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I have a 11 month old female GSD, who currently has 3-4 cups a day of Lamb & Rice Purina One. I'm not sure is doing very well on her current food and if this may be having a negative impact on her health, and I'm at a loss as to what would be my best next step?

She was recently diagnosed with having a recurrent yeast ear infections and overall I am understanding this may be caused by poor nutrition / allergies or sensitivities to something in her food as the most likely cause?! My vet didn't offer much advice beyond that some dogs are sensitive to wheat, beef, chicken or diary, but that he doesn't really know for sure. That was it! My vet also advised me against going grain-free, as she said this is now known as a bad option. I'm quite lost as to what the best option would be in that case, as a lot of information seems to be quite contradictory and confusing?

Doing my own research on food I see that a lot of people recommend the brands Diamond and Fromm brands of food, price wise they do seem more affordable than some of the other better brands and this is a factor for me. Can anyone give me advice on the best option or formulation of food in this case? I do supplement my girls food with a lot of fresh meat when I can get it, Chicken Livers, Gizzards, Hearts, Chicken Feet, and general chicken / beef / pork meat cuts. Should I be cutting these out or avoiding chicken and beef?

Hopefully someone can help, thanks guys! :)
 

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If you have recurrent ear infections, they might need to be cultured and tested for sensitivity. They send a sample off to a lab, grow it out, and see what drugs, if any still work on it. It could be that the medicine simply isn't healing them.

I would also consider using Zymox Otic regularly for a while on a dog with this issue. It's an OTC ear treatment that has an enzyme that prevents microbial overgrowth. It's easy to use (no ear cleaning), and painless. The kind with hydrocortosone relieves pain and itching almost instantly too -- but they also make it without HC. I keep a big bottle around. The way I use it is to do a week-long course at the first sign of an ear issue in problem-prone dogs (meaning as soon as the dog starts batting at its ears)...and it almost always eliminates the issue without the need for vet-prescribed meds:

https://www.chewy.com/zymox-otic-pet-ear-treatment/dp/54785

You can read about how it works here:
Pet Ear Health | Zymox Ear Treatments - zymox.net


People on the Internet also love to say yeast is caused by eating carbs, but the science doens't support it -- it's a myth that's been repeated so often that people believe it's truth. The only problem is that it's not true:
https://www.petmd.com/blogs/thedailyvet/ken-tudor/2015/september/there-connection-between-carbs-and-yeast-infections-pets-33218

Yeast can be associated with allergies because inflamed skin is more susceptible to infection by staph and yeast. But food allergies are far less likely than most people think.

As for real food allergies, PROTEIN is much more likely to cause an allergy than GRAIN. You'd never know that from the grain-free marketing hype though. So if you're looking for a suspect and feeding a lamb-based food, lamb would be my first suspect. You can try getting the dog off lamb for at least 6 weeks. (FWIW, my dad feeds Purina One, and he rotates all the "types" in the line...except lamb! That one gives his very sensitive dog diarrhea. It is different enough from the rest of the Puriana One line in his experience that he just doesn't buy it.)

I've fed a lot of Kirkland/Diamond Naturals/4 Health Chicken and Rice to foster dogs, as that's what our rescue buys (they're all basically the same, just sold under different labels). That particular Diamond-made food feeds out great to dogs who don't have allergies to its ingredients! It's a very good "budget" food at $28 per 40 pounds at Costco. There are better foods out there, but not at this price! (Note that this isn't the "regular" Diamond food -- it's the Diamond Naturals line).

Fromm Classic is definitely worth looking at. It's chicken-based. It's significantly less expensive than Four Star, with about the same protein and calories (and no peas!). It's their lowest cost food, but the ingredients are still quite nice!

Victor should also be on your radar. Their entry-level foods are also in the same price range, and many dogs do well on it.

For allergy dogs, the rescue buys Wellness Simple because we've had much better success with it than with other limited ingredient foods. I don't know why, but they more of them react better on it than the other brands we've tried.

If you're giving her chicken bits as treats, you can try feeding a chicken-based food, and only doing chicken-based stuff for a few months, and see if it makes any difference. You need to pick ONE type of protein, though, and stick with it for 6-8 weeks, without mixing beef/chicken/fish/etc. if you're trying to see if there's a food allergy!


There are also a small number of dogs that just don't do well on kibble. While two of mine do great on Fromm Four Star, the third one is such a mess with genuine allergies that we can find no kibble that works for him. He has to eat a fresher alternative diet. You're a long way from that though. Hopefully something simpler will solve your dogs problems!
 

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Thank you Magwart for your very informative and thorough reply :) It's definitely helped me better understand the potential situation, and how I can go about tackling it for the future! I've ordered those ear drops, and I'll try your advice and switch to only chicken for a few months to see how she does. I think I'll try the Diamond Naturals for now and see how it goes, and try something else if there doesn't seem to be any improvements. It seems a very fair price, but I could go to a slightly more expensive option if needs be. Fingers crossed!
 
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