My Dog has Allergies -- What Now?

Healthy cats and dogs are not itchy, smelly, flaky or constantly trying to scratch or bite at their fur. If your pet is displaying any of these tell-tale signals, it’s a major sign that something is out of balance in their system.

When all systems in your pet’s body are humming along in balance, their skin, eyes, ears, and digestive system are protected by their immune symbiotic relationship.

In a healthy animal (dog, cat, or human) normal inhabitants of the skin coexist in harmony, each doing their jobs and living their lives in a symbiotic relationship.

If an animal’s immune system is under more stress than it can manage, this symbiotic relationship can fall out of balance and skin problems -- hot spots, rashes, yeast overgrowth and bacterial infections -- can result.

Conventional medical intervention includes antihistamines, antibiotics, and steroids. All of these medications modify and suppress the immune system, and although sometimes required, your goal should be to help your pet’s immune system work properly, not suppress it.

With species-appropriate nutrition, appropriate bathing and proper exercise, many animals regain their health and thrive without drugs.

First and foremost your pet needs to be on a healthy, grain free diet. If the first 5 ingredients listed on your pets food are NOT real , chicken meal, chicken by-products, dried beet pulp, corn, wheat gluten etc. these are fillers and not a healthy choice for your pet.  You should know that most commercial foods sold in pet stores contain high amounts of sugar and fillers, also known as Carbohydrates. These are things an animal DOES NOT NEED IN ITS DIET!!! Also the animal food industry is allowed by law to change up its recipe and add or remove ingredients without telling you the consumer for 6 months, then they just change the ingredient label without “really” telling you anything. They also have a habit of marketing it as new and improved.

Healthy add ins for your pets diet include, baby carrots (washed first), green beans, our dogs prefer them frozen, it’s like getting s healthy treat. Yogurt is very good for your pets, cats and dogs alike. Just remember no chocolate or citrus. Also do not buy a diet yogurt as the chemicals in it are not healthy. Cottage cheese is another good add in to your pets diet. Stay away from over processed treats as they contain large amounts of sugars and fillers.

“Allergic” Skin Problems

Skin infections and hotspots are usually caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria that normally inhabit the skin. While generally harmless, if your pet’s skin is irritated and itchy, it’s a sign that something has gone wrong -- such as there may not be enough of the immunologic IgA protecting the skin.

Though it may sound surprising, one common underlying cause of an IgA deficiency on the skin is over-utilization of IgA in the gut. This happens when things are not well balanced in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, so the IgA is needed more there, and there’s not enough left over to protect the skin.

Antibiotics and other medications that decrease gastrointestinal permeability can all contribute to an imbalance in your pet’s gut, so if your animal has taken any such drugs I recommend you provide a source of beneficial bacteria, to “re-seed” the intestinal tract and bolster gastrointestinal defenses.

Is Yeast Overgrowth Harming Your Pet?

Yeast also naturally inhabit your pet’s skin, but when the proper balance is distributed they can multiply rapidly and cause skin and ear problems. You’ll know your dog or cat has yeast if he starts smelling like a corn chip (some think cheese popcorn). Yeast causes intense itching and can grow in localized areas -- causing a creamy white accumulation between toes -- in the ears, or can affect the whole body.

An overgrowth of yeast is a signal that your pet’s immune system is not functioning well, as well as an indication your pet needs a good probiotic.

Often, there is a dietary connection as well, so if you suspect yeast overgrowth it’s a good time to try and eliminate extra carbohydrates (corn, wheat, rice, soy) from your pet’s diet. You see, yeast need sugar (carbs) as an energy source and reducing your pet’s intake of unnecessary carbohydrates reduces the yeast’s “fuel”.

Symptoms of Skin Allergies in Your Pet

Skin allergies cause a variety of symptoms in animals, such as:

  • Fur may feel “sticky”
  • Lots of flakes on the skin despite the fact that your pet feels greasy
  • Red spots with little white heads, which often have black areas around them
  • Red, inflamed skin covering large areas of the body
  • Your pet may act like his or her skin is crawling
  • Your dog might also lick her legs or chew her pads, and there may be inflamed spots between toes, in armpits and inner legs. “Hot Spots,” or localized moist skin infections, can seem to appear in an instant and can spread at an alarming rate. These oozing sores are extremely painful and can easily become infected.

If your pet’s immune system is highly reactive, environmental substances (ragweed, grass, pollen, mold) animals pick up just by walking outside can even provide enough irritating substances to cause a reaction.

Remember, animals don’t shower daily to remove these allergens and they don’t wear protective clothing and shoes to keep allergens at bay. The resulting allergic reaction is actually one reason why elderly animals and those in poor health often exude an unpleasant fragrance.

Common Sense 101: Keep Skin Clean

If you have a rash, scab, infection, or injury to your skin, you don’t have much question about what to do -- you keep it clean! The same is true for dogs and cats. Your animals will feel better, smell better, and heal faster if their skin is kept clean. However, in the case of cats, they may not be happier -- bathing is not usually on their list of favorite activities!

Tips on Choosing Shampoos

From the wide variety of commercial pet shampoos available, choose as you do for yourself, trying to avoid toxic ingredients. Try to get a product that does not contain alcohol, perfumes, sulfates or petroleum products. At StylaPet Day Spa all of our product are made with essential oils only. Leaving your pet smelling cleaner longer. Our products are safe for both cats and dogs.

Also avoid shampoos that include oatmeal. Oatmeal has a great reputation as a soothing ingredient, but in animals that have a problem with grain (which is 80% plus of allergic dogs!) they are likely to have problems with oatmeal shampoos. Grain-based shampoos may also provide a carbohydrate food source for unwanted yeast and bacteria. The only pets that truly benefit from oatmeal shampoos are those that have poison oak or poison ivy reactions.

“Healthy” shampoos that include essential oils should be used with caution on cats, but they are usually fine for dogs. There are a variety of animal herbal shampoos on the market that are non-drying and safe to use on a very regular basis.
And remember, DO NOT use human shampoos on pets… our pH is different.

Source: “How Often Should You Bathe Your Pet?” by Dr. Becker posted on July 14, 2009

Posted on March 26, 2013 .