Allergies and Food sensitivities: Symptoms and Treatment. Read on or download a free copy of our fact sheet here.
Have you heard someone tell you that their dog or cat has allergies?
Has your veterinarian suggested that allergies could be a problem for your pet?
Do you suspect that your dog has allergies?
If so, then you’ve probably realised that allergies in dogs are not quite as simple as we might wish.
Allergies are a sign your dog’s immune system is struggling to regulate itself. When your dog’s immune system and gut is out of whack, it can react to substances (like fleas, food or grass) that it shouldn’t.
So, improving your pet’s gut and immune system is an essential part of resolving allergies.
There are many pharmaceutical options on the market that promise quick results, but the ensuing side effects can be worse than the allergic condition they are intended to treat.
Dr. Bessent, founder of Herbsmith, Inc., says there is an alternative way to address problems like these. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a more natural, holistic approach to veterinary care, has proven to be successful for thousands of years.
“Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches us that allergies, like all medical conditions, are symptoms of an underlying disharmony within the body,” Dr. Bessent says. “To effectively treat the problem, you must first address the underlying disharmony that is causing the allergy to occur.”
What is an allergy?
An allergy is a hypersensitive reaction to an allergen (from a food or an inhalant). 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. TCM states that the combination of warm (the heat of allergies) and cool (the dog’s body temperature) often creates a condition of “wind” within the body, which is what often causes fiercely itchy skin.
Any imbalance within the body can be explained using the model of “yin and yang”, which is at the base of all TCM theory. Yin and yang both exist within the body at all times.
Another way that allergies can affect a dog’s body is through the accumulation of phlegm. All of these symptoms (heat, phlegm, and wind) stem from an imbalance in the dog’s liver, referred to as “Liver Qi stagnation”.
According to TCM, the liver is the organ responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), which is the body’s overall life-force.
The liver acts as a “pump” to produce the smooth flow of energy throughout the entire body. When that pump “overheats” as a result of an allergic reaction, the vital fluids within the body evaporate and phlegm starts to accumulate. The accumulation of phlegm causes the dog’s coat to give off a foul odour and become greasy or gooey.
Types of allergies in pet’s
The two most common allergies found among dogs are to foods and inhalants. Each of these allergy types affects a dog differently, but they can be addressed using the same theories. There are some very simple steps that can be taken to decrease the severity of your dog’s reaction.
First, let’s look at the three main causes of skin allergies in dogs:
- Flea allergy dermatitis 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.
- Food allergies and sensitivities can cause itchy skin, as well. The most common places dogs with food allergies itch are their ears and their paws, and this may be accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms. True food allergies may not be as common as people think, according to AKC Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein.
True food allergies result in an immune response, which can range in symptoms from skin conditions (hives, facial swelling, itchiness), gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and/or diarrhoea) or a combination of both. In some rare cases, a severe reaction resulting in anaphylaxis can occur—similar to severe peanut allergies in humans
But what about all of those dogs that are on special hypoallergenic dog food diets?
What most people mean when they say that their dog has a food allergy is that their dog has a food sensitivity, also known as a food intolerance. Food sensitivities, unlike true allergies, do not involve an immune response and are instead a gradual reaction to an offending ingredient in your dog’s food, for example to corn, wheat, soy, milk, eggs beef or chicken. Instead of dealing with the problem head on, feeding your pet ‘special hypoallergenic dog foods' simply masks the problem. The key is getting to the source and healing your pet through supporting and healing the gut and feeding your pet species appropriate foods.
- Environmental allergens occur when dogs breathe in particles such as mould, dust mites, dander, and pollens of grasses and trees which can result in painful, itchy skin irritations.
“We could inhale the same pollens and not have any reaction, but allergic dogs have a propensity to develop hypersensitivity causing their whole bodies to become inflamed,” Dr. Bessent says.
“This disharmony is a result of too much heat and inflammation”, such as dust, pollen, and mould, can cause an atopic allergic reactions or atopic dermatitis.
In most cases, these allergies are seasonal, so you may only notice your dog itching during certain times of the year. As with food allergies, the most commonly affected areas are the paws and ears (but also include the wrists, ankles, muzzle, underarms, groin, around the eyes, and in between the toes).
Western medicine looks solely at physical allergy symptoms such as itching, scratching and lesions, whereas TCM also recognises the less obvious symptoms such as restlessness, irritability and panting. All of these signs indicate an allergic reaction, which reveals the underlying issue of Liver Qi stagnation (sluggish liver).
Be it a food allergy, skin allergy, environmental allergy, or seasonal allergy, your furry friend will be able to get rid of those troublesome allergic symptoms in no time given the right diagnosis, treatment, and care.
As with ALL underlying diseases, Diet is the key
Both Hippocrates (“you are what you eat) and Traditional Chinese medicine (“food is like a medicine”) advocate; “Diet is the starting ground to good health”. What your dog eats will contribute to either a healthy or unhealthy gut and immune system.
A healthy gut and immune system are paramount to keeping allergies and other diseases away from your pet. If you suspect your pet has a leaky gut or poor immune system, then work to heal these organs to give your dog long term relief from allergies.
A good starting point would be to fix the Leaky Gut caused by a poor diet and chemicals. There is no question that a poor diet causes allergies so it stands to reason that your dog would have a leaky gut. So, what is leaky gut? It means your dog's intestines have holes and are leaking. Why are they leaking? Because the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract has been damaged.
How did it get damaged?
What the lining of your dog's intestines is meant to do is:
- protect him from harmful stuff leaking into the bloodstream
- let helpful beneficial nutrients pass through into the bloodstream
So, if the bad stuff is meant to leave the body and good stuff is meant to go further into the body, what went wrong?
Let's talk about dysbiosis and what causes it. When the normal balance of something is thrown out of whack, that's called dysbiosis. So when the normal balance of gut flora in the intestines is thrown out of whack by: antibiotics, or drugs such as steroids and nsaids ( non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ), pesticide chemicals for flea/tick/heartworm control, poor dog nutrition from processed dog food containing inappropriate ingredients such as grains, starches, colour and preservatives, pathogens from viruses, bacteria’s and fungi such as candida albicans, vaccines stimulate GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue), stress and parasites such as giardia.
That's called intestinal dysbiosis! If this unbalanced, out of whack condition in the intestinal environment is allowed to continue, it will damage the lining of the intestines by creating holes. This makes the lining permeable (leaky) thus the name, Leaky Gut Syndrome. Got it?
So, now you know what's really to blame. Your dog's leaky guts are the real reason dogs have digestives problems such as gas, bloating, vomiting and diarrhea are usually the first signs of dysbiosis, bowel problems such as diarrhoea, constipation and anal gland problems, inflammatory bowel disease, skin problems, ear problems, immune system problems, auto immune system problems, respiratory ( breathing), bladder inflammation, liver problems. The list is endless actually!
Did I hear you ask how can you repair your dog's leaky gut? Stop doing what's causing it and use holistic natural alternatives instead.
Improving your pet’s gut and immune system is an essential part of resolving allergies. The long-term effects of not taking action can result in your pet not having anything to eat as you continuously remove the offending foods.
By avoiding the top causes of leaky gut, you can help prevent this cycle.
The way forward and starting ground for optimal nutrition and gut health is by feeding your dog a fresh, raw grass-fed or organic diet including bone broth. Feeding your pet a high-quality bone broth such as Dishy Dogs range of bone broths goes a long way to repairing the Leaky Gut.
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 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.
Assist your pet to digest food by adding digestive enzymes. 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, and a sensitive stomach.
Here are a few 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 and can trigger allergic reactions over time.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates (both wheat and grain-free kibble/dry food), dogs and cats were not designed to eat processed foods;
- Avoid sugar and starches, they contribute to an unhealthy gut;
- 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 such as Dishy Dogs Amber necklace, other than chemical medications.
- Increase the fatty acids in your pet’s diet to help boost their immune system and reduce the occurrence of allergic reactions. Good high-quality omegas such as Dishy Dogs Omega Pet does wonders in reducing allergies.
- Be proactive in keeping your pet’s liver healthy. Choose to give your pet a natural high-quality liver tonic regularly, such as Dishy Dogs Liver Pet to support the liver to break down and eliminate the many pollutants and toxins they are exposed to on a regular basis, as well as reducing the risk of damage to this powerful organ.
- 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.
- Add digestive enzymes to your pet’s meal to support digestion and the reduction and elimination of allergies, food intolerance and a sensitive stomach.
- If your dog gets ear infections due to allergies, try cleaning its ear with diluted white vinegar or a high-quality ear cleaner such as Dishy Dogs Ears and Eyes formula (boasts antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties).
- Make an apple cider vinegar spray with raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and an equal amount of water or colloidal silver (boasts antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties), which can help with skin irritation (caused by allergens) and inflammation (caused by excessive scratching) into a spray bottle. Shake well to mix the ingredients. 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 stainless-steel, glass, or ceramic food bowls and keep them meticulously clean.
- Wipe your dog down with a wet towel after it comes 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.
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 and additive free with no added salt, sugar, flavour or colour.