Allergies and Food sensitivities: Symptoms and Treatment. Read on or download a free copy of our fact sheet here.
Allergies are common in dogs. About 1-2% of all dogs have a food allergy, and as many as 25% of dogs with skin problems have a food allergy.
When you throw in dogs with inhalant or environmental allergens (like pollen or mould) and flea allergies, you’re looking at a sizeable portion of the canine population that is suffering from allergies.
Please note: A yeast infection is NOT an allergy, though your pet could be allergic to yeast. For information on yeast infections, read our Yeast fact sheet.
Dogs, like all other animals, have a complex liver and immune system to keep their bodies healthy, balanced and free of disease. Allergies are a sign your dog’s liver and immune system is struggling to regulate itself. When your dog’s liver, immune system and gut is out of whack, it can react to substances (like fleas, food or grass) that it ordinarily would not.
Viruses or allergen particles can enter the body through various pathways. This can include through inhalation, consumption, through the skin, or via mucous areas such as the eyes or nose.
In response, the body produces white blood cells and antibodies to eliminate the pathogens. These allergens cause the body’s defences to overreact, which leads to the overheating of a dog’s body. Some of the associated symptoms include itchy and reddened skin, panting, and restlessness.
However, this reaction can sometimes get out of control when the body encounters particles that aren’t actually harmful. Particles such as pollen, dust, or certain foods can trigger an allergic reaction of the immune system and are known as allergens or antigens.
A dog allergy can take a number of different forms, depending on the predisposed weakness your dog may have, the allergens in question, and how and where it is encountered. Generally, allergic reactions will fit into one of the following categories:
- flea allergy dermatitis (FAD): is an allergic reaction to fleabites. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva. This makes affected dogs extremely itchy, especially at the base of the tail, and their skin may become red, inflamed, and scabbed. You may also notice signs of fleas, such as flea dirt, or even see the fleas themselves. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) is most common in the summer months or any prolonged period of warm weather. Reactions occur when fleas bite and inject saliva into their host. Flea saliva contain compounds similar to histamine, enzymes. polypeptides, and amino acids.
seasonal allergies: Just like humans, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies as well, and they are not fun. Here are some signs your dog may have season allergies:
- irritated skin such as rashes and hives,
- hair loss. this is common under continued exposure to an allergen,
- puffy, red eyes, and
allergies caused by food. Food allergies are quite common in dogs, especially allergies to human foods. According to some vets, 10% of all dog allergy cases are related to food. Dogs can develop a food allergy or food hypersensitivity at any age (even as a puppy), and to any carbohydrate or protein component of their food. Symptoms can range from:
- ear inflammation, and
- gastrointestinal problems to itching, vomiting, and nausea.
Unfortunately, the range of foods a dog can be allergic to is extremely broad. The following foods are high on the list:
- wheat (dogs actually have difficulty digesting wheat as they do not produce the digestive enzymes (cellulase) to break down starches and wheat also feeds viruses),
- dairy feeds viruses. It is wise to eliminate all dairy from your dog’s diet including cheese, yoghurt, milk and dairy based probiotics.
- soy is a GMO and is difficult for your pet to digest,
- synthetic vitamins and minerals found in dry food/kibble,
- dog food such as kibble. If your dog is getting an allergic reaction from their dog food, it’s usually from a specific ingredient (or multiple). Kibble is highly processed and contains cancer-causing moulds called mycotoxins. It worth noting, your dog has difficulty digesting kibble as your dog does not produce the appropriate digestive enzyme (cellulase) to digest starches. For more information on digestive enzymes read our fact sheet on Gastrointestinal Disorders, and
- some proteins such as pork, chicken etc.
airborne allergens also called atopy, can be caused by dust, pollen, mould, or other inhalants. Symptoms can include:
- licking, and/or scratching all over their body, and
- respiratory issues (sometimes).
It’s tough to determine whether the reaction is caused by an airborne allergen or something else. You need to be able to rule out other allergies that can cause similar reactions, like flea allergy dermatitis and food allergies.
Keep a log of when this reaction tends to occur. If it coincides with Spring, for example, this is an indication your dog may be allergic to inhalants.
- environmental allergies: your dog probably loves being outside. But their love of running through bushes and rolling in the grass can potentially expose them to additional allergens. Environmental allergies include plants and other environmental agents that could cause an allergic reaction if your dog comes into contact with them. These environmental irritants can include:
- male juniper bushes,
- daylily plants, and
These plants can cause allergic reactions that result in itching, scratching, and sneezing.
- home allergies: There are many substances around your home could be problematic for your dog. In fact, many home allergy causing agents are toxic to your dog’s liver. Overtime, your pet’s liver becomes sluggish and fatty caused numerous diseases including allergies to creep into your pet’s body. The following are some examples:
- cigarette smoke,
- dust and dust mites,
- cleaning products,
- fabrics and fabric cleaners,
- plug in air fresheners, and
- spray on disinfectants, such as Glen 20.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to figure out which substance is causing the reaction. If you can, try to pay attention to exactly when your dog experiences symptoms and what they might have come into contact with shortly beforehand, including what they might have inhaled. This will help you narrow it down.
Prescription drugs: Allergies are very unpredictable, but they may be most unpredictable when giving your dog something that is supposed to help them. Prescribing drugs is a common practice for treating a range of pet-related ailments. However, sometimes your dog may react badly to the drug itself or an ingredient within. For example, while rare in pets, anaphylaxis (or anaphylactic shock) can occur as a result of taking prescription medication this can include vaccines and flea, tick and heartworm medications. It causes:
- trouble breathing,
- low blood pressure, and
- potentially death if not treated ASAP.
Other less severe symptoms of drug allergies can include:
- hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, loss of appetite, lethargy, and respiratory changes.
- Medicated shampoo: Some dogs can have allergic reactions to medicated shampoo. These shampoos can be made of ingredients that cause the immune system to release histamine that leads to skin irritation and more severe reactions. Instead, use a natural shampoo such as Dishy Dogs Pamper Pooch as it includes the healing power of colostrum.
Shampoo reactions tend to happen shortly after exposure and increase in intensity the longer the dog is exposed (or with repeated exposure).Symptoms can include hives, itching, bald patches, lesions, and swelling.
Now, let us take a look at some simple cost-effective solutions for healing: Each of the above allergy types affects a dog differently, but they can be addressed using the same methods. The key areas that require support in order to heal and to decrease the severity of your dog’s reaction are as follows:
- diet, that is what you feed your pet. As with ALL underlying disease, diet is the key. “Diet is the starting ground to good health”. What your dog eats will contribute to either a healthy or unhealthy liver, gut and immune system. There is no question that a poor diet causes allergies therefore, feeding your dog a biologically appropriate diet is the first step in your pet’s healing regime. Your dog will thrive on a fresh, raw grass-fed or organic diet.
- support/heal your pet’s liver. Nearly every challenge, from pesky general health complaints to digestive issues to emotional struggles to weight gain to high blood pressure to heart problems to brain fog to allergies to skin conditions to autoimmune to cancer and other chronic illnesses, has an origin in an overloaded liver. So, it stands to reason that supporting and working to heal your pet’s liver with a high potency liver tonic such as Dishy Dogs Liver Pet is a must. For more information on the liver, read our Liver Rescue fact sheet.
- good gut health is paramount to paramount to keeping allergies and other diseases away from your pet. There are two (2) components to good gut health:
- Repopulate and repair your dog's gut microbiome with natural remedies such as a probiotic. Under natural conditions dogs, as well as humans, develop and retain populations of “good” gut microflora that provide adequate protection against a variety of diseases. However, dogs and other domesticated animals now live under unnatural conditions and are constantly bombarded with unnatural substances, from food additives to pollution to antibiotics, that disrupt the normal bacterial composition of their intestines. This is where supplementing your dog’s diet with high-quality probiotics such as Dishy Dogs Probiotic Pet can make all the difference in the world between living with a chronically ill dog and living with a healthy, active, happy dog.
- Support digestive health: Digestive enzymes provide essential enzymes to assist in the breakdown of food for optimal utilisation of nutrients, digestion, toxin elimination and for enzyme deficiency. Digestive enzyme supplementation substantially increases digestion in the lumen of the small intestine, and improves the bioavailability of proteins and carbohydrates. Digestive enzymes such as Dishy Dogs Digestit Pet will greatly benefit pets with allergies, food intolerances, a sensitive stomach and yeast infections (read our fact sheet on Yeast Infections). For more information of digestive enzymes read our fact sheet on Gastrointestinal Disorders.
- Support the immune system by adding Omega fatty acids (natural anti-inflammatory) to your pet’s healing regime and to give your pet long term relief from allergies. Fats are one of THE most important ingredients in your dog’s diet. In fact, fatty acids are essential for maintaining the immune system, in particular, it contributes to cell function, cell membrane structure, immune function, the health of your pet’s skin and coat, normal reproduction, and even the growth of your Omega fatty acids such as Dishy Dogs Omega Pet boosts your pet’s immune system, decreases irritation and itching, improves skin and coat, and reduces the effects of allergies, improves joint function, and controls inflammation.
- remove heavy metals. Heavy metal poisoning is sadly becoming much more commonplace in our pets but very few health issues are correctly related back to an animal's exposure to heavy metals. Toxic heavy metals alone or in combination with a virus cause a plethora of chronic illnesses, symptoms, and conditions. Anything from allergies, skin disorders, gut, arthritis, yeast, neurological disorders such as seizures and more serious diseases such as cancer. So, it’s worth pulling out toxic heavy metals with a high potency heavy metal detoxify such as Dishy Dogs Detox Pet if we want to spare ourselves and our beloved pet’s the tumult and heartbreak of their long-term effect on their health. For more information on Heavy Metals, read our Heavy Metals fact sheet.
Here are some further tips to reduce and even prevent the occurrence of allergic reactions in dogs:
Reduce chemical overload in your pet, as this breaks down the gut and immune system, giving way to allergies and other diseases.
Avoid processed foods, such as grain-based foods (kibble/dry food) with wheat, rice, spelt, oats, barley, rye, lectin from unsprouted grains and soy; food additives and preservatives, they contribute to an unhealthy gut, can trigger allergic reactions over time AND can cause yeast infections.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates (both wheat and grain-free kibble/dry food), dogs and cats were not designed to eat processed foods AND they can cause yeast infections in your pet;
- Avoid sugar and starches, they contribute to an unhealthy gut and yeast infections;
- Choose instead to feed your dog a fresh, raw and grass-fed or organic diet for optimal nutrition and gut health.
- Take effective measures to manage fleas. There are natural solutions to flea prevention other than chemical medications, such as Dishy Dogs Amber necklace.
- Add zinc (as liquid zinc sulfate) ¼ dropper full to your pet’s food on a daily basis. Zinc is critical for liver health, autoimmune conditions, adrenal problems, allergies, arthritis, cancer, skin disorders, brain fog, diabetes, fatigue, heart palpitations, hepatitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, SIBO, sinus infections, weight issues, vertigo, tinnitus, GME, seizures, lupus, lyme disease, thyroid problems, Epstein-Barr, IBD/IBS, UTIs, candida, and every other symptom and condition;
- Add selenium one (1) to two (2) drops per week. In addition to decreasing oxidative stress, selenium may help lower the risk of certain cancers. This has been attributed to selenium’s ability to reduce DNA damage and oxidative stress, boost your pet’s immune system, and destroy cancer cells.
- Boost your pet’s immune system. The immune-boosting effects of colostrum are well-studied and these effects are now being used extensively in adult dog populations to improve their immune system function, reducing and preventing the effects of allergies, joint pain and other diseases. Colostrum such as Dishy Dogs Colostrum Pet can help heal your pet’s body at the cellular level and prevent the onset of disease. Colostrum is one of the most potent natural antibiotics and is one of nature’s foremost bio-active rich foods and one of the greatest natural sources of growth and healing factors. For more information on Colostrum, read Dishy Dogs Colostrum fact sheet.
- Give your dog a daily dose of multivitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as Dishy Dogs Vitamin Pet. Vitamins and antioxidants are essential for fighting disease and optimising your pet’s health.
- If your dog gets ear infections due to allergies and yeast, try cleaning its ear with a saline (salt + water) or a high-quality ear cleaner such as Dishy Dogs Ears and Eyes formula (boasts antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties).
- Make a colloidal silver spray (boasts antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties), which can help with skin irritation (caused by allergens) and inflammation (caused by excessive scratching). Spray the solution all over your dog’s skin, and allow it to dry on its own. Use this remedy 1 or 2 times a day.
- Get rid of plastic bowls used for serving food and water to pets as they can absorb and hold bacteria and other allergy-causing agents, despite being cleaned often. Replace plastic with glass or ceramic food bowls and keep them meticulously clean.
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables that give great antioxidant, carotenoid and liver support such as:
- sprouts (clover, kale, broccoli or radish). Sprouts are very easy and fun to grow at home;
- leafy greens such as spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, celery, brussel sprouts and asparagus;
- fruits such as apples, bananas, mangos, blueberries, watermelon and pears;
- lemons (juice) you can add a small amount to your pet’s water (5ml);
- Wipe your dog down with a wet towel after coming in from outside.
- Avoid allergy triggers as much as possible.
- Plan your daily walk at a time when the pollen count is low, if possible.
- Keep your home free of environmental allergens. Refer to the home allergies section of this fact sheet.
In case of severe or persistent symptoms, it is best to seek medical attention.
PLEASE NOTE: do NOT give your pet the following foods:
- apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is toxic to the liver;
- fermented vegetables are dead foods and the vinegar in the fermented vegetables is harsh on the liver;
- raw or cooked liver. Whilst there are many vitamins and minerals in a healthy liver the truth is, the liver of all animals is loaded with toxins.
In case of severe or persistent symptoms, it is best to seek medical attention.
Dishy Dogs is certified “Australian Made and Owned”. Our ingredients are 100% human grade, 100% preservative, dairy, gluten, egg and additive free with no added salt, sugar, flavour or colour.