We once had a beautiful Sheltie named Lassie. She was, by far, the smartest and most amiable dog I’ve ever had the privilege to know.
One day, when my daughter took Lassie outside to do her “business,” she noticed that Lassie was limping on one of her front paws, every now and then. She called her beloved pet over, and carefully checked to see what was wrong. After a couple of minutes of holding Lassie’s front paws up to check her, the dog squirmed away and went bounding across the yard, inviting my daughter to play her favorite game of “You Run Around While I Try to Herd You.” When they later came inside, my daughter told me about the episode, and I looked the paw over as well, but didn’t really notice much, except for a small, slightly pinkish coloration between Lassie’s toes. I thought it might be a bite from a sand flea, & told my daughter to watch it.
A few weeks later, my daughter began noticing Lassie hopping around in an especially gingerly manner. Even though the pinkish patch hadn’t gone away, but instead, looked like it might also be starting on the other front paw, my daughter and I didn’t feel especially concerned, because our pet seemed to be prancing and dashing around the house and yard as usual.
Finally, a few days later, I heard a shriek from outside the front door. I sprang outside in time to find my daughter gasping and near tears. “Look!” she shouted in fear. “Lassie’s limping on three feet now!”
Sure enough, our poor beloved pet was lifting one paw, then the other, in a tip-toe fashion that would have been comical, if it hadn’t signified that something was indeed very wrong. As we both stared, stunned, Lassie finally sat down in exasperation. She didn’t appear to be in severe pain, as she wasn’t whimpering, but she was obviously very uncomfortable, and looked definitely confused by her predicament.
As my daughter gathered up our poor dog, I dashed inside for my car keys, and we rushed straight to the vet’s. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait to get in to see him. A kindly man of perhaps ninety years, he carefully examined our Lassie, as my daughter and I stood by, anxiously awaiting his verdict.
Finally, he looked up and calmly asked what we had been feeding our dog. “Name-brand dry dog food,” I responded proudly. He stroked Lassie’s head, and then began to explain to us that many dogs and cats, as well as people, are allergic to corn, and that nearly all dry pet foods contain corn products. He then showed us that all four paws, as well as the area around the black outlines of our pet’s eyes, were all showing signs of irritation to varying degrees. His recommendation was for us to switch her to canned dog food.
Relieved, we proceeded straight to a nearby Walmart in search of the best canned dog food we could buy. I started with the most expensive brands, and was disappointed, and a little surprised, to find that each brand I checked contained some form of corn (i.e. corn gluten meal, etc.). Finally, I checked the store generic brand, and found meat as the first and main ingredient, with no corn products included. So, we loaded up,and went home.
(Note: As I recall, I was also unable to locate any canned foods without corn products in them for our two cats, so I decided to check the local feed store. What I found there was Exclusive Brand Chicken and Rice dry cat food that contained no corn products whatsoever.)
Sure enough, within a couple of weeks, Lassie’s irritated patches were almost gone! Who would have thought that a cheap, store brand food could be healthier for your pet than more expensive brands? Several months later, I decided to add Exclusive Brand Lamb and Rice dry dog food to Lassie’s diet as well, with no ill effects.
Unfortunately, both pets outlived our veterinarian. Each visit to our new vet, however, would invariably bring a remark that he found it hard to believe that our pets were as old as they were, because their vitals and overall health, were those of much younger animals! Our loving cat, Momma Kitty, lived for eleven years. And, our beloved Sheltie also grew and thrived, giving us fourteen years of loving companionship.