What are Seasonal Allergies?
Today we are going to discuss seasonal allergies in your dog or cat. First, let’s clear up something up–what is the difference between seasonal and environmental allergies?
Environmental allergies refer to the fact that dogs can react negatively to anything in their environment including pollens, grasses, laundry detergent, floor cleaners, fertilizers, etc. Seasonal allergies should actually be called seasonal environmental allergies because the animal is just reacting to something (generally something found outside like grass or pollen) in their environment seasonally.
Signs of Environmental Allergies
- Chewing at paws and/or rest of body
- Hot Spots
- Runny eyes and/or nose
- Frequent ear infections
- Redness on paws, belly, ears, etc
- Swollen nose or paws
- Hair loss
The standard advice for treating environmental allergies in pets is to use steroids, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or to treat with an antihistamine, like Benadryl, as needed. While there are certainly many problems with using drugs like this (see this article for more info), they are often not even necessary when more efficient and natural treatments are possible. Conventional allergy treatments work to block the immune system from doing its job. Although this approach can help provide temporary relief from the allergy symptoms the real issue–the dog’s overworked immune system– is never addressed.
The gastrointestinal tract is responsible for more than 70% of the body’s immune system. Therefore it is essential to keep the microbiome of bacteria healthy and functioning optimally. When this balance is disrupted (via toxin overload, poor diet, and the use of antibiotics), it is called dysbiosis or “leaky gut.” There is a whole article coming up on Leaky Gut soon, but for now, the basic premise is as follows. When the lining of the GI tract becomes damaged, it allows undigested food particles and potentially toxic organisms to pass into the bloodstream causing the immune system to go into hyperdrive and to overreact to everyday environmental exposures.
The first step in treating environmental allergies is to reduce your pet’s toxin load. This means, eliminating any unnecessary vaccinations (titer test instead), chemical-based dewormers or flea and tick treatments, and replacing cleaning products and other potential household toxins with more natural alternatives. Food is also a factor when considering the toxin load, feed the best food you can afford to your pet and include whole fresh foods as much as possible. Next, it is essential to build the immune system back up and increase the number of good bacteria in your pet’s GI tract. Another option is to start getting some probiotics into your pet via powdered probiotics, raw goat’s milk, or Keifer, to name just a few options.
Another more basic option is to use irrigation therapy (aka bathing) to physically remove the allergens from your pet’s fur after exposure. Note, this will be most beneficial if your pet suffers from a pollen-based allergy. There is also a multitude of homeopathic treatments which can help remedy the allergies including Arsenicum, Natrum muriaticum, Allium cepa, and Nux Vomica.
Supplementation can also be beneficial in treating allergies. Some options include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids (if appropriately sourced) reduce inflammation in the body. Feed whole fish like herring or give phytoplankton
- Quercitin is a bioflavonoid and will function similar to an antihistamine like Benedryl for symptomatic relief
- Vitamin C can also be beneficial because it stabilizes mast cells which are responsible for releasing histamines into the body and is an overall immune system booster. Feed whole foods rich in Vitamin C such as bell peppers, kale, parsley, etc
Treating environmental allergies through the gut is not always a quick fix, but the results can be truly incredible.
Woofs & Wags,
The Holistic Pet Radio Pack
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