When is a pig not a pig?

I learnt that pigs are not all the same this week. A regular client of mine brought her itchy dog in. There had been a flare up. It had previously responded nicely to a diet of a cooked wild boar as the sole protein souce in a commercial dog roll.

Wild boar is not the same as Farmed Pig

Unfortunately it was offered some leftovers at nana’s and this had made the skin flare up. My inquisitive brain started ticking over when the client mentioned that it was roast pork. When I checked little Roxie’s history, it turned out that at her last visit a month ago, I had suggested that Roxie’s mum try making up some pork bone broth to add to the wild boar meals as Roxie’s skin had been doing so well for a few months. How did that go? Here’s a surprise, the pork bone broth also made Roxie itch.

What the? Isn’t wild boar the same genetic species as domestic pig? After all they originally escaped from the domestic scene right? It’s the protein that initiates the allergic response according to current thinking.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

My training then kicked in. My chinese medicine training that is. According to traditional food therapy, the way food is prepared is important to how we are nourished. The body is cooled down by raw foods; think salads in summer. We traditionally cook roasts in winter to warm our constitution. Steaming, broiling and stir fries fill the spectrum between the two. That explains the reaction with the leftover pork roast. But what about the bone broth? What’s going on there?


The science of epigenetics may explain this to some degree. Our environment can influence how our genes control our body (gene expression). Chinese herbs are known to turn genes on and off. What the pig eats, how they think and live can also affect gene expression. My client had used farmed pork, not even the free range variety. Farmed pigs are fed grain and pellets. They live in a controlled, close environment. I would imagine that this is very different to the wild pigs that roam up north. We know that game meat tastes very different to the farmed equivalent. Maybe it’s not just the flavour that is different. Roxie’s skin certainly knew that it was different.

Dog biscuits

What about kibble or dry dog food? Many of my owners tell me that they only buy the grain free variety. Kibble/ biscuits are even more warming as they are cooked at high temperatures and ultraprocessed. So if you have a ‘hot dog’ , maybe kibble may not be the best option; grain free, notwithstanding.

Food for thought

Once Roxie’s skin settles down with some herbs and supplements, we’re going to try some fish and keep our fingers crossed. Roxie’s diet is hopefully going to be better controlled. You can probably guess what happened when she got access to some KFC a little while back…

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