The signs you are describing are certainly consistent with a food allergy, although intestinal parasites, intestinal disease and EPI can also cause chronic soft stools. If your veterinarian has not performed a fecal analysis for parasites and bloodwork to rule out these other diseases, then I recommend that they be performed. If all the labwork comes back normal, then I would recommend that you talk to your veterinarian about an appropriate prescription hypoallergenic diet such as Royal Canin rabbit/potato or a hydrolyzed diet such as Hill's z/d or Purina HA. Holistic does not necessarily mean hypoallergenic, and I have had plenty of dogs allergic to both lamb and rice. Unfortunately, there is no accurate skin or blood test for food allergy in dogs, the test and treatment is the hypoallergenic diet for 6-8 weeks with no other treats, table scraps, rawhides, milkbones, chewable supplements, etc.
The dermatitis, hairloss and odor that you are describing is likely a bacterial skin infection, secondary to allergies. Normal bacteria on the skin overgrow and create infection in allergic animals. Both food allergy and pollen/dust allergies can cause recurrent skin infections in dogs, as can hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism. Please take him to your veterinarian this week to be assessed, and if infection is confirmed, then a 3-4 week course of antibiotics and anitbacterial shampoos will be needed. But keep in mind that until the underlying cause of the skin infection is appropriately diagnosed and treated, it will likely recur when antibiotics are finished.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM
Diplomate American College of Veterinary Dermatology
The dog has had this before and after i switched his food, the brown crusty spots went away on their own , but he has always been a bad shedder. I mean it is terrible! I don't know how such a short hair dog can have any hair left when he sheds like he does. The little spots look like the size of a mosquito bite, you can see them under his hair. They are not raised but you can see tiny brown flakes around them and it is oily and smelly. Looks like he got bit by something up and down his back bone area. But it isn't bites. The dog has never been able to poop solid since day one. Mybe it is bad breeding. Breeder recommended Eagle brand which we fed, but my other dane mix can't eat chicken because she itches on it, so we went with the Anchovie/sardine formula, and the extra fish oils helped some with the shedding and the smelly coats, but the poop was mushy! So we went to Canidae lamb and rice which he did great on, but canidae switched their formula and he couldn't tolerate it. We fed raw for awhile and that really helped the shedding and his poops were tiny and solid but it was expensive and hard to find cheep providers in my area and he stopped eatting chicken completely on it. Just preferred pork, beef other meat sources etc...so we stoppe dit and fed California natural fish and sweet potatoe. That was great fo rhis coat but he still was shedding and his poos were mush on it. Not to mention it was $50 a bag and only came in 30lb bags. way too expensive. I have about had it. I can't afford to feed him vet diets that cost upwards of $50 a bag. I have 2 dogs, and a family to feed also. Is there anything else I can do besides feed super expensive food?
Unfortunately big dogs are expensive to buy and to maintain, certainly a big responsibility for anyone to consider before buying a giant breed. There are rescue groups who could help find your dog a home that can afford his care, please consider this before euthanasia. My recommendations for the yearly physical exam, bloodwork, fecal exam for parasites, antibiotics for the skin infection and hypoallergenic diet trial still stand.
Prescription foods are expensive, true, but sometimes they are the only thing that works, and you certainly have tried many OTC foods. You could try Nature's recipe Vegetarian or Venison formulas, since he did not do well on fish based foods. A diet change will not make intestinal parasites or skin infection go away, however, so please get him to your veterinarian.
Kimberly Coyner, DVM