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Skin Allergies in Dogs Skin Allergies in Cats

Skin Allergies in Dogs Skin Allergies in Cats
Herbal nutrition to help soothe itchy skin, skin irritations and skin allergies by helping to control histamine response.

The immune system is a complex army of cells found through out your pet’s body that provides a fortified defense against unwanted invaders. Immunity is tied to a complex 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. 

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.

Allergies are an example of an autoimmune disease and compromised immunity. Many animals suffer from allergies that are caused by a hypersensitive reaction in the immune system related to environmental allergens. When your pet is exposed to an "invader" its immune system tends to over-react, triggering antibodies which create a histamine response, and this combination results in an allergic reaction. 

Dogs and cats develop the same types of allergies just as humans do, but in animals, the primary reason is related to skin allergies. If you have ever watched your pet itch, scratch, bite or claw an area of their body, it is likely the result of  a skin allergy. Allergic skin responses can be generated by anything your animal interacts with such as fleas, food, mites, airborne particles but allergies are also related to liver disease, fungus, mange, anxiety and environmental toxins.

Skin allergies can cause a lot of discomfort for your dog or cat. Your pet may lick, bite, chew or scratch excessively in one or more areas, even to the point of removing coat and skin and causing sores and wounds. Your animal may rub its face with its paws or rub against furniture to get relief and you may notice hair loss on the legs, around the ears, eyes and mouth.

There are various types of skin allergies, including:

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

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

2. Food allergies: Dogs and cats can develop skin allergies to food ingredients commonly found in commercial pet foods. Common allergen triggers include corn, wheat, soy, meat-by-products, preservatives, colorants and other additives. If your pet’s food includes any of these ingredients, upgrade to raw, home cooked or premium, holistic food. Also, give your pet fresh, filtered water daily. Tap water overwhelmingly contains flouride and other inorganic compounds that can harm your pet. 

Also, if you feed your dog or cat the same food for months or years, especially the same protein repeatedly, they are at risk of developing an allergy to the protein source. Food is one of the dominant reasons an animal will experience skin allergies.

Common symptoms of a food allergy include vomiting, diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, mucous in the stools, ear infections, skin feels hot to the touch, inflammation and dehydration.

3. 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, household chemical cleaners in the home and lawn fertilizers, weed killer and de-icers outside the home. 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.

4. Contact allergies: Dogs and cats develop contact allergies when exposed to substances such as a flea collars, vaccines, treated fabrics, plastic, insecticides, pesticides, rubber, household cleaners and more.

Common symptoms include biting, scratching, itching, licking, redness, swelling, rashes, hair loss (also called alopecia), pollen (causing allergies in spring), vaccinations (which can cause vaccinosis), or other environmental allergens (dryer sheets, carpet freshener).

If you suspect an allergy, consult your holistic vet. Some vets may suggest steroid and anti-histamine medications will be suggested to address your pet's symptoms. While such medications can help resolve symptoms, once you stop giving them to your pet, the problem will return. Synthetic medications can also further reduce immunity, leaving your pet susceptible to more serious disease.

Consider using an elimination diet for your dog or cat. Limit the food you feed and restrict the diet to a few ingredients. It is recommended that you feed protein sources that your pet has likely not eaten before, such as duck, venison or boar. Once you introduce a limited diet, do not feed treats, table scraps, rawhide or medications that may reduce your ability to gauge an allergic skin reaction. Also, consider adding supplements that add nutritional value, boost immunity and help regulate allergen response.

Keep in mind that it is very difficult to isolate skin allergens. Diet and natural supplements are the most important places to start, because they can directly limit or control the histamine (allergen) attack. Give your pet time to assimilate the new diet and its body time to adapt.  In time, your pet’s old diet may be reintroduced slowly.  The following supplements are reparative agents; that is, they work to help correct and limit allergies by preventing or reducing histamine and mast cell response. 

Herbal Nutrition - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets - human grade meets/exceeds 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. Some herbs function as adaptogens or “body readers” that identify the cause of dysfunction and work to correct it. Herbs also function as a natural anti-inflammatory to soothe smooth muscles interrupted by allergies, help boost or balance immunity as needed, cleanse and purify the blood to encourage toxin elimination, help to balance digestion and critical native gut flora, provide nutritional support to the liver and kidneys and work to help disarm allergen triggers. 

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. 

All Shins & Grins – (learn more) supports 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.

Bionic Body – (learn more) is used holistically for its adaptogenic (read, repair and restore funcions) 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.

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. 

If fleas are eliminated as an allergen source, your vet may suggest an elimination diet. Avoiding the allergens through an elimination diet, supplements and desensitizing your pet can control skin allergies. Drugs such as steroids and antihistamines may be prescribed to relieve the symptoms of itchiness and inflammation in pets, however, like any synthetic drug, are usually accompanied with side effects, whose long-term effects are unknown.

The drugs that are usually prescribed for animals have been developed for human use. Animals metabolize medications at approximately a 50% faster rate than humans, and the drugs can be damaging to the liver, kidneys and gall bladder. Use caution when administering synthetic medications for your pet. Long-term steroid use is discouraged because these drugs work by suppressing the immune system. 

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