Allergies can be environmental or food related or both. In my experience, a dog with allergies usually has reactions to both food and environment. Also, lighter colored dogs tend to have more of an allergic response. They can be helped with proper holistic care, which includes a raw diet or a diet without grains.
The articles below address environmental allergies. Grass, dust, pollen, household cleaners, detergents and more can all trigger symptoms and discomfort in a hound without a healthy immune system. Greyhound Gang has been successful in treating these allergies naturally with a combination of:
For more info about food related allergies, go to LEARN, Medical, Food. Also check out Systemic Yeast Infections or Candida.
Achoo, by Lisa Walk
Allergy season is here and many of our pets and us will be faced with seasonal allergies. Common allergic triggers are dust, pollen, fungus & mold. Household cleaning product residue can also trigger allergic responses, both from inhalation and contact with the offending agent.
Dogs tend to manifest allergic responses in their skin. The initial phase can be seen in hives, “whorls or wheels” as they are sometimes referred to. This can progress to a more serious condition such as pyoderma- small pus filled eruptions, usually running from base of neck to tail. Other signs of allergies are excessive foot licking with or without sores in between the toes; weepy irritated eyes, runny nose, ear infections and red, irritated belly/flank area.
The building blocks to health are good genes and a good diet. Allergies may be more prevalent in an individual whose parents were also allergy sufferers. We can’t do much about the genes our pets have inherited, however, we can control their diet. There are many commercial kibble and canned foods available, some better than others. Look for a food that has a relatively “clean” ingredient list. The use of a relatively short, high quality ingredient list and essential fatty acid sources is helpful when treating allergies. The Whole Dog Journal www.whole-dog-journal.com publishes a yearly premium kibble and canned food review, and it is a valuable resource for many other holistic pet care topics.
To be cost effective, many supermarket commercial foods have a base of grain and fillers such as soy and various meals and byproducts. Many commercial foods contain artificial colors and flavors, a copious amount of sugar and salt to make it palatable and preservatives for a long shelf life. Many natural health advocates feel that these commercial foods, laden with ingredients the dogs would do better without, are contributing to many of the allergy and other autoimmune problems that are challenging our animal companions today. Many of these problems respond quickly to a switch from commercial foods (yes, even the “good” brands) to a raw, natural diet.
Over-vaccination can also trigger an inappropriate immune response, discuss your current vaccination protocol with your vet. Current research from Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine recommends re-vaccinating only every three years as opposed to the standard practice of annual re-vaccinations. The research has shown that if a dog receives their full series of puppy shots, they should have sufficient immunity for at least three years, possibly lifetime immunity. Titer tests are also available for checking immunity levels. Blood is drawn and sent to a lab where it is screened for sufficient levels of immunity.
As well as finding a food that does not trigger or exacerbate an allergic response, supplements can also help in treatment of allergies. Vitamins C and Omega 3 Fatty Acids are two of the more common supplements often recommended, as they provide a natural antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect. Additionally, MSM (methylsufonylmethane) and Shark Cartilage have helped many dogs with Allergy symptoms due to their anti-inflammatory compounds. Our retired racers certainly benefit from these supplements given on a daily basis for arthritis and other joint issues. Try some for your allergy sufferers and they will receive the added benefit of assisting their mobility as they age! We have used Get Up & Go products for years with good success.
Lisa Walk, owner/herbalist
BS, CH, LMT
Herbs for Animals, LLC – Pet Massage & Herbal Therapies
Allergic Skin Disease
by Susan G Wynn, DVM
Allergies are the bane of many animal and human lives, and the signs, although variable depending on species, cause misery in a variety of ways. Atopy is a common allergy to pollens, grasses, house molds and a host of other allergens, and can affect both dogs and cats. These allergens can be inhaled, ingested, or sometimes absorbed through the
skin; the resultant hypersensitivity causes a variety of clinical signs that are attributable to itchiness (pruritis). These signs may appear in the spring or fall, or even year round, and, like human allergies, cannot be curedâ€”only controlled.
Atopy is usually inherited, and pets begin to show signs between six months and eight years of age. The most commonly affected breeds are terriers, Golden and Labrador retrievers, Schnauzers, Poodles, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, and bulldogs. You may see your dog exhibiting foot licking, face rubbing, leg chewing, armpit scratching, head shaking, tail biting, discharges from the eyes or nose, and even post nasal drip (which is sometimes described as wheezing, snorting , reverse sneezing or trouble breathing). Related problems may include skin and
ear infections and anal gland problems. Cats usually have small crusty lesions over part or all of the body, usually around the neck or over the back (Scott, et al, 1995).
Your pet’s treatment may vary according to the severity of the problem. The easiest, least expensive control measure is to switch your pet’s diet to a good quality natural food. Grocery store and even some premium brands may be composed of poor quality ingredients and contain preservatives, dyes, antibiotics (Markus, et al, 1989), and other chemicals that may contribute to overall ill-health or even be a source of allergic sensitivity in some animals (Parke and Lewis, 1992). Consider a high end chicken, turkey or lamb diet, available from pet stores, health food stores or your veterinarian. If one can improve overall health of the animal (and, therefore, of the skin), allergies and fleas will not usually cause such violent skin reactions.
Conventional veterinary recommendations for the treatment of atopy usually include fatty acid supplements, hypoallergenic shampoos and topical treatments (preferably oatmeal based), antihistamines, skin testing and allergy shots, and as a last resort, steroids . Allergy shots (or hyposensitization treatment) are effective approximately 50- 80% of the time (Scott, et al, 1995). Different antihistamines are usually tried until the one that best controls the itching is found (in my practice, we will usually try 3 different antihistamines to find the one that works best for an individual dog; cats are not usually treated with antihistamines as successfully). Topical medications can be used to soothe hot spots and ear infections. Antibiotics and antifungals are used to control secondary bacterial and Malassezia (yeast) infections.
Holistic alternatives to these treatments will not only increase the health of the pet, but allow you to use fewer conventional drugs. In addition to a superior natural diet, some nutritional supplements may prove helpful. A basic veterinary vitamin-mineral supplement is a must, to start with. High doses of Vitamin C may have an antihistamine-like effect (Johnston, et al, 1992). Some veterinarians have found a combination of antioxidant elements to be helpful; these include ÃŸ-carotene (or Vitamin A, in the case of a cat), Vitamin E, and selenium. Other antioxidants, such as quercetin, are used in human allergies. Antioxidants are best used in a broad combination, since most depend on the presence of the others for best action.
A fatty acid supplement is vital. A high quality fish oil is best, since it supplies the highest levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Flax seed oil is a good second choice as it is not converted to these fatty acids, but may still be helpful. Other vegetable oils, such as safflower oil, sunflower oil or even commercial products such as DermCaps, contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids (which are not good for hounds) and will not control itching as well. Herbal treatments may help decrease itching. Chinese herbs are quite effective in some cases, but should be prescribed according to Traditional Chinese Medical principles by a trained practitioner (Bensky and Gamble, 1993). Western herbs that are occasionally helpful might include yellow dock, burdock, nettles, cleavers, chickweed and various tonics, as well as specific antimicrobial and immunostimulant herbs, depending on the presence of concurrent infections. Calendula may help relieve irritated hot spots (Weiss, 1994; Tyler, 1994; Moore, 1994). Even black tea (such as Lipton) can help calm hot spots.
Other treatments that may be useful for skin allergies include homeopathy, acupuncture, and more. A new treatment used in some practices is NAET (Nambrudripad’s Allergy Eliminaton Technique).
Managing allergies requires acute powers of observation. When people feel allergies coming on, they start treatment with antihistamines well before they become extremely uncomfortable or have already developed a raging sinus infection. You must be your pet’s “watchdog” treatment should begin with the onset of the most subtle signs of itchiness; for example, when a dog begins to lick the feet or scratch the ears. Starting fish oil treatment at the beginning of allergy season is an even better idea. Don’t forget the value of simply washing a dog’s feet after s/he comes in from a romp in the grass.
Diligent preventive treatment at this point can ensure that your pet will not develop the serious secondary problems like skin and ear infections. It is vital to work with a holistic veterinarian in administering alternative therapies to ensure that your pet is getting correct dosages and the treatment that is most appropriate for him or her. Bibliography
D Bensky and A Gamble (1993). Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia
Medica. Eastland Press, Seattle, WA