Many of us make careful choices about the food we buy for our pets. In recent years, commercial dog foods have expanded their options to include limited ingredient dog foods, grain-free foods, and even rare/alternative proteins. Many of these foods are meant to address underlying health issues, such as allergies.

dog begging

Photo: philhearing/Flickr

Yet, some trends in commercial dog food may not align with the nutritional needs of dogs. Further, food recalls are surprisingly common, even among well-known commercial dog food brands. Many pet parents, in consultation with their veterinarian, are interested in alternatives to commercial pet foods, hoping that more tailored diets will help their pup feel their best.

Related: 5 Easy Homemade Dog Treats To Make Your Pup Happy

PupJournal took a detailed look into one dog parent’s perspective. Christy Park has been on a long journey to find the right food for her pup, Rookie, who has ongoing skin issues. Dogs who have food allergies often show symptoms on their skin, unlike humans, whose food allergies may show up in more severe ways, such as constriction of the throat.

curious dog

Photo: uditha wickramanayaka/Flickr

Rookie, a Yorkie who Christy rescued in 2012, has been through a lot when it comes to food. After trying many high-end commercial brands, Rookie stopped eating completely, and Christy knew it was time to consult with her veterinarian.

The vet first recommended a prescription diet, and when that didn’t work, eventually recommended a raw diet. That didn’t work either, as Rookie continued to have serious skin issues.

the dogist

Rookie, recently captured by dog photographer The Dogist.

Eventually, the vet recommended an elimination diet, in which all common allergens are eliminated, and then slowly reintroduced one by one to determine the cause of a dog’s food allergies. In Rookie’s case, eggs turned out to be the culprit.

Christy, Rookie’s human mom, says that the whole process of identifying what was causing Rookie’s skin reactions took about a year and a half — and Rookie had to wear the “cone of shame” the entire time. Christy says,

“During the year and a half while I was sorting through his food allergies with an elimination diet, he wore the cone and went to his daycare and even had his birthday parties with his friends with his cone on! Nothing stops him from being fierce and being a social butterfly. Now, he runs away when he sees a cone and gives me ‘the look’/side eye. We both are relieved that he doesn’t have to wear it anymore and he can be a social butterfly like he is without wearing it!

A photo posted by Rookie the Rockstar ?? (@the.rookster) on

Knowing that eggs were the culprit, and that many commercial foods didn’t work well for Rookie, Christy turned to another alternative: a local service that makes dog food with human-grade ingredients, called PetPlate.

We asked Renaldo Webb, founder of PetPlate, where he came up with the idea, and how his food might help dogs with allergies, like Rookie’s, or with other health issues. Renaldo says,

“I started PetPlate after working as a consultant in pet food factories for over a year. What I saw showed me why over 50% of dogs and cats in America are overweight or suffer from serious issues such as allergies or diabetes, and made me want to create a healthier and convenient alternative for my dog, Winston. I worked with veterinarians for about a year to develop dishes that work for all dogs, even dogs as sensitive as Rookie. We wanted to focus on simple ingredients that you would feed your family, and worked to incorporate a balance of antioxidants, fiber, and protein to really help improve the health and well-being of all pets.”

dog getting treats

Photo: Andrew Vargas/Flickr

For now, PetPlate delivers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, but they’re planning to expand to Staten Island and New Jersey in the near future.

For more cute pictures of Rookie, and to see how well he’s doing on his new diet, you can find him on Instagram.

Related: Dog Food Recall Issued by FDA

Editor’s note: We recommend consulting directly with your dog’s veterinarian when making choices about your pup’s diet.

Header image via Søren Øxenhave/Flickr