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Allergy in Dogs and Cats

Allergy in Dogs and Cats

Allergy treatments for symptoms related to food, skin, inhalant, contact, parasite and insect allergies in cats and dogs.

Allergy treatments for symptoms related to food, skin, inhalant, contact, parasite and insect allergies in cats and dogs.

The immune system is a complex army of cells that are found throughout your pet’s body that align to form a fortified defense against unwanted invaders. It is an intricate system that keeps your pet healthy and protects them against allergens, viruses, bacteria, microbes, parasites and toxins.


The immune system is also directed at facilitating normal function and is not intended to be suppressed or stimulated. In cases of dysfunction, an animal’s body requires whole body systemic support. If your pet’s immune system is weakened, every body system is at risk for disease.

Dogs and cats develop allergies for the same reasons as their pet parents do in that they develop a hypersensitive response to a foreign substance or irritant and create a histamine attack (an internal battle cry) to ward off the invaders.

Histamine is a critical component in the animal body for fighting infection. When an "invader" is identified, the animal body triggers inflammation and produces antibodies against the allergen, priming the body for defense. The next time exposure to the allergen occurs, a cascade of antibodies is released.  

The immune system is also directed at facilitating normal function and is not intended to be suppressed or stimulated. In cases of dysfunction, an animal’s body requires whole body systemic support. If your pet’s immune system is weakened, every body system is at risk for disease.

Dogs and cats develop allergies for the same reasons as their pet parents do in that they develop a hypersensitive response to a foreign substance or irritant that, in turn, createa a histamine attack (an internal battle cry) to ward off the invaders.

Histamine is a critical component in the animal body for fighting infection. When an "invader" is identified, the animal body triggers inflammation and produces antibodies against the allergen, priming the body for defense. The next time exposure to the allergen occurs, a cascade of antibodies is released.

Unfortunately, when histamine is released into the body in too high a quantity or incorrectly, it can have a profoundly negative health impact on your dog or cat, and can create a cycle called the “allergic cascade.”

Once an allergen sensitivity is activated, it can also create an allergic hypersensitivity to related substances, known as allergic cross reaction. And just when you thought it was as complicated as it could get, once histamine and mass cell responses have attached to an allergen, systemic allergic reactions can occur; a type of reaction that involves the entire animal body.

Allergic responses can be generated by anything your animal interacts with and these type of allergic reactions make it maddeningly difficult to identify and diagnose the actual trigger.

As pet parents of itchy, scratchy, uncomfortable dogs and cats, you probably recognize this allergic progression in your pet. So what’s next? It’s fairly simple. You need to cool down your pet’s histamine and mast cell response in the body by disabling the trigger that allows allergies to present in the first place.

Common allergies include:

Food allergies: Dogs and cats can develop food allergies to certain ingredients often contained in commercial pet foods, commonly related to corn, wheat, soy, meat-by-products, preservatives, colorants, additives and questionable protein sources and other ingredients. If your pet’s food lists any of these ingredients, the best step you can take is to stop feeding big box or grocery chain food and upgrade the food.

Also, did you know that if dogs and cats are fed the same food for months or years on end, and especially the same protein source repeatedly, they are at risk of developing an allergy to that protein source. Chicken and turkey are commonly identified as protein allergens overwhelmingly due to their persistent use in dog and cat foods.

Food is usually one of the dominant reasons an animal will experience allergies. Common symptoms of a food allergy include vomiting, diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, mucous in the stools, ear infections, skin is hot to the touch, inflammation and dehydration.

Atopic allergies: Dogs and cats experience atopic allergies by inhaling particles from grass, weed, pollen, mold, mildew, smoke, dust, dander, flowers or trees. Animals can also commonly react to detergents, carpet and rug fresheners, and household chemical cleaners to name a few. Where possible, use unscented, all-natural, organic products.

Common symptoms of an atopic allergy include sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny eyes and nose, lung inflammation and swelling.

Other common symptom include biting, scratching, itching, licking, redness, swelling, rashes, hair loss (alopecia) which may appear in single or multiple areas of the body, pollen (causing allergies in spring), vaccinations (which can cause vaccinosis), or other environmental allergens (dryer sheets, carpet freshener).

Contact allergies: Dogs and cats can develop contact allergies when exposed to substances such as pollen, flea and tick collars, vaccines, fabric, plastic, insecticide, pesticide, rubber, household cleaners, room deodorizers and more.

Common symptoms include biting, scratching, itching, licking, redness, swelling, rashes, hair loss (alopecia) which may appear in single or multiple areas of the body; pollen (causing allergies in spring), vaccinations (which can cause vaccinosis), or other environmental allergens (dryer sheets, carpet freshener).

Parasite allergies are caused by fleas, heart worm, insect bites and bee stings.  

Common symptoms may include an allergic reaction to flea saliva that causes flea bite dermatitis, scratching, itching, licking, biting, wounds, redness, swelling, rashes, hair loss (alopecia) which may appear in single or multiple areas of the body.

Diagnosing Allergies

Whatever the allergen trigger, it is important to understand that your dog or cat will try to reduce the pain and distress by biting, licking, scratching and chewing the affected area. If left untreated, inflammation and infection can follow. 

Since food (diet) continues to be the primary allergen trigger, you can do a lot as a pet owner to slowly introduce a limited ingredient diet, which is typically limited to 2 primary ingredients. Feeding your animal a limited ingredient diet can help you to eliminate potential allergen triggers.

Once you introduce a limited ingredient diet or choose to cook for your pet, do not feed treats, table scraps, rawhide toys or medications that may reduce your ability to gauge an allergic reaction.

Diet and natural supplements are the most important places to start, because they can directly limit or control the histamine (allergen) attack.

Organic Remedies - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets for this disease or condition - human grade meets highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal remedies can be used to address short term and long term allergies, are gentle but effective and typically can be used without side effects. Plant based therapeutics work to limit inflammation and auto immune failures that ultimately cause histamine response as well cool down the animal body. Herbs work to boost immunity-a critical component in warding off allergies; cleanse the blood and purify the body. Finally, plants act as "adaptogens" and reparative agents; they work at a cellular level to identify the area of failure, work to correct and balance proper cellular response and then work to reverse allergies by disengaging histamine and mast cell response. 

 Life’s An Itch - (learn more) is used to promote optimal immune response, reduces all types of allergic (acute and chronic) reactions by stopping histamine response, reduces respiratory disorders, relieves wheezing, chest discomfort and sinus inflammation, soothes smooth muscles and tissues and alleviates respiratory congestion, including asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, laryngitis, esophaghitis (GERD, reflux), rhinitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, COPD; relieves viral and bacterial infections, hot spots, remedies skin allergies and irritations, soothes itchy skin and coat in dogs and cats, and works to cut recovery time and prevent recurring infection.  

Life’s An Itch Meal Topper – (learn more)  is used holistically for its nutritional content may help address symptoms related to all types of acute and chronic allergies (including Acute Moist, Atopic, Contact, Environmental and Food Allergies; natural plant chemicals are proven to help relieve and help eliminate food allergies AND allergy sensitivities; may help limit inflammatory response and help cool histamine and mast activation and cell response in the animal body; adaptogen content may help limit and potentially help disable allergen triggers once an allergy has occurred by disabling protein production related to allergen triggers; may help dismantle the itch/scratch cycle; adaptogen content may help boost or balance immunity as needed and help address chronic reoccurring respiratory infections such as bronchitis or asthma; may help address and provide relief to symptoms related to hot spots, skin rashes, scratching, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, rubbing, foot chewing, biting, fur pulling, pain and inflammation by working from the inside out to help cool allergen response. Contains natural anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-histamine, immune boosting, anti-fungal, antiseptic, antimicrobial, antioxidant & decongestant plant properties; safe for all life stages of dogs and cats.

I Feel Good –  (learn more) contains plant based adaptogens, which helps nutritionally tone the animal body, helps boost or balance immunity as needed, including soothing an over-stimulated immune system or boosting an under- performing immune system, helps to reduce all forms of system-wise metabolic and oxidative stress that undermine immunity; helps support water regulation and fluid balance in the body; helps reduce all types of inflammation, provides dermal support and growth of healthy cells and tissues in the body’s defense mechanism, reduces the histamine trigger for contact allergies, seasonal and chronic allergens, pathogens, skin rashes, infections, hot spots, inflammation, swelling, hair loss, itching and geriatria (dull coat, lethargy) and fever; for all types of arthritis, including Degenerative Joint Disease, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and symptoms associated with rheumatism, including pain, strains, injuries, muscle pain, swelling and lack of mobilityreduces all types of inflammation, particularly from the heart to brain; as a gastrotonic to support stomach health; contains prebiotics and probiotics useful in balancing digestive health and function plus much more. Recognized as one of the most important medicinal plants in the world, particularly related to supporting balanced immunity and limiting inflammation and inflammatory conditions.

All Shins & Grins – (learn more) support the skin’s ability to withstand environmental toxin, antigen and microorganism exposure due to its Vitamin C and antioxidant content; stimulates collagen production which directly affects bone mass, bone strength, cartilage, joints, muscles, connective tissues and blood vessels (important for cases of arthritis) as well as eye and teeth health (important for macular degeneration and dental disease); promotes optimal immune response; promotes strong teeth, bone, skin and coat; may help reduces allergic (acute and chronic) skin reactions and irritations, hot spots and soothes itchy skin and coat in dogs and cats; may work  to cut recovery time and prevent recurring infections and provides general mood support; may help fight infection in the animal body.

I Want Liquid Immunity -  (learn more) contains water-soluble plant bioflavonoids that function as potent antioxidants which are important in disease prevention; used adjunctively for growth abnormalities such as tumors, cysts and lipomas (often related to poor diet, excessive medication, environmental toxicity as well as aberrant cellular mutations); provides antioxidant protection against free radicals; helps promote cellular health and to reduce catabolic waste; may help address symptoms related to allergies, Lyme disease and other auto immune diseases; provides nutritional, biochemical and plant botanical support of healthy immune cells; promotes optimal immune protection and systematic health and strength; supports bone, teeth and muscle health and integrity and for animals that need extra joint, immune, circulatory and vascular support. Strongly anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-mutagenic.

Conventional Remedies

The diagnosis of an allergy is based on the symptoms presented. A holistic veterinarian will perform a thorough, physical examination, review your animal’s medical history, may perform a skin reaction test, an intradermal allergy tests and/or a blood test. Please keep in mind that it is very difficult to isolate allergens. 

In addition to changing your pet’s food to a limited ingredient diet, it may be helpful to add an all-natural multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (such as The Daily Paws – (click for more information)) to balance your pet’s diet that includes omega fatty acid, a natural antihistamine and a natural corticosteroid.

Veterinarians prescribe a variety of topical solutions such as a hypoallergenic or hydrocortisone cream, oatmeal shampoo, anti-itch cream, lotion and cooling salves. A conventional vet may recommend an immunotherapy program that consists of a series of shots in cases where allergies are severe.

Synthetic steroids are the most commonly prescribed synthetic medication by vets, however, they are typically associated with a wide range of side effects, including increased thirst, increased urination and panting. Long term steroid use can lead to secondary diabetes or Cushing’s disease.

 

 

 

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