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More dogs are affected by food allergies than is realized. Zero is allergic to oats and chicken.

It is outrageous that food allergies are not commonly recognized as affecting a large percentage of the dog population.  Some dogs are almost nonfunctional due to food allergies, while others manage to get by.  It is a matter of degrees.

The most common treatment is to cover allergic reactions up with corticosteroids, antihistamines, or other forms of band-aids.  That is if the doctor or owner even recognize the symptoms as being allergy related.  A more healthy solution is to identify the allergies, avoid them, make the body so healthy it is not effected, and eliminate the individual allergies or the condition that allows them to manifest.  I have not done routine desensitization by injecting offending antigens into an animal in over 30 years.


We have expanded applied kinesiology (AK) or muscle reflex testing (MRT) beyond drug and supplement testing to determine if a food product is actually good for an animal or not.  If an animal is allergic to the food it is not good for the health of the animal and we will receive a no or negative AK/MRT response. We use AK or MRT interchangeably. If the food is good for the animal we will receive a yes or positive response.  This we have done for years at our clinic.  My interests with allergies that began in the late 1970’s has expanded to using AK since 2005.  There have been others, principally chiropractors, that have been using AK to elucidate allergic conditions.  This technique has been expanded to detect food allergies on your pet long distance.


Years ago I was told by a learned veterinarian that she was able to detect a current disease condition in an animal from whom she had collected blood years ago.  She said the DNA of the pet changed with his changing conditions over the years.  The DNA gave accurate information about the pet’s current condition years after it had been collected.  This was initially hard for me to swallow, but since that time I have seen first-hand that DNA never loses its connection with its live host.  There has been much advancement in the study of quantum physics and related fields in the last few years.  The U.S. army had conducted experiments of this phenomenon with our tax dollars as reported by Kevin Trudeau (Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About, 2004, p263), where a person was subjected to various conditions and the response of their DNA was first measured in a separate room and then moved up to fifty miles apart.  Interestingly, the response of the DNA relaxing and tightening its coil occurred faster than the speed of light.  It seems that we are all instantaneously connected to ourselves.  Even our dogs are instantaneously connected to their parts.  This is a little known principle or law of the universe.  We have personally seen this apply over great distances in our veterinary practice such as from Middle Tennessee to as far West as California and Washington State and as far East as France.

       Please call 615-377-6457 for detailed instructions on what we need to conduct these allergy tests for your dog long distance.

Be sure to provide our staff with a complete food ingredients list including any treats, supplements and medications.  There have been extreme cases where we’ve had to put on our Sherlock Holmes hat and figure out that the allergic reaction was coming from a favorite blanket, toy, shampoo, yard treatment, essential oils, or other antigen sources.  However, most of the time it is fairly simple and the culprit is a food ingredient that is constant. We have most food samples, either dry or frozen, at our clinic.  We shall determine your dog’s sensitivities and quickly communicate them to you with recommendations of how to stop the travesty.


Food allergies cause inflammation throughout the body.  Signs of food allergies are principally seen in the skin, the gastrointestinal system, urinary system, and the musculoskeletal system.  However, I believe there are subtle signs in all systems of the body such as the glandular, respiratory, nervous, and sensory systems.  Cancer in any organ can be a sign of food allergies… And since we have been noting it, we have not seen a case of cancer where the pet did not have food allergies for over 15 years.

1.  The Skin – The most obvious symptoms occur in the largest organ of the body, the skin.  Some of the symptoms of inflammation are itching, redness, and swelling as the body increases blood supply to the affected area.  Often there is a loss of hair and in long term cases darkening of the skin or pigmentation as the body tries to protect itself.  In the dog common areas affected are feet, flanks, ear canals, around the eyes, and sometimes the face especially the mouth and the anus, where the antigens enter and leave.  Whatever we eat we have to poop or pee out eventually.  The antigens are incorporated into tissue body parts and as they are replaced they will have to be eliminated as the body renews itself down the road.  At this time the body will have to deal with a re-exposure to tissue antigens to which it has become allergic.

2.  The Gastrointestinal (GI) system– If an animal has digestive problems, vomiting or diarrhea on a repeated once a month basis, or indigestion, flatulence or gas, food allergies should be suspect.  Occasional vomiting and diarrhea, even a few times a month, is a sign of food allergies.  A chronically excited stomach or gut does not need a lot of stimulation to cause it to want to empty.  (It has been months since I’ve vomited and even longer since I have had diarrhea and there was expected causes for both.)  An occasional GI upset is not normal for a well individual, but it is a possible sign of underlying food allergies.

A scavenger type animal such as a dog should be able to switch from one good food to another without having to go through the gradual mixing procedure to keep from having GI problems such as diarrhea.  I myself eat a wide variety of foods without having to mix them without a hitch, and I’m not even a scavenger.  Is it unreasonable to expect our scavenger wards to do the same?  I don’t think so.  Admittedly one of the problems is feeding the same fare daily for many years which most of us owners would rebel at.

3. Respiratory Problems– It may not seem logical that food allergies would be associated with these symptoms, but we have definitely seen symptoms clear up when the food allergies are eliminated.  Respiratory problems seem to be more common in flat-nosed, toy dogs.  However, the animals in question may also have food allergies along with respiratory allergies that are cumulative in their effects.  When the food allergies are eliminated the animal’s immune system may recover enough so they will be able to resist the inhalant respiratory allergies in seasonal pollens, etc.

The respiratory system does not seem to be as much of a target organ in the dog as other species such as people, cats and horses.  There are animals that have asthma-type symptoms and chronic sinusitis, but the symptoms are not nearly as prevalent as the conditions are in humans.

4. Cancer– I see food allergies associated with almost every case of cancer treated in my veterinary practice in Brentwood, Tennessee.  When we do a cancer consultation I ask clients to bring in their dog food so I can see what allergies to it exist.


I also find that a high percentage of cancer victims have insect or tick vector diseases such as Ehrlichiosis or Lymes, which may have been responsible for the trauma that caused the allergies to develop in the first place.  The combination of a chronic disease state and allergies create an inflammatory condition in the body that is conducive to the cellular changes we know as cancer.  Part of my treatment of cancer is eliminating the inciting causes.

Animals scheduled for a cancer consultation at our clinic are requested to bring in their food and treats along with their ingredients list.  We then discern what they are allergic to and what food allergies are causing the inflammation in their bodies.  These foods are then eliminated from their diet and the animals are then treated with herbal remedies to cool the inflammation down in their bodies. An inciting cause of cancer is malformed cellular proteins that are made up of offending antigens to which our bodies have formed an immune defense against.  The cells of our body try to protect themselves from the inflammatory response that is being manifested against our own body’s allergic proteins.  As the cell tries to defend itself against the body’s own defense it puts up protoplasmic organelle defenses against the ensuing attack.  The cell membranes then change and become much more defensive cells fighting our own body’s attack.  The cells become not normal but modified, defensive cells not working for the common good of the whole body but are a changed aberrational cell, thus cancer or pre-cancer.

Alfred Pletchner in his book Pets at Risk states that he sees an inherited adrenal insufficiency in almost every case of cancer.  I have not seen this in every case but in many cases, 90-95 percent.  What is the situation that causes the adrenal gland to be overwhelmed?  What we see is chronic allergies, sometimes of years’ duration, that caused an inflamed state beyond what the adrenal gland could control naturally and has caused the body to use up more cortizone than it could produce thus exceeding the adrenal glands’ ability.  The adrenals then begin to produce sex hormones that have a similar configuration and possibly some cortisol properties.  Cortisol is used by our bodies to control excessive inflammation caused by allergies or injury.  It is necessary to prevent inflammation to become a run-away train of which cancer is at least a prominent car.  I am of the opinion that we should make every effort to control inflammation in our own bodies and our friends’ lives.  This would be controlling allergies or chronic diseases that cause an inflammatory response in the body.

5.  Other–  Almost any problem in the body can be due to a food allergy and the body attacking the proteins and causing inflammation in the tissues that make up that organ.  This can be anything from retinal degeneration to arthritis with itching skin, chronic cystitis, ear problems, and heart, liver, and urinary problems in between.

We sometimes see allergies as a cause of chronic cystitis or re-occurrent bladder or kidney problems.  Allergies are way beyond what is obvious and the ultimate cause of much of what ails our friends and ourselves.


Our very capable bodies are able to look over and ignore a few insults.  The problems begin, they multiply, and their cumulative weight becomes oppressive like the collective straws on the camel’s back, and manifestations, sickness, and dysfunctions occur. We are what we eat, so if we are allergic to something we are eating it becomes a non-functioning or malfunctioning part of us with all the ramifications that may be involved, which are many.  All of our organs and glands will be attacked by our own body’s defense as our immune systems try to neutralize the offending proteins.

We know that it takes at least eight weeks to rid the body of proteins to which it is allergenic.  I would not be surprised if it actually took much longer to change all the protein content of the body.  Eight weeks has been taught, but it seems just like the blink of an eye and it may differ for different organs.  What we see practically is that the animal taken off the offending food improves noticeably in two to three weeks by at least 30-40 percent less itching and/or GI upset and gradually improves over the next 10 + weeks.


Feeding our dogs well requires some study on our part as consumers so we will know truth from hype.  We need to remember we normally exert total nutritional control over our pets unless they are supplementing their diet with prey.  Dogs are scavengers and are designed to eat a wide variety of foods and carrion.  They have survived well off the refuse of our tables until the last 80 years when dog food was invented.  Since then we vets and our clients have been convinced by the marketing geniuses employed by the dog food industry that we just feed their “scientifically” developed fare.  The fact is our pets were not designed to always be fed the same dehydrated over-cooked cereals with the taste of meat day in and day out.  We think that if the first two ingredients are meat the kibble is a good nutritious product.  Not necessarily.  The law is that the foods should be listed in order of magnitude.  If a product has 11% chicken, 10.5% beef, 10.25% corn gluten, 10.2% wheat, 10% white rice, 9% corn, 8.5% brown rice, 8% barley, 7.9% oats, 7.5% sugar beet pulp, 7.15% millet, this would make what you think is a dog food that is 21.5% meat and 78.5% grain and fiber.  There is also the interesting fact of whether a product is listed as chicken or chicken meal, beef or beef meal.  If it is listed as chicken or beef then the meat portion of the product can be 70% water as opposed to 5% water if it is a meal.  So this fantastic dog food, with meat as the first two ingredients could in reality only be 6.45% dry weight meat protein, not anything like we are led to believe! I would also like to point out that this formula contains no vegetables or grasses that a dog would get if he ate the stomach/intestinal contents of its prey as it does in the real world.

Another factor to keep in mind is the cooking and extrusion temperatures to which the food is subjected.  Most all dry foods are subjected to an extrusion process to make it into the shapes we are familiar with.  One of the requirements of the extrusion process is that there be a large percentage of carbohydrates which are not really natural for a dog or cat.  A better, but more expensive process is freeze drying which damages the ingredients much less.  Years ago I had a client of mine who was a nutritionist at Vanderbilt get me information on the extrusion process to which almost all dry dog foods were subjected to at that time.  Most of the studies were praising the process as time-saving.  I only found one article out of a three inch stack that checked for damage.

Forty percent (40%) of the lysine (an important amino acid in our immune system) is denatured at 218 degrees Fahrenheit in our breakfast cereals.  Most dog foods are cooked at much higher temperatures, many from 300 – 400 degrees F.

So what damage is done to the protein and is this altered protein more allergenic?  I hold the theory that the more we alter a substance from its natural state the more allergenic it becomes.  We should really require those from whom we are seeking nutritional advice for our beloved companions to be nutritionally current and able to defend their recommendations.  Making proteins not source identifying as Science Diet did with their z/d low allergen food, by hydrolyzing the proteins and making the low molecular weight components not source identifying is a good idea.  However, it just doesn’t seem to work as well as the theory.  I do not know where the failure is, but we have had to treat numerous dogs whose diet had been changed to the expensive z/d without success.  Maybe our bodies are just too smart for Science Diet or the body later developed an allergy to the low molecular weight protein hydrolyzed mush.

This Fall we had two cases where lawns were treated with a “pet friendly” substance to which the dogs became very allergenic.  Was it a poison?  No, but produces serious conditions in the animals from their intense allergic responses.  It may have been just fine for other animals, but there was something about the protein that caused the intense allergic response.

Have we gotten off the subject?  Yes, but I am trying to encourage you to avoid bad situations for your beloved friend by feeding less allergenic, more natural foods.  I have the theory that the more unnatural the diet the more likely we are to develop an allergy to it, all things being equal.  We see a lot of allergies to chicken.  This is because most foods contain chicken as an acceptable meat source and I believe that the chicken in our dog food in our supermarkets least resembles natural, free-range chickens.  This is because of what they are fed and the hormones given to increase growth, especially breast tissue.  If you are not an avid label reader you might think you are buying one protein source when in reality three or four other meat protein sources could be in the food including chicken fat.  You can’t go by the big print on the front of the bag, you must turn it over and read the small, fine print to find out that the meat protein buffalo and venison flavor that you think you’re buying is in reality 50% chicken to which your dog has developed an allergy.

We find dogs allergic to supermarket beef that are not allergic to our grass-fed organic beef.  I believe that cattle, even in a feed lot situation toward the end of their productive life, are not as changed as a chicken who is fed the growth promoting feed his entire life.  Most cattle have spent the majority of their life on pasture.

My wife was appalled one weekend when we had gone to visit my mother.  No, this is not a mother-in-law joke.  She had forgotten to bring along dog food.  The local small town grocery store had a large aisle with dog and cat food, but as she read the labels she was astonished to find that on every single bag of food the number one ingredient listed was CORN… ground yellow corn, ground whole corn, corn gluten meal.  Was this natural corn like was raised 50 years ago or the genetically modified variety our bodies may not know how to process?  What are we feeding man’s best friend, our dog?


Years ago I went with a friend of mine to see a highly successful nutritionist in Atlanta.  He advised us to get off products that had gluten in them, including wheat, because it gummed up our intestines and impaired absorption of valuable nutrients.  He emphasized the fact that we get the term glue from gluten.  He added that the gluten was indigestible and just harmed our bodies because of the gumming up process.  At this time corn gluten was not yet a popular ingredient in dog foods.  As years passed we were carrying a major dog food highly recommended especially by dog show participants.  This company’s dog food did not contain corn gluten, but their cat food did.  I called them enough times and was finally able to reach their head nutritionist.  I asked him why their cat food contained corn gluten, for which he gave an answer having to do with ash content and the resulting urinary difficulties in cats.  I told him that my nutritionist said that I could not digest gluten, to which he readily agreed.  I then posed the question, “If I can’t digest gluten, and I’m more herbivorous that a cat, how come a cat can?”  His answer was, “Good question.”  Then I asked him about the digestibility studies of the corn gluten in their cat food.  With a shuffling of papers he embarrassingly said that he would have to get back to me on that.  I currently do not recommend food for dogs, cats or humans that contains gluten.

I repeat, there is a general principle that allergies are cumulative.  The straw that breaks the camel’s back routine.  There is phenomenon that those of us that work with allergies recognize termed “the itch threshold.”  An animal is able to tolerate several allergies without being noticeably adversely affected.  This does not mean that there will not be bio chemical changes that will have been noticed or not, or detected or not with blood chemistry assays.  When the range for a particular enzyme which is released upon cellular damage is from 10 to 110 this leaves a lot of leeway for less than optimum function or undetected pathology.  There could be a lot of dysfunction, but not what is determined to be above the unacceptable.  Just because it is within the normal range that does not mean it is optimal or desirable.  So what does an inflammatory response trigger?  It should say: “Get out of me now! Get this off of me!  Itch, scratch me.  Vomit, diarrhea.”

We have found because foods are somewhat limited and are constant in an animal’s environment, allergies to them are more easily detected and dealt with than pollens from crops, grasses, trees, molds, and household antigens.  The goal is a compromise.  Get the dog below the adversity threshold level.  Get him to where he can tolerate life and not have diarrhea or itch incessantly.  This should be able to be done without having to have monthly visits to the vet clinic for corticoid steroid injections.  We also hope another result will be optimum health beyond expectations.

For many years veterinarians and allergists essentially left the cause of allergies blank because they did not know the answer. It appears now that a good working theory, even if not complete, is that animals, including people, develop allergies as a defense mechanism to make us uncomfortable so we will avoid a situation that has caused us trauma in the past.  This can either be emotional or physical trauma.  For a dog, this could be the introduction of a new four-legged canine family member. Dogs are pack animals with their own personalities and hierarchy.  The new addition may decide he wants the old member’s pack position and then there might be a dominance struggle that could last for years with the resulting emotional and physical trauma. Another emotional event for man’s best friend is the addition of a human to the household or the loss of a family member.  The true story of Hachiko (an Akita who mourned the death of his owner) is a good example that we have seen played out, although less dramatically, in many cases of loss either through death or divorce.

We have also seen cases of emotional trauma and depression from the loss of a close canine soul mate.  As sensitive and caring guardians it would be wise for us to anticipate the long term effects of this trauma and give our friends emotional support such as more one on one & play time.  Additional help would also come with the use of Bach flower therapy, essential oils or other natural treatments to minimize the trauma and avoid its consequences.  Trauma could also be caused by a trip to a boarding facility, being spayed, neutered, a serious illness or accident.  All of these trauma producing events are likely to produce an allergy.

Years ago, while being mentored in deliverance ministry, I was taught by a very knowledgeable lady that allergies were a sign of a demonic spirit of infirmity.  I am not sure that developing an allergy as a consequence to an extremely traumatic event is not a natural occurrence.  This would be a design in our makeup that has been found beneficial in the long haul or we would not have it. When the situation gets to be excessive or out of the ordinary, I believe we need to look at it from another perspective or at least consider other alternatives or my mentor’s advice.


The number one ingredient in almost all of the following dog foods is CORN.  Is this the corn that we grew up with and our grandparents raised and our bodies knew how to digest?  I, like many others today, am concerned about genetically modified corn and can we properly digest and utilize these nutrients?  Have our bodies been exposed to these new substances long enough for our bodies to be able to adapt to digesting them for fuel?  Even if we were happy with corn as the number one ingredient is there any testing to see if it is digestible?  The Woodland Indians, who were a corn-based society, were known for their poor health.

The following are nationally known, popular dog food brands that hopefully your dog is NOT eating.  We are listing the first eight ingredients.  Please especially note the first ingredient listed on each bag.

Beneful Playful Life™ dry dog food
Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), rice flour, beef, soy flour.

Beneful Healthy Harvest® dry dog food
Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soy protein concentrate, soy flour, water, rice flour.

Hills Prescription Diet z/d Canine Ultra Allergen-Free
Starch, Hydrolyzed Chicken Liver, Soybean Oil (preserved with BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid), Hydrolyzed Chicken, Powdered Cellulose, Lactic Acid, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate.

Hills Prescription Diet i/d Gastronintestinal Health
Whole Grain Corn, Brewers Rice, Dried Egg Product, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Pork Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Powdered Cellulose, Lactic Acid.

Hills Science Diet Adult Health Mobility
Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Wheat, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Animal Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Chicken Liver Flavor, Corn Gluten Meal, Flaxseed.

Iams Premium Protection Adult Dog
Chicken By-Product Meal (Natural source of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine), Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Fish Meal (source of fish oil), Chicken, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Flavor.

Iams Premium Protection Mature Adult
Chicken By-Product Meal (Natural source of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine), Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Chicken, Brewer’s Rice, Fish Meal, Dried Beet Pulp.

Ol’ Roy Premium Dry Dog Food
Ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal, soybean meal, wheat middlings, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, animal digest.

Ol’ Roy Soft and Moist Dog Food
Beef by-product, high fructose corn syrup, soy grits, soy flour, water, wheat flour, corn syrup, calcium carbonate.

Pedigree Adult Nutrition for Dogs
Ground whole corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), ground whole wheat, chicken by-product meal, brewer’s rice, dried plain beet pulp.

Pedigree Wholesome Nutrition for Dogs
Ground whole corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, meat and bone meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), chicken, brewers rice, dried vegetables (peas, carrots).

Pedigree Puppy
Ground whole corn, chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), ground whole wheat, natural flavor, monocalcium phosphate.

Purina One Puppy
Chicken, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, whole grain corn, oat meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soy flakes.

Purina Dog Chow Complete and Balanced
Whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), meat and bone meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, whole grain wheat.


About the author: Dr. Mark C. Ingram has been practicing veterinary medicine since 1973.  He began exploring alternative modalities in 1974.  He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association and is a veterinary chiropractitioner.  His holistic, small animal veterinary hospital is located in Brentwood, Tennessee, but he sees clients throughout the Middle Tennessee area and beyond.  While some have driven with their four-legged family members from Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, Virginia and Florida for treatment, he has also treated patients successfully through long-distance DNA testing in Arizona, California, Florida and Memphis, Tennessee.

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PHONE: Franklin Road Animal Hospital in Brentwood, Tennessee 615-377-6457.

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