Allergies and Your Pet
In today’s world it seems that pet allergies have taken on a life all their own. As pet parents, we are constantly battling excessive chewing, licking and scratching, recurring ear infections, and idiopathic hair loss. Add to these issues digestive upset, foul body odor, dull and brittle coat, dry and flakey or oily skin and you have the key markers for the allergic pet. Recent studies have also shown that anxiety and respiratory issues can be caused or exasperated by allergens. With this host of symptoms any owner would feel defeated. So what, you may ask, can we do to alleviate such agonizing problems? The first step is knowing your enemy.
An ‘allergy’ is an exaggerated response by the immune system to a substance or toxin (often called the ‘allergen’). Allergens can be encountered by contact (touch), ingestion (eating/drinking), or inhalation (breathing in). Some researchers argue that food allergies (an ingested allergy) account for twenty percent of all allergy cases thus making this type of allergy the most prevalent. Many veterinarians and other animal professionals feel that this measurement does not reflect the true proportion of allergies due to food. In fact, most feel that this percentage is much higher due to undiagnosed food allergies. However, because the immune system takes a hit when food allergies are present, any other types of allergies can intensify any allergic reaction a pet may exhibit. We call this the “Boiling Pot Effect.” For instance, if a dog is fed a food that he is allergic to his pot (immune system) is always at a boil. If you add inhaled seasonal allergies (let’s say pollen) to his pot, it will boil over every time. However, if the dog is fed a food that he is not allergic to his pot is at a simmer; and, when seasonal allergies are added there will be no boil over. In short, as the body comes into contact with allergens and other toxins they build up in the body causing the immune system to become unbalanced.
The best medicine is to eliminate the allergen or toxin in question. This will help to reduce the symptoms or eliminate the allergy altogether while allowing the immune system to mend. Unfortunately, we cannot always eradicate inhaled or contact allergens. However, doing so can be frustrating. Veterinarians often push medication while such treatments only alleviate the symptoms of the aliment, not the cause of it. Some medications can also have adverse effects on the immune system. The immune system is what keeps the body healthy, and the skin is the immune system’s first defense. With that being said, most immunologic issues manifest as skin allergies in the form of itching, pustules, chewing the feet, etc. We believe that high quality pet foods that use human grade ingredients, proven granular supplements, and homeopathic and herbal remedies can be the key to improving a pet’s life and longevity.