Spring is almost upon us and you know what that means – allergy season has started. One of the most common concerns that we handle each and every day is the intense and aggravating allergy symptoms of itching and scratching that many dogs suffer from. We always try to resolve the issue with a change in nutrition, but during particular times of the year (such as springtime) the culprit may be more of an environmental cause.
If your dog gets hot spots or discoloration of the skin because of the constant itching and scratching, it may be a symptom of seasonal allergies rather than simply a nutritional deficiency. The condition is called “atopy” or atopic dermatitis. In this regard, our pets are no different than us humans – they can develop a sensitivity to their environment just like a we can.
An inhalant allergy in canines is similar to our asthma and hay fever and can cause sneezing in your pet and commonly develops into skin rashes. A seasonal allergy can be encountered about as often as an allergy caused by fleas.
Seasonal causes are often overlooked when trying to find a solution to allergy issues. However this should not be the case. The allergy triggers that we most often encounter are indeed caused by food sensitivities. Unfortunately, we can’t always cure the condition with a simple change to a biologically appropriate raw food (BARF) diet. Once the diet is improved and the food changes don’t make for a better, less allergic pet, it is then time to change the course of action and look at a possible genetic connection.
If an animal inhales or absorbs through the skin an allergen (such as pollen or grass) it causes an allergic response in the animal and the immune system is attacked. Pollen and dust are not the only things in your environment that your dog can be allergic to. They can be stimulated from a variety of different sources: dust mites, weeds, molds, trees and a variety of flower pollens that become the trigger. Again, this is no different than it is for humans.
- English Setters
- Golden Retrievers
- Irish Setters
- Labrador Retrievers
- Lhasa apsos
- Wire Fox Terriers
Most dogs develop seasonal and other allergies between one and three years of age. Some dogs may develop symptoms later in life, though it is uncommon. If a dog has a sensitivity to one type of allergen, they may also be prone to developing other types of allergies later on. It is not uncommon that dogs who have never exhibited symptoms at all may suddenly develop seasonal allergies.
If it is a seasonal allergy, the dog will only exhibit symptoms for a few weeks a year, usually during the Spring and Fall. It is also not uncommon for dogs with seasonal allergies to also suffer from chronic allergies to food and other things in their environment.
You can submit your dog to a series of allergen tests to determine what allergens might be troubling your dog. Besides being quite costly, these tests are not always conclusive and may sometimes offer some false positive suggestions.
There are a variety of allergy medications that can be used to ease the symptoms during the peak times. Many times the allergy is triggered in-house. You can reduce allergy symptoms by vacuuming your carpets during the allergy season and keep your dog inside as much as possible. Reduce the pollen count in your home by keeping your windows closed during the allergy season. A HEPA filtration device is another way to reduce allergens in the home.
One of the very best ways to reduce the effects of the allergy is to strengthen your pet’s immune system. A biologically appropriate raw food diet (BARF Diet) can help to build up the immune system that will be effective in attacking the inflamed sites. This internal medication is Nature’s finest solution to treating allergy issues.
Your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids and antihistamines to alleviate itchy skin conditions but watch out! These remedies can cause undesirable side effects and may reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, especially when used as a long-term solution. Many new holistic treatments have been used to offer natural itch relief. An effective treatment is a colloidal oatmeal shampoo used every 1 to 2 weeks in combination with an herbal anti-itch treatment. With this treatment, most pets will quit itching within the first couple of days. Using effective omega oil supplement, like BARF World’s E-Omega Coat Oil, is another great step to allergy prevention and treatment that will keep the skin tissue in optimum condition.
Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of “Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. He and his wife love to travel around the world with their dog, Moxie – a Yorkshire Terrier/Maltese mix. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” monthly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.