I'm going to be taking my dog to the vet soon to get him allergy tested, but I just wanted to see if anyone had any ideas here first.
I have a five-year-old 60# australian shepherd/st bernard named Cash. I've had him since I adopted him from the pound at 10-months-old. When I got him, I had him on Purina (I know, it's crap...but I didn't know any better). We were going through it way too quickly, so I did some research and found out which foods were better. I upgraded him from Purina to Purina One (didn't have the money that paycheck to go any higher), then upgraded him to Blue Buffalo. He was on Blue Buffalo for nearly a year and did wonderfully on it.
When I moved back to my hometown, I was going to school full-time and my parents were paying for everything, so I had to compromise on his food. My parents absolutely refused to pay $30 for a 15# bag of dog food (nevermind the fact that it took us two months to go through that 15# bag), so I found a cheaper brand that still had a decent ingredients list. We fed Kirkland's Signature lamb and rice for the next two years until I got my job and could pay for my own food. When I started paying for my own food, but switched him to Canidae All Life Stages, with the chicken, turkey, lamb and fish. It gave him such horrible gas that he actually refused to come inside until that bag of food was gone. After the All Life Stages was gone, I changed him to Canidae Lamb and Rice formula. He did great on it and loved it.
Fast forward a few months to when I got Aires. I ended up having to move out of the (rent-free) house I was in and move into a friend's converted garage (paying $250 a month in rent), so money became unexpectedly tight and I switched him yet again to Diamond Naturals lamb and rice. He's been on the Diamond Naturals now for the past year or so. I just recently (this last bag I bought a couple of weeks ago) started him back on the Canidae lamb and rice for reasons I'll explain in a bit.
Okay, so here's what's going on, now that you know his feeding history. When I started feeding him the Diamond Naturals, he started itching more. He would randomly sit down and scratch himself hard. I thought it might be fleas (he was mainly outside when we moved to my hometown and could get under my deck, which wasn't the cleanest), so I started him on BioSpot flea treatment. It seemed to help a bit, but he still itched. After we moved to our new place, I figured the itching would stop since he wouldn't be exposed to under the deck anymore, but it hasn't stopped at all. Here's the thing, though. I have NEVER seen a flea on him or any flea dander. Granted, he has a thick coat, but you'd think I'd see them in the shorter fur around his face. Anyway, I just had him groomed yesterday (first time EVER at the groomers and he did AMAZING! They said they absolutely adored him and he was a complete gentleman) and I specifically asked them to check him for fleas. No fleas or dander were found and they even washed him with a flea shampoo, just to be on the safe side. He is still itching up a storm.
So, this leads me to believe that he possibly has allergies. His itchiest spots are his shoulders, his chest, his legs and his butt (right at the base of his tail, usually). He very rarely scratches his ears or face, as one would expect from a dog with fleas. I thought about environmental factors, but his itching remains consistent through the seasons, never intensifying during any one season, so I don't think that's it. That only leaves food allergies.
So, does anyone know of any good dog foods for allergies? I was thinking maybe AvoDerm? He is kind of picky and won't eat anything chicken flavored (he loves real chicken, but it took him four days to finish two cups of the last chicken and rice flavored food I bought him), so I would prefer something not chicken. Cost isn't a huge deal, either. I'd love to put him on a large breed formula (he already has problems with his hips at 5...yay for st bernards ), but they're all chicken and rice (at least that I've found) and he won't eat them.