Spring has sprung, and for many pet parents, that means it will soon be time for those dreaded dog allergies to rear their ugly heads. Just like with humans, seasonal allergies in dogs are most prominent in the spring.
It’s sad, but all too true.
This year, don’t get stuck chasing allergy symptoms all season long. Instead, prepare the body and prevent them as best you can!
And that prep starts with understanding exactly what allergies are…
What are Allergies?
You’ve probably heard of histamine. It is a chemical created in the body that is released by white blood cells into the bloodstream when the immune system is defending itself. It’s part of what causes the reactive/allergic/trauma response to something like a bee sting, hives, etc. It’s the body’s defence against foreign proteins in the blood. The body sees an “attack”, releases mast cells that then release histamine, and this causes the body to react.
That’s why allergy medicines are called antihistamine. They’re suppressing that release of histamine in the body, therefore stopping or suppressing an allergic reaction.
Initially, this histamine reaction is a good thing, targeting only true invaders, and the body rebounds after a short time.
The problem, however, is when the body has an overabundance of histamine, or the stimulus (the allergen) is non-stop. Then, the body can’t handle it, and allergies become non-stop themselves.
Our dogs can have seasonal allergies to certain things in their environment. Some common allergens are:
- Dust mites (these may be more prevalent in the winter, unless you’re doing lots of spring cleaning!!)
- Leaf mold
Plus, once the the heat of the summer picks up, this can exacerbate skin issues.
Watch for these common symptoms as the seasons change:
- licking at their paws
- generalized hair loss
- watery eyes
- runny nose
- scratching, chewing, biting
- skin damage due to scratching or licking
- ear infections
- gastric reflux
So can you help your beloved beast when spring allergens are in the air?
Getting Ahead of Dog Allergies
In our experience, it is best to start at least one to three months before the season or allergic reaction starts –
marry the external season changes with the internal bodily functions.
Work on Gut Health
If your dog’s digestive system is not functioning as it should, this can make allergy symptoms worse. In fact, if the gut is unhealthy it can be the direct cause of allergies! The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Some of that bacteria is harmful, and some of it is vital for overall health. We always want to work on overcrowding that harmful bacteria by creating a healthy gut environment. A healthy gut helps to keep unwanted allergens from entering the bloodstream.
For example, if your dog is reactive to pollen, and licks their paws, you want the gut to be able to contain that pollen and excrete it. If the gut is unhealthy, and your dog ingests that pollen, it can leak into the bloodstream, causing a major reaction.
To create that healthy environment:
- bring on the pre- and probiotics that have been proven to create immune modulation
- opt for fresh food
- avoid harsh antibiotics and drugs when you can
- reduce stress
- address leaky gut syndrome – we cannot have immune health without focusing on gut health – primary function of immune health
What’s even more interesting and exciting for all those pet parents dealing with allergies with their dogs, is that there are pre and probiotics that have been scientifically proven to create what’s called immune modulation.
When you are given a drug for your dog’s allergies that is considered immune suppressive (think Apoquel, prednisone, vanectyl-p, etc), these drugs are given when your veterinarian believes that your pup’s immune system is on too high an alert. These drugs are used to suppress the immune system and sometimes, if your pet is really suffering, this is a necessary step to help alleviate the suffering.
The problem is that this is not a cure but rather a suppressive method that can have severe, long-term consequences. They can suppress the immune function to the point that your dog becomes susceptible to infections, causing the vet to resort to the combination use of antibiotics, which then in turn wreaks havoc on the good bacteria of the gut. This leads to the chronic allergy merry-go-round. So while it can be helpful for the stress and pain, it’s best to look at the underlying cause so that you can also incorporate an integrative approach to deal with the core issue and so that your veterinarian can wean your dog off the drugs as soon as possible.
This is were natural immune-modulation comes in. This is when the body has been given something that supports its immune system to balance things out – decrease if it becomes to high and increase it when it becomes too low. it allows for modulation. One of the most supportive therapies that can be to used are these science-backed pre and probiotics, very good news on the allergy front!
Get On Board with Omegas
Omega-3s have incredible anti-inflammatory properties that many dogs need during allergy season. Those anti-inflammatory properties that help with arthritis, pain relief, and immune-modulation – the ones omegas are best known for – can also help relieve allergies.
Plus, these do more than just reduce allergies – they also simultaneously work to support brain, heart, eye, and joint health!
When it comes to dog allergies, stress can be a major contributing factor. Stress raises cortisol levels in the body, which can then make your dog even more susceptible to allergies and the resulting itch.
To help better prepare your pup to face the onslaught, try to do things to reduce stress in their environment:
- Stock up on raw bones to give the brain an easy – and nutritious – work out.
- Consider ways to beat boredom – mental stimulation is a wonderful stress reliever.
- Engage with your dog. Snuggle, play tug, read him a story.
- Think about things that might cause your dog stress – too much time alone, for example – and work to decrease that.
- Getting too hot or not enough air flow can be a huge stressor, so having a fan with an extra bed nearby is unbelievably helpful for a dog who’s stressed with allergies.
Support the Detoxifying Organs
The liver is the main detoxifying organ in the body. Along with the kidneys, the liver helps filter waste from the body. And a healthy liver helps break down histamine. The same goes for the kidneys. They help to filter waste from the blood and body, giving the body a better chance at fighting off excess histamine.
Several herbs help to support these organs, including celandine, barberry, milk thistle, and dandelion. You’ll find all of them in our Liver Tonic.
Say No to Yeast
Yeast flare-ups tend to occur more commonly in the spring and fall. Typically, “spring or Liver season” is a time when these flare ups are exasperated. Additionally, seasonal allergies can sometimes bring on the yeast!
Our Yeasty Beast Protocol can help address yeast at the root!
Ready for Spring
Spring should be a time of celebration. A time to welcome a new season of rebirth. It shouldn’t be a season of stress!
Dog allergies can be so hard for both you and your animal to deal with. It’s why so many pet parents, in desperation, turn to conventional medications to help relieve their animal’s discomfort. We never want our animals to suffer, so this year, try to get ahead of spring allergies with a little preparation.