Pet owners often have to struggle on how to treat their pet’s allergies quickly and efficiently. They may be able to eliminate symptoms of their pet’s allergy or allergies such as scratching and swollen paws but the symptoms may return after a few weeks or months and may even be worse than before. This not only costs them a lot of time going back and forth to their vet, but it is also very costly in terms of financial resources. Just imagine how much it costs to have your pet get checked-up then add to that the prescription drugs and diets that are supposed to treat your dog.
A part of the reason why pet owners do not find the “right” solution to this problem is that vets do not often educate their clients properly as to the root cause of these allergies. More often than not, you will find them saying that allergies are caused by “unknown” reasons and that it is incurable.
Right from the start, you are led to think that your pet’s allergies will have no end and that you have to deal with it throughout their lifetime. But is that actually the truth? There are a lot of medical conditions that doctors have deemed to be incurable but what do we say about those who have successfully recovered from them?
What are dog allergies?
Dog allergies are the adverse reactions of the immune system towards specific items that are harmful for the body. If you are going to take a good look at it, it is actually the body’s way of protecting its system against foreign items which can actually damage the body due to their “illegal” presence inside the bloodstream.
To understand this better, you need to know how the body actually works. A lot of allergies are caused by a poorly functioning immune and “filtering” system of the body. Since the immune system cannot function effectively, the other components of the body try to perform the job.
One of the main reasons for an allergy to occur is when the gut lining becomes highly permeable and even large chunks of undigested proteins go by. This can be either due to a poor structure brought about by poor nutrition or it could be due to some drugs that suppress the immune system functions. When this happens, large protein particles pass through the intestines without being properly digested and attached to antigens. These then interact with mast cells that produce histamines.
As you can see, the problem starts with a poor digestive system and immune system. Properly digested proteins are smaller and are not able to attach to immunoglobulin cells and are also recognized by mast cells.
When the body continually experiences these “leaked” proteins, it tends to recognize various types of proteins in the bloodstream to be a foreign object. This includes proteins from grains, saliva, pet dander, and other forms of allergens. Other vets will tell you that your pet is allergic to this or that but the root cause of the problem is your pet’s body systems.
Is your pet receiving proper nutrition to support a structurally sound digestive system? Is he overloaded with toxins in his body that his liver and kidneys are failing to eliminate them properly? These questions should be the starting point in any undertaking to treating dog allergies before applying any medication and treatment that will suppress your pet’s natural defenses.
What is the first step in treating dog allergies?
The first step in addressing any type of allergy is of course to assess your pet’s digestive and immune system performance. Are they at their best condition or is your pet suffering from a poorly functioning immune system or a leaky gut syndrome? It would be best if you can address these two things first as their proper functioning will help end whatever type of allergy your pet currently suffers from.
If you can cure these two systems first, you can be assured that your pet is going to recover. Here are some things that will help your pet overcome a poor digestive and immune system:
- Supplement your pet’s meals with enzymes that will help break down food. One of the main reasons why food remains partially undigested in their stomach is the lack of the needed enzymes to break them down. Proteins and carbohydrates both need specific enzymes to break them down to their basic components. Stomach acids also play an important role in the digestive process but without these enzymes, they will not be broken them into much smaller components which are amino acids and glucose.
- Add some probiotics to their food. Probiotics are composed of “good bacteria” which helps to control the number of bad bacteria in the intestines as well as digest food particles which remain undigested and prevent them from rotting in the gut. This helps to curb the growth of bad bacteria which is also present in the body and is also needed for biological processes.
- Introduce hydrolyzed proteins to their diets. These types of proteins are already “pre-digested” and come with separate amino acids already so your pet does not have to digest them. This way, the proteins are able to pass safely to mast cells and absorbed by the body as something of nutritional value and not as a foreign invader. Just because your pet’s allergies start out with protein, it does not mean that you have to eliminate them completely.
Remember that your pet needs them to maintain the integrity of their hair coat, muscles, and even their own immune system is dependent on it.
- Let them have sufficient physical exercise and exposure to the sun. Physical activity as well as sufficient sun exposure is important in maintaining a healthy digestive and immune system. Physical activity helps to stimulate the production of stomach acids and promote a healthy rate of elimination process. Sun exposure provides the needed vitamin that helps promote the health of gut bacteria.
- Provide a balanced diet. Most of the time, pet owners delegate the provision of a complete and balanced diet to commercially-bought dog food. But are these pet foods really healthy? Yes, they may state that they provide this much protein and vitamins and minerals to your pet but do they come in a form that can be absorbed by your pet’s intestines?
The processing of food in extremely high temperatures can turn these proteins into something not digestible and it also strips the food of its other essential nutrients such as oils, vitamins, minerals, phyto-chemicals, and other nutrients.
What other types of treatments are available for dog allergy?
A knowledgeable veterinarian will be able to prescribe the corresponding symptomatic treatment for your pet’s allergies together with the above-mentioned steps. It is important to provide a treatment regimen that will not only suppress the symptom but will also build-up your pet’s natural defenses as well. It is important to note that most conventional treatments only address the symptoms without addressing the root cause of the allergy.
If you’d like to know the process your dog may go through, please read our article on testing your dog for allergies.
This results to a worse condition than your dog has been before and this results to heavier dosage of medications and more expenses without really stopping the recurrence of the allergy. I am not saying that these symptomatic treatments are not helpful at all, they are. But they need to be used in conjunction with other treatments that will boost your pet’s immune system.
- Atopic or inhalant allergies – These are the types of allergies which are triggered by inhaling allergens such as pollens, dust mites, and molds. Conventional methods of treating atopic allergies include antihistamines and allergy shots. Steroids are also used for more severe cases although this is often used in another type of allergy. This type of allergy is usually categorized as seasonal as they only occur during seasons of high pollen count but it can also occur year-round if you have mites and molds at home.
The best solutions for this type include supplementing your pet’s diet with fatty acids such as fish oil in order to regulate inflammation. Cleaning the house more often and using pesticides on areas where your pet usually stays is another option.
- Contact allergies – These types of allergies are those which are caused by actual or physical contact with the allergen through their skin. It includes flea allergies and allergies to certain materials such as cotton or wool. There are certain breeds of dogs which are even allergic to other pets such as those that get allergic reactions to cat dander and even to their owner’s shed skin.
One of the more common types of contact allergies is grass, surprisingly enough. If you’d like to know what to look for, please read our details article on grass allergy in dogs.
Typical treatments include steroids (either topical, injection, or tablet), antihistamines, and bathing to eliminate the allergen. Take care not to bathe your dog in too much lemon or colloidal oatmeal: lemon has limonene which has been proven to toxic to pets in excessive amounts and oatmeal due to their sugar content which can attract bacteria if not washed off carefully. Hypo sensitization is also another treatment option although this does not really cure all dogs. In this method, a small amount of the allergen is added to a serum and injected to your dog in increasing amounts to desensitize the immune system response.
- Food allergies – This type of allergy is quite difficult to ascertain especially if you are feeding your dog a wide range of foods. It may also be that your dog is suffering an atopic allergy which can make diagnosis more difficult as the symptoms are almost the same. Your vet would be the only person to determine whether your dog has food allergies by conducting an allergy test or a blood serum test.
If the vet assesses that your dog has a food allergy, he will give you a more exotic diet for your pet which contains animal and plant proteins that your dog have not had before. Then, foods will gradually be added to determine which food your pet will produce an allergic reaction to.
To see what other useful treatments you can provide to your dog, here’s a great article on what you can provide to alleviate your dog’s allergy symptoms.
There are other methods of classifying dog allergies based on several categories and they include:
- The time it takes for the allergic reaction to occur,
- The type of immune system response i.e. Type I to IV hypersensitivity,
- Inherited form,
- Clinical symptoms.
Your vet will be able to tell you which classification your dog’s allergic reaction belongs to. They will also be able to recommend which treatment is the best given the circumstances such as when your dog is having an anaphylaxis or an adverse allergic reaction which include inflammation of the airways which leads to blocking of the throat, shock, and irregular heart beat.
Beware of using steroids as well and make use of them only in severe cases when your pet is scratching uncontrollably and is exhibiting swollen and infected wounds or skin lesions.
The basis of your pet’s resistance to allergic reactions depends on their overall health most especially on their digestive and gut health. If these organs are working properly, then the triggering factors which are the undigested proteins and immunoglobulin in their bodies would not be wrecking havoc on their immune system.
A damaged and poorly conditioned gut and digestive system will however, only lead to a worse condition for your pet and more expenses for you. Your pet’s body relies on these organs not only for supplying their much needed nutrient but also for housing one of the most important aspects of the immune system, the gut.
As a pet parent, you need to remember that your dog needs almost the same things that you do – good nutrition, sufficient rest, physical exercise, and the sun – in order to have a well-running body. Without these, your pet will suffer from allergies and diseases which can overrun their natural immune responses and cause them to malfunction.
Your pet has the necessary mechanism to combat allergies but in order for it to work, you need to make sure that their bodies are in good condition. Give them as much a natural diet, exercise, rest, and sunlight so their bodies can generate the needed strength and resistance to these allergies.