A Little Common Sense is a Terrible Thing to Waste – Dogs and Their Allergies


Science hasn’t been able to solve the allergy and skin problems that have been plaguing millions of dogs in this country and I want to share a common sense approach to analyzing and resolving the problems that has been extremely successful – not just theoretically, but in real life with hundreds and hundreds of dogs. This is based on my experience with thousands of dogs in our dog food store over the last 11 years as well as knowledge gleaned from our experience in the dog food industry manufacturing special dog food formulas for the last 7 years that have actually been effective in dealing with these common problems.

Portrait of brown eyed dog

1) There are millions of dogs that are suffering from some form of allergy, food intolerance, or skin conditions such as dry itchy areas, rashes, hot spots, hair loss, excess shedding, dry, dull fur, yeasty ears or paws, constant licking or gnawing of an area. It breaks my heart to read the frustration of their owners and the suffering of their dogs on the different websites as they search for answers that aren’t there.

2)  Science has been focused on symptoms rather than the source of the problem and I think it’s accurate to assume that they haven’t identified the true source of the problem or they would have had more success treating it.

3) Despite the application of various drugs and treatments there doesn’t seem to be any lasting relief for these animals – nothing that fully and effectively resolves the problems.

Wolfsrudel im Winter

4) Wolves, coyotes, and dingoes do not have the allergies or skin problems that are so common in domesticated dogs. Our dogs eat a diet with high glycemic carbs like potatoes, sweet potatoes, various grains, or other high glycemic carbohydrates that wolves, coyotes, and dingos do not eat. Common sense tells us to investigate the high glycemic carbs  as a possible source of the problems.

5) Anyone who suggests to the experts or manufacturers that the carbohydrates in the dog food might be the cause of the problems is usually responded to in two ways:   

Close-up of doctor's finger pushing virtual button on monitor

First: They are informed (often in a slightly condescending tone) that there is no scientific peer reviewed evidence to validate that idea. 

Second: They are told that lab tests show dogs can metabolize (break down) the various high glycemic carbohydrates (which is meant to imply that they are healthy for the dog to eat)

My responses to these two opinions are as follows:

First: Stating that peer reviewed papers support the idea that something may be valid is one thing, but saying that a lack of peer-reviewed papers implies the opposite (that it doesn’t exist or isn’t real) is patently false. This is just common sense. A lack of proof that something exists does not prove that it doesn’t exist. It simply means there is no information for either side of the argument. For instance, Science is unable to prove that love exists. There are no peer-reviewed papers. Does anyone believe that love does not exist simply because there are no peer-reviewed papers to support the idea?

Second: Saying that a food can be metabolized by the body does not imply that it is therefore good for the body. That is a totally false assumption.

Young boy eating cereal in living room smiling

Statements like that are deliberate attempts to mislead – no scientist would make such a ridiculously flawed statement. My son would probably eat cold cereal three meals a day if I let him. His body has the ability to metabolizes all that starch and sugar BUT that does not mean that it is healthy for him. If he tried to live on bowls of sugary cold cereal he would eventually be as sick as many dogs are these days.

kranker kleiner Hund

6) Science obviously doesn’t have the answer or we wouldn’t have so many sick dogs; and the logic they use to discourage inquiry into a possible solution, that eliminates high glycemic carbohydrates, is deeply flawed, not to mention highly self-serving since it benefits them to be able to add these low cost ingredients to the dog food to increase their profit marginfrightened and shocked young woman without make-up.

7) If you had six children and three of them became very sick from eating left-overs that the other children had not eaten, would you need a scientific study to decide that no one else in the family should eat those left-overs?  If your husband  tried to feed those left-overs to the other children, by reasoning that there were no scientific peer reviewed studies to prove that left-overs caused the problem with the first 3 kids, you’d look at him like he had two heads, scoop up the food and throw it in the garbage. Just common sense.


8) It’s valid to say that something hasn’t been confirmed by scientific studies; but it’s totally false to imply that an idea or process isn’t true unless it’s been validated by scientific studies. Many things are true that science has not addressed yet and there are many things that are outside the ability of science to verify. This is made abundantly clear when you realize that science has not, and cannot, prove that love exists. It’s the most important aspect of life and science isn’t equipped to recognize it. Common sense gets it right away.

9) Science can contribute to our knowledge base under certain circumstances – but even then it should never replace our common sense and deductive reasoning.

Stray dog skin disease. Leprous dog.

10) Why are we so willing to believe the mega-companies who keep telling us there are no studies to verify that it’s harmful to feed dogs grain, sweet potato, white potato, lentils, soy, or sugar, etc.? Why aren’t we questioning these assumptions and investigating every avenue until we find real solutions for the millions of suffering dogs in our country?   Why have we stopped using our common sense in this area?

11) President Reagan made the Russian proverb,  “Trust – but verify”, famous when he used it during his meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev shortly before the Berlin Wall came down. That’s all I’m suggesting. Why not remove the questionable ingredients from the food to see if it makes a difference. If the problems go away when they are removed then you know they caused the problem. If not, then you keep looking.

Why are we accepting the explanation on one side of the argument without questioning it? The fact that wolves and wild dogs are almost never affected by allergies and skin conditions when compared to domesticated dogs is reason enough to suspect what is different in the diet as a possible cause of the skin and allergy problems. It’s just common sense.

Three dogs running in the yard

12) We have run hundreds and hundreds of these tests on dogs through our dog food store and the results were consistent and overwhelmingly positive. In every case when we removed all grain products, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils, beans, and sugar from the dog’s diet for a 6 month period there was a remarkable improvement in the overall condition of the dog and a corresponding reduction or elimination of the Allergy symptoms and skin problems it had at the start. 

Labrador dog

We can argue theory or discuss what may or may not be the reason that almost every single dog benefitted greatly by eliminating these ingredients from their diet. We can look at existing science and nutritional data and discuss their theoretical merits or failings, but we cannot deny the results observed in hundreds of dogs and the direct link between eliminating these ingredients and the corresponding reduction of allergy related problems and an increase in overall health. Theories must bend to meet reality – not the other way around. Just common sense.

veterinary surgeon is giving the vaccine to the dog German Sheph

Allergy Shots

13)  Ask yourself what the long term prognosis for your dog is if it’s being treated with injections of allergy medications, or corticosteroids like Prednisone. Are the drug companies promising that within 6 months the cause of the problem will be resolved? Why choose drugs over healthy food when there’s a very good chance that healthy food will eventually resolve the source of the problem and actually create a healthier dog long term?

After a year or two on allergy drugs would you guess that your dog is going to be healthier as a result of taking the drugs? How about after 5 or 6 years? With drugs there is no end to the treatment. I’m suggesting that you try eliminating certain ingredients in the food that we’ve found to be problematic and which, when removed for at least 6 months has been highly successful at resolving the allergy and skin conditions. It’s not a theory – it’s a reality backed by hundreds and hundreds of successful cases.

14) What do you have to lose by trying to resolve the problems with a diet that has been extremely successful? The diet that’s successful doesn’t have any of the following:


GRAIN                       POTATOES          SWEET POTATOES            SUGAR

golden retriever dog sitting on isolated  white

No Grain, No Potato, No Sweet Potato, No Lentils, No Sugar in any form (sucrose, molasses, etc.), No Artificial Coloring, No synthetic Preservative (Ethoxyquin)

This diet won’t hurt your dog in any way (I’m not suggesting chemicals designed to mask symptoms) and there is a  very high probability of it helping your dog substantially. You’ll see a difference in a couple months and in 6 months you’ll see a bigger difference. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose (I’m just suggesting healthy food minus some questionable ingredients – how can that hurt?)

19) This elimination diet is just a rudimentary bare bones diet but it will show you that eliminating these questionable ingredients can and will improve your dog’s health. Once you realize that you can improve your dog’s health with such elemental changes to its diet there are further refinements that will help accelerate the healing and lead to a more robust and thorough state of health and wellbeing should you want to continue the journey. Some additional things to include would be as follows:

  1. Long chain, highly branched prebiotics (such as Inulin)
  2. Probiotics added to each meal (the probiotics in most dog foods are usually 99% dead by the time your dog eats the food)
  3. Eliminate fish since most of it has been heavily treated with Ethoxyquin before it’s shipped from the wholesaler to the manufacturer ( and therefore doesn’t need to be listed on the ingredient panel which is another strange rule that AAFCO came up with ).
  4. Add digestive enzymes to every meal (Amylase, Protease, Cellulase, Lactase, Hemicellulase, Lipase). This has a substantial positive impact on the whole digestive process and helps eliminate allergies created by partially digested proteins getting into the blood stream.
  5. Protein content on a dry matter basis of 33% and over.
  6. A high percentage of the protein (80 to 95%) sourced from animals versus vegetable sources like potato, beans, etc.
  7. Fat content equal to or slightly greater than the protein on a calorie basis. Otherwise calculate it to be slightly less than one half the protein on a dry matter basis. Fat is more useful to dogs and healthier than carbohydrates.
  8. Minerals should be chelated so they’re highly available.
  9. Omega 3 from it’s pure source which is Whole Cell Algae
  10. Omega 3 to be 20% to 25% of the Omega 6 content.
  11. Natural Preservatives (mixed Tocopherols, Vitamins E and C, Rosemary extract, Green tea Extract)
  12. L-Carnitine


20) As a final thought on the subject I can assure you that I speak from actual experience with many hundreds of real dogs and this is not just another theory or partial truth. If you are absolutely faithful in following the directions and eliminating the offending ingredients that are in almost every single dog food out there you will end up with a dog that is much healthier and in our experience will have resolved 90% of the allergy symptoms and skin associated problems – all without drugs. To me this is evidence enough that grain, potato, sweet potato, lentils, beans, and sugar are not healthy additions to a dogs diet. You can prove it for yourself and your dog will be much healthier and happier.

You can contact me if you have questions or want advice about creating such a diet.



Richard Darlington Co-CEO

Brothers Complete Dog Food, LLC