Does your dog or cat have seasonal allergies? How do you know? Well if your pet goes through cycles during the year when they have itchy eyes, itchy skin, hot spots, and other secondary infections, they may have seasonal allergies. Like us, the environment has an effect on our health and how we respond to it. Unlike our response to seasonal allergies such as hayfever, dogs and cats often show their response through their skin.
I personally have a dog that has terrible seasonal allergies. When we rescued her, she came with a file so thick with allergy treatments and antibiotics I thought I’d never be able to make her healthy and comfortable. I didn’t want to use the steroids, antibiotics and immune-suppressing medications, but I also didn’t want her chewing her paws off and scratching all night. So I started on a path to help her recover and heal. Not only from her internal issues, but from 8 years of medications.
The first step is to figure out when your pet has allergic symptoms. If it is all year, it most likely is not seasonal allergies. It could be food or another environmental stressor that is around your pet all year. If you find your pet usually has these symptoms in the spring or fall when plants are blossoming or molds are in excess, then it is probably a seasonal reaction. Although, if your pet has been dealing with seasonal allergies for years, the symptoms may persist even in colder months due to the untreated battle going on with their immune system.
Next, you need to eliminate as many of the environmental triggers you can. Obviously you can’t get rid of the grass outside or all of the blowing pollen, but there are some things you can do. First, look inside your home. Are you using chemicals for cleaning or air freshener/candles? As simple as that seems, getting rid of those may help. Using more non-toxic products lessens the toxic load on you and your pet, which allows your pet to be less taxed.
Look outside to see what you can control. Be careful of using pesticides and weed killers on your lawn. Your dog isn’t wearing shoes most likely, and these chemicals get on their feet and fur. Also, try not to let them wander on neighbor’s lawns that use chemicals. Last, when you return home, clean off their paws with clean water or even a foot bath.
But the main reason I am writing this blog in the winter is because this is the time to help your pet with seasonal allergies. How does this even make sense? Winter is the perfect time to make some changes to your pet’s diet and supplements. This is because your pet is not dealing with the symptoms and stress as they do during the allergy season. I like to think of winter as the “healing” season. It gives my Zoie a break from many of her environmental triggers and allows me to give her support and healing to prepare her before the allergy season is upon us. Thus, she has had fewer allergic reactions as time goes by. But remember, it takes time and patience to heal our pets. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not as easy as giving a pill. Her allergies didn’t start overnight, it took many years for hers to get this bad. I feel that in the short time I’ve had her, she’s already improved so much!
According to Dr. Becker, DVM and Rita Hogan, canine herbalist, seasonal allergies begin with a pet’s internal organs. By helping make the gut and liver healthier, we can help minimize the allergy symptoms.
First, address your pet’s diet. If your pet is eating a kibble based diet which is highly processed, you may consider feeding or supplementing with more fresh foods. Meaning, feed real meat, fruits, vegetables, and other human-grade foods to your pet (organic if possible). A processed diet contributes to leaky gut and inflammation. You can use healthier foods to help calm and heal the gut, which can lead to less allergic reactions. This is exactly how I helped my Zoie. I changed her diet from kibble to a raw diet. But that’s not all I did.
I also use food-grade supplements from Standard Process. Dr. Sheppard, DVM recommended several supplements to help support her liver and other organs. I also consulted Rita Hogan, a canine herbalist. She recommended an herbal supplement with dandelions and other herbs to strengthen Zoie’s liver. I added Cocotherapy coconut oil to her diet every day. Cocotherapy coconut oil has lauric acids which help fight yeasts in the body. Adding sardines as a source of Omega 3 oils has also helped, and it’s easy to do. I started this last winter, and Zoie’s allergic symptoms decreased dramatically from when we rescued her right in the middle of allergy season two springs ago. She’s not completely healed, but she has made significant progress. I keep learning and supporting as much as I can, and I certainly feel she is a happier, healthier dog!
Dr. Karen Becker has a great article on more ideas to help with seasonal allergies in pets. It talks about ideas you can discuss with your veterinarian for a more natural approach to the traditional steroids and antibiotics as well.
Good luck, and start working on those allergies now! Don’t wait for spring to come…..