Environmental allergies in dogs are unfortunately very common. But how do you know if it is an environmental allergy, a food allergy or something else? Allergy type symptoms can overlap so it can be difficult to know for certain. This blog is designed to help a little. (I will refer to an environmental allergy as EA for ease).
EA’s are usually seasonal with itchiness being far worse in the Spring and Autumn, so around March and September. Food allergies, digestive dysfunction or yeast problems can be all year round and accompanied with other symptoms, such as tummy upset, sickness, smelly greasy ears, skin discolouration, head shaking and scooting.
So how does your dog ‘get’ an allergy?
Allergies are the result of your dogs immune system over-reacting to a specific ‘trigger’. Normally your dogs immune system would protect them from these triggers, but an allergy occurs when their immune system sees these triggers as a threat and responds by releasing histamines, causing inflammation and itching.
It may be that your dogs immune system has become compromised over time, and although the allergy seems to have come out of nowhere, it has probably been a slow progression rather than an overnight occurrence. Chemicals and pesticides from our environment, chemical flea treatments, processed food and even water can contribute to poor immunity, as can medication and vaccinations. Genetics can also play a part.
EA triggers can be pollen (grass or tree), dust, mould or fungi. To some paw parents it can seem like their dog is allergic to fresh air!!
EA symptoms can include;
* Inflamed, sore skin
* Sneezing or congestion
* Watery eyes or runny nose
* Continuous licking or biting, especially of the paws
* Fur loss
Conventional drugs prescribed by your vet generally work by suppressing your dogs immune response. They inhibit the function of cytokines which are small proteins released by many different cells in the body, including those of the immune system. Basically, these types of drugs ‘switch off’ the itch response and because they are so effective they tend to be an ideal (perhaps last ditch) solution for so many paw parents.
As outlined earlier, prescribed medication contain chemicals which can negatively impact the immune system, especially when taken long term, plus as toxicity builds up, the liver will be under extra strain to filter out waste effectively. The immune system needs to be in good working order to fight off viruses, bacteria and allergies, plus a compromised immune system can lead to dysbiosis or leaky gut which can be really hard to get under control. When the immune system is very out of balance, your dog can suffer from environmental AND food allergies, and if very unlucky, a yeast infection too!
It is possible to get EA under control without drugs, but may take a little longer and need some diet adjustments to get the immune system working efficiently. Foods that are high in anti-oxidants produce enzymes that help to regulate the immune system. Cruciferous vegetables kale and broccoli are excellent as are blueberries and cranberries - although the latter may need to be avoided in the presence of a yeast infection due to their high sugar content.
Echinacea, Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica), Ginkgo, Astragalus, Curcumin from Turmeric and Liquorice root (to name a few!) are powerful anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting herbs.
For topical relief, apple cider vinegar is an excellent paw rinse. Simply dilute with water and use at least once a day. You can also mix diluted apple cider vinegar with green tea and use as a rinse after bathing your fur baby with a natural shampoo.
All of the Proflax formulas contain active herbal tinctures that are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and have powerful anti-oxidant properties.
Skin & Coat includes Ginkgo and Liquorice root together with Scullcap, Sarsaparilla & Nettle which possess natural anti-histamine and steroidal properties. Chamomile is an anti-fungal and calmative herb whilst Milk Thistle will gently cleanse any built up toxins from the liver.
Immunity & Vitality includes Echinacea, Turmeric, Astragalus, Gotu Kola and Liquorice root together with relaxant Withania and Milk Thistle for that all important cleanse.
We would suggest that if have an excessively itchy pooch then use our Skin & Coat formula as it will help to relieve the immediate itch. To get their immune system strong try rotating Skin & Coat with Immunity & Vitality. Both formulas will provide the necessary bioactive compounds & anti-oxidants to help regulate the immune system and reduce the effects of seasonal allergies.