by Dr. Andrew Jones
Dog allergies are one of the most common conditions affecting dogs. Dog allergies can be very frustrating for both yourself and your dog. The constant itching and scratching, paw licking and chewing, skin rashes or chronic ear infections can make life very unpleasant.
Dogs allergies become noticeable when your dog’s immune system reacts excessively to substances (called allergens or antigens) to which she has been exposed. Generally, allergies show up in three ways. The most common is with the skin – your dog will itch and scratch either in one area or all over, or you will see skin sores or lesions. Another way involves the respiratory system and your dog may cough, sneeze, and/or wheeze, and there may be an associated nasal or eye discharge. A third type of allergic reaction involves the digestive system, when your dog vomits or has diarrhea.
There are several types of dog allergies. Conventionally, Veterinarians focus on five different types, but I have grouped them into three areas – these are the most common allergies you will see with your dog. The first is external allergies, and these include flea allergies; the second allergy group is with food; and the third is environmental, and this includes inhalant, from allergens such as pollens and house dust mites.
Dog allergies can be difficult to diagnose. Many of the symptoms you may see can be a result of allergies or of another illness. It is best to get your pet examined by your Veterinarian first, before trying any home or alternative treatments.
If you know or suspect your dog has an allergy, you do have options. There are conventional ways to treat allergies that your Veterinarian will discuss, but I would like to focus on alternative methods in this article. In my book, Veterinary Secrets Revealed (available at veterinarysecretsrevealed . com), I focus on alternative home treatments for dogs and cats. Here are a few of the solutions you can try at home that I recommend for dog allergies.
For Fleas – here is an obvious solution: eliminate the Fleas! Practice regular flea-control. Two natural ways to battle fleas include using aromatic herbs, such as Pennyroyal and Catnip, and Chinchilla Dust (“diatomaceous earth” – but make sure this is the type meant for pets).
If you suspect that your pet is allergic to something in their diet, the first step is to stop all traditional treats (i.e. – milk bones) and table scraps. If your dog is still reacting after 3 weeks, then she may be allergic to her regular food. At this point, try the elimination diet. This means chancing your dog’s food to an entirely different type which she has never eaten before.
The most important part is a unique protein source. There are a number of commercially available allergy diets for pets – one that I prefer for dogs is Fish and Potato. For cats, it can be more difficult, but one I have had luck with has duck as the protein source. The difficulty is that your dog can be allergic to anything in the food. Regardless, I highly advocate a more natural, simple diet that is naturally preserved, or a home-made diet. See my book or join my membership site, TheOnlineVet.com, for a choice of allergy diets.
Whatever food you choose, it must be fed for 12 weeks. If after 12 weeks your pet it still scratching, then she probably doesn’t have a food allergy.
With environmental allergies, dogs can react in a way that is very similar way that we as humans do. One way to help deal with an allergy to pollen and/or house dust mites is to purchase an air purifier for your home.
For itchy skin, try an oatmeal shampoo bath with cool water – this can ease the itchiest skin. Leave the shampoo on for 10 minutes then rinse well. With the most severe allergies, bathe your pet twice weekly. Also, Calendula ointment (herbal medication) has been successfully used to relieve the itch. Apply a thin coat twice daily to affected areas.
There are many herbal solutions for allergies. Phytopica, a combination of 10 different Chinese herbs, has been shown to be effective in scientific studies in decreasing the severity of itching. Xiao Feng San is a common Chinese herbal combination useful for atopic dermatitis (allergy to inhalants). The dose is 1/8 of a teaspoon per 10lbs of body weight daily.
I hope you have found this article helpful. If you would like natural, holistic solutions for many common dog or cat health problems, visit my site at Veterinary Secrets Revealed.
To your pet’s good health…
Image Credit: Janet Goulden