as a food elimination test and long term maintenance diet for sensitive dogs; the Complete Health Whitefish and Sweet Potato Recipe was often used successfully as a commercial food elimination trial diet.

The recently updated Simple Food Solutions Formulas for Dogs are designed to combat adverse skin and gastrointestinal reaction to foods; use protein sources like duck, lamb or salmon along with rice, and canola oil to keep the ingredient list brief, novel, and non-reactive. Both moist and dry form is available.

When you feed this diet exclusively for 6 to 8 weeks with clinical success; it indicates that some ingredient in the previous diet was responsible for the adverse skin reactions.

You should enlist the help of your veterinarian to rule out any non dietary causes of poor skin condition.

2 Responses to “Ask the Vet – Allergies to Grain and Skin Problems”

  1. Susan Getcehll says:

    I was wondering if it takes a dog a while to aquire a test for the white fish and sweet potatoe formula? i am currently weaning jack to it and he’s not thrilled, i don’t want to switch him again! any sugestions for me? I appreicialte it!!

    Susan Getchell

  2. Carmen says:


    I have two beagles. The male has irritable bowel and the female has severe skin allergies. I have now successfully switched both over to simple solutions salmon formula. The male has been on it for about a week with no drooling, vomiting or loose stool. My female has been on it for about three weeks. Her belly has no hives but is still a little pink and she has no eye, or ear irritation. She was given two doses of cortisone 3 weeks ago. I am hoping to take her for testing with no drugs in her system in 3 weeks. I think she has both inhalant and food allergies. I think the female is allergic to poultry-chicken, turkey, etc.

    My question is after the 8 weeks on the elimination diet -what do I do? Do they stay on it? Do I introduce a potential allergen?