When local allergens find their way into the body, they sometimes trigger an unnecessarily aggravated immune response. It is important to realize that an allergic reaction is simply this, an immune system over-response. Most mainstream treatments rely on the use of antihistamines and corticosteroids, drugs that suppress the immune system. While this can rid the body of symptoms for some time, the underlying cause isn’t at all addressed or treated. It is also the opinion of many in the holistic field that these drugs can actually act to further complicate the reason for the body’s allergic reactions.
15-20% of dogs suffer from allergies. Antagonists for your pet’s allergies fall into two categories: food and environmental. Here are some helpful descriptions to help you identify which category your pet is dealing with:
- Year round symptoms usually mean that allergies are food based
- Loose stools or vomiting are a tell tale sign of food based allergies
- Allergenic sources of carbohydrates for dogs include, but are not limited to, corn, wheat, rice, barley and oatmeal
- It is important to note that if the allergens come from a source indoors, symptoms CAN show year round
- IF the allergens come from a source outdoors, symptoms may ebb and flow depending on the season
- Consider whether or not your pet is subject to frequent or regular vaccinations, which are designed to induce an immune response
- Consider the quality of your pet’s drinking water
- Consider the quality of air your pet spends time in
- Do you use non-toxic household cleaners?
- Do you have an air purifier you could run near where your pet sleeps?
- What pesticides/fertilizers are present where your dog has the freedom to roam?
Most problematic allergies in pets are caused by poor nutrition. Let’s take a look at nutrition with respect to food based allergies. It is popular opinion among holistic practitioners that switching to a raw diet is the single most important thing you can do for your pet. Raw food contains species appropriate levels of enzymes and probiotics that will improve digestion and activity of healthy intestinal bacteria. Dogs and cats are designed to eat a diversified diet, so rotating protein sources is strongly recommended.
Focus should be directed to identifying what substance is causing an immune over-reaction and why the body is reacting so inappropriately. Identifying the substance that is causing a food allergy is best accomplished by removing ingredients from the diet one at a time. Begin by switching the meat (protein source), especially if it’s beef. Next, weed out grains, starting with soy, then wheat, then yeast. This process will allow you to isolate the source of allergic reaction. Diet related allergies can be slow to reverse, so be patient and let your pet’s body adjust to the changes.
After identifying the substance causing the reaction, it is still important to address the fact the immune system is OVER-reacting to it. The holistic approach in this respect is to help modulate immune activity. Immune modulation (or immune balance) is achieved through diet and, if necessary, supplementation. As mentioned earlier, switching your pet to a raw diet is our strongest recommendation, however supplementation is still a good idea. Probiotics, digestive enzymes, and multivitamins are a strong base for a healthy pet. Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin E are especially important when treating skin allergies. When a pet is recovering, however, some high antioxidant, immune modulating (ADAPTOGENIC), antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and insecticidal herbs are very effective in restoring the body to a state of capability to deal with present and future allergen invasions. Here is a list of herbs and medicinal mushrooms that come highly recommended for these purposes and have plenty of documented effectiveness behind them:
- Asragalus (antioxidant, adaptogen)
- Ginseng (adaptogen)
- Echinacea (adaptogen)
- Reishi (adaptogen, antihistamine)
- Feverfew (antihistamine, anti-inflammatory)
- Licorice (anti-inflammatory)
- Oxeye Daisy (antihistamine, insecticidal)
- Cat’s Claw (anti-inflammatory)
- Goldenseal (mucosal anti-inflammatory)
- Chamomile – used in a cool water infusion for contact allergies
- Antimicrobial rinse
- For conjunctivitis (from airborne allergens)
- Applied liberally many times daily as eyewash
- Nettle – skin and coat rinse for itchy skin and flea bites
Allergies that develop from an environmental source will require much observation. Is your pet hypersensitive to fleabites? Does your pet get frequent vaccinations? Is your pet subject to toxic substances? Consider switching, if you havn’t already, to a natural flea and tick prevention as apposed to the harsh chemicals that are in most commercial products. Consider taking as much consideration for your pet as you would for yourself with regard to drinking water and air purifiers. Purified water would be a good step as well as switching to glass, ceramic, or stainless steal dishes. Skin allergies can be helped by bathing, hypoallergenic covers, and washing bed covers in hot water on a weekly basis to rid them of fleas and other hazards. If treating itchy spots on your pet, consider the above “external use” recommendations as well as calendula-hypericum lotion and diluted witch hazel spray.
This is a lot of information! There is, however, much more. If you have any questions or desire to know more, please contact your Thomas’ Tails Staff. 1-815-477-1002 or firstname.lastname@example.org