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Allergies - How To Reduce Allergies in Dogs - How to Reduce Allergies in Cats

Allergies - Reducing Allergies in Dogs and Cats

The immune system is a complex army of cells found through out your pet’s body that provides 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, toxins, foreign fells and cellular mutations (healthy cells which have mutated into irregular cells). The immune system is tasked with protecting EVERY cell in the animal body, making immunity the second most important health issue you can support for your pet, aside from feeding a premium diet.

A healthy immune system is resilient and powerful and up to the task of supporting normal, balanced function. The immune system is not intended to be suppressed or stimulated.  But even an animal with a highly developed immune system can experience dysfunction or failure. In cases of dysfunction, an animal body requires whole body systemic support. If your pet’s immune system is weakened, every bodily system is at risk for disease. 

When your animal’s immune system is triggered, and if it is not in balance, it sends an alarm throughout the body in instances such as exposure to fleas, pollen, chemicals or other inorganic materials. When immunity is not balanced, it becomes overactive or suppressed and is no longer able to tell the difference between its own body or a foreign invader. As a result, the animal body basically attacks its own immune system, opening the door to inflammation, infection and autoimmune disease. 

Allergies are an example of an autoimmune disease. Many animals suffer from allergies that are caused by a hypersensitive reaction of the immune system to environmental allergens. When these antigens enter the animal’s body, the immune system tends to over-react, triggering antibodies which create a histamine and mast cell response, resulting in an allergic reaction. 

When stimulated, mast cells release a variety of biologically active chemicals which include histamine, heparin, seratonin, prostaglandins and proteolytic enzymes. Although these chemicals are essential to normal body function in dogs and cats, especially immune system health, they become damaging when they are released in excess. When your pet's immune system cannot manage the excess, hypersensitivity sets in, paving the way for allergies to present. It is essential to disengage the very triggers that enable excess mast and histamine response, and to nutritionally provide your pet with the right tools to accomplish this since your pet's immune system is no longer balanced. 

The allergic reaction your pet experiences differs in severity and may include itchiness, lesions, breathing problems, blocked sinus, asthma, eczema, hot spots and contact dermatitis. When immune system cells over-produce and are out of balance, not only do allergies present, but other more serious auto immune diseases can also develop over time, such as arthritis or cancer. Allergies can do all of that? 

How do you disengage allergen triggers? 

Try introducing a supplement that cool's your pet's body to bypass mast and histamine response as well as soothes the smooth muscles that are out of balance. It is suggested that you include adaptogenic herbs, which are natural plants that have highly specialized functions which enable them to identify dysfunction and imbalance in all body systems and then work to nutritionally correct problems, such as allergies. Adaptogens accomplish this without tapping into your pet's nutritional body reserves and energy, which is essential when your pet's immune system, and other body systems, are already tasked. 

Adaptogens may also work to identify the source of the auto-immune failure, and work to nutritionally correct the source of the allergy. By introducing plant based adaptogens, along with balanced, holistic nutrition, filtered water and a loving home environment (clear  out the toxins!), you give your pet a full body fighting chance against allergies. 

Consider common allergen sources which may be affecting your dog and cat: 

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 your pet's food to premium holistic, raw or home cooked food. 

Also, did you know that if pet is 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 pet foods. Now combine this with grains commonly included in pet's diets….Cats are obligate carnivores=the possibility of allergies presenting now compounds.

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. Petss can also commonly react to detergents, carpet and rug fresheners, and household chemical cleaners. Where possible, use unscented, all-natural, organic products. Your dog and cat internalizes everything at approximately twice the rate humans do so you begin to understand the rapid damage these types of allergens cause.

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. Use natural options whenever possible.

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), preventatives (flea, tick and heart worm medications) or other environmental allergens (dryer sheets, carpet freshener, candles, insecticides, de-icers, lawn fertilizer).

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.

Practical suggestions to help maintain balanced immunity: 

Feed your pet a premium, raw, home cooked or holistic, natural diet without preservatives, additives or colorants. It is recommended to avoid corn, wheat and soy where possible, particularly if your dog or cat has allergies. And remember immunity primarily resides in the gut so what you feed your pet is vitally linked to the state of their immune health. 

Provide fresh, clean, filtered water daily and encourage your pet to drink. Your pet's body is not designed to manage fluorides and other chemicals often found in tap water.  

Strengthen your pet’s immune system with immune-building supplements. The reality is that our pets are over burdened with toxicity and despite feeding high quality food, they likely need a natural, immune boosting supplement. 

Limit chemical exposure to inorganic fragrances and chemicals-both inside and outside the house. (Think dryer sheets, room deodorizes, cigarettes, de-icers, weed killer, lawn fertilizers, etc.) 

Exercise your dog and cat daily. It helps tone the lymphatic system and encourage detoxification and supports proper waste elimination. 

Maintain a hygienic environment by regularly disinfecting your pet’s food and water bowls, sleep area as well as litter box. 

Visit your holistic vet regularly for routine checkups to ensure overall health and well-being.

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

Organic Nutrition - (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 help address short term and long term allergies, are gentle but effective and typically can be used without side effects. Plant based therapeutics work to help limit inflammation and auto immune failures that ultimately cause histamine response as well as help cool down the animal body to help bypass allergen triggers. Herbs work to help boost immunity-a critical component in warding off allergies; help cleanse the blood and purify the body. Finally, plants act as "adaptogens" and reparative agents to reduce stress and tone the body systems; they help work at a cellular level to identify the area of failure, help to correct and balance proper cellular response and 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 and works to correct all types of allergic (acute and chronic) reactions by stopping histamine and mast response, which directly causes allergies; help reduce 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. Strongly anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, antibiotic and anti-Candidal.

I Feel Good –  (learn more) as a natural adaptogen, it helps to nutritionally tone the animal body and helps to reduce all forms of system-wise metabolic and oxidative stress that undermine immunity; natural adaptogens help promotes healthy immune response, including soothing an over-stimulated immune system to achieve balance or boosting an under-performing immune system to achieve balance;  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); 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; plus 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.

Bionic Body – (learn more) is used holistically for its adaptogenic (read, repair and restore functions) for its immune boosting and anti-inflammatory support; as an antioxidant and for its free radical scavenging (disease preventing) actions; for its nutritive content which may help to nourish the body and strengthen and revitalize bones, eye, teeth, skin and coat; works to stimulate collagen production, a primary building material of bones; may help prevent dental disease; for its plant actions to help strengthen bones, cartilage, joints, muscles, connective tissues & blood vessels & helps to reduce joint inflammation, while activating a cartilage-protective biochemical, potentially helping to preserve healthy cartilage in aging joint; for its anti-allergen natural plant chemicals which may help to fight off allergies and infections; for its prebiotic and probiotic content to help support native gut flora and healthy digestion.

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.

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.

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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