Our pets are like people: they have allergies and intolerances to nature and food as well. Some dog owners will be disheartened when their little friends are whimpering and scratching all day. We don’t want our pets to be miserable, so I think that it’s very considerate to care about their allergies as well. Here are some information and tips on how to treat a dog’s allergies naturally.
How to Treat A Dog’s Allergies
The best solution to treating any type of allergies is always to prevent them from developing in the first place. Depending on the type of allergy or intolerance your pet has, they may display differe
nt symptoms. Dogs and cats usually get watery eyes and sneeze when they are having a mild allergy attack, but most dog owners ignore the most common symptom: excessive scratching.
Like humans, pets may be affected by allergies for years and they might get progressively worse if they are not treated. It is not healthy to give your dog an antihistamine or nasal decongestant, but there are definitely natural ways that we can help them without affecting their long-term health. (1)
The first step is understanding if your dog has allergies, to what, and how severe they are.
Types of Allergies Dogs Can Have
There is a wide range of allergies and intolerances that dogs can have. The most common is referred to as atopy, or atopic dermatitis: an inflammatory and chronic skin disease. This allergic reaction is from exposure to harmless substances like mold, grass, dust and other allergens.
Dogs normally begin to display symptoms of atopy after 3 months of age and is usually mild for the first year of age. The symptoms of atopic dermatitis will get worse with time, but may also fluctuate in severity if the allergies are seasonal. If your dog has spring allergies, the symptoms will be at their worst during this time.
The areas that are most commonly associated with atopic dermatitis in dogs include:
The symptoms of atopic dermatitis in dogs include:
- Scratching excessively
- Rubbing their body on things
- Excessive licking around the face, paws and underarms
- Chewing at the feet
- Spots on the dog’s skin
- Wheezing and other respiratory problems
This type of allergy may be genetic in dogs, which makes exposure to allergens like dander, pollen, mold and dust especially detrimental to their immune system. (2)
The most common allergy symptom in dogs is a skin problem that will likely be physically apparent. A less common skin disease in canines is contact dermatitis: a reaction that occurs immediately when a chemical or substance touches the skin.
There are two types of contact dermatitis diseases: allergic and irritant. In order for this reaction to occur, there must be physical contact with the allergen. Allergic dermatitis develops usually when there is repeated exposure to a substance that the immune system eventually decides that it is harmful. In the past, exposure to this substance may have been fine, but months or years later, an allergy developed in your pet. (3)
The most common things that dogs develop contact allergic reactions to include:
- Flea prevention powders and collars
- Grass and pollen
- Artificial dyes
- Materials like rubber and plastic
On the other hand, your dog may have an irritating reaction to a substance that has always existed in their health. When they touch these things, they are overly reactive to chemicals and their skin gets very irritated. Some chemicals that can cause irritating contact dermatitis include:
- Poison Ivy
- Petroleum products
Contact dermatitis will appear on the feet, nose, lips, chin, knees, behind the knees, and the tummy area. The most obvious symptoms of this will be red bumps and rashes. There will likely also be blisters, hives, crusting skin, scaling or hair loss. The dog will be scratching and licking these areas of the skin a lot.
It’s important to treat the cause of these symptoms because excessive scratching may result in a bacterial infection.
Your dog may experience uncomfortable symptoms when they eat a particular ingredient in their meals. Repeated exposure may stress their immune system and make them sick.
Food allergies or intolerances in dogs may take months or years to develop and become noticeable. At one time, your dog may be eating broccoli just fine and a year later they may be allergic to it.
Allergic reactions are usually associated with the protein that is present in meals. In dogs, intolerances are very common to beef and milk products. Most commonly, they can be allergic to wheat or corn. It is recommended by vets to avoid these ingredients in your food regardless of knowing if they are allergic to them to prevent developing the very damaging allergies. (4)
If you are feeding your dog a food ingredient that they are allergic to, this may cause long-term inflammation that will lead to an infection. In the worst case, they may need surgery and medication to repair the damage.
Food allergies and intolerances can develop at any age and it appears that some dog breeds are more susceptible to food allergies. This is likely due to the amount of uncontrolled inbreeding that has weakened the DNA of the dog breed. Dog breeders should be held responsible for this. (5)
Signs of Food Allergies in Dogs
Identifying and diagnosing a food allergy in dogs can be difficult because the symptoms are varied widely and can be unnoticeable. The most common signs are digestive and skin problems. Food allergies also often match the symptoms of other diseases or infections. This is why you should always consult a veterinarian if you notice any abnormality in your pet.
If your dog vomits often, has a poor fur coat condition, or irritated skin, this may possibly be from reacting to a food ingredient. You should look out for the following symptoms:
- Hair loss/Patchy fur
- Red, irritated skin
- Poor growth in young dogs
- Wheezing, sneezing and other respiratory problems
How to Treat A Dog’s Allergies With Nutrition
Dogs have a nutritional need that can’t be ignored. Health problems like allergies likely develop when their organs cannot function properly because there is a deficiency of something in their diet.
Every dog owner should make sure that clean and pure water is available to them at all times. Dehydration is the most common cause of illness in pets.
Dogs need a large amount and variety of protein sources. These are the building blocks for cells, tissues, and hormones that are essential for growth, health and maintenance. Veterinarians suggest that you feed your dog a variety of different meats and vegetables so that their diet consists of an adequate supply of amino acids. (6)
Their diet should also contain a healthy abundance of fats, which are essential for the structure of cells, the production of hormones, and absorption of nutrients. Feeding dogs a variety of vegetables and legumes will be very healthy for them. Some dog owners like to drizzle olive oil on their dog’s food.
An issue that should concern every dog owner is vitamins and minerals in their friend’s diet. These are necessary for proper metabolic and organ function. If necessary, multivitamins for dogs exist that you can sprinkle on their food or let them swallow whole.
How to Treat A Dog’s Allergies With Nature
It is not recommended to give your dog a bath with the soap that you use. Hypoallergenic soaps are recommended because the ingredients in them will not affect their health or cause a reaction. Also try to buy fabrics that they will sleep on that are made with hypoallergenic fabrics.
You should make sure that the air in your dog’s home is not too dry. Dry air allows small particles and allergens to easily be kicked up and inhaled. A quality air humidifier will moisten the air and allow moisture back into the sinuses. This is necessary to remain healthy and to remove particles and allergens from your mucous membranes.
If your dog experiences symptoms on their skin, you should definitely consider getting them a topical cream to soothe irritation so that they don’t scratch too much and cause an infection.
It is recommended that you give your pet an enzyme supplement if they have food allergies so that this can help heal their digestive tract and digest anything they are having trouble with.
Some naturopathic dog bloggers recommend feeding your dog local honey and supplementing them with natural nettles and mullein.
I am always here for you, so if you have a question on how to treat a dog’s allergies, please leave me a comment!