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July 6, 2011

Seasonal allergies – dogs and cats

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

Environmental allergies affect your pet in many ways.  Respiratory problems, hives, hot spots, red yeast under the eyes, ear infections and runny eyes are just some of the symptoms your dog or cat may exhibit.  Environmental allergies can develop as a reaction to cleaning chemicals used the home, plastic and latex from food bowls and toys, dust or dust mites and most commonly from outdoor elements.  Pollens, molds, grasses and trees are all types of allergens that can cause your pet to be miserable especially in the hot summer months.  Fortunately there are things you can do to help suppress the discomforts associated with allergies.

Dr. Karen Becker has some great natural tips to try below.  The use of steroids, Cyclosporine or anti-allergy injections but we urge you to try these holistic options first.

  • Quercetin. One of the things I recommend at my clinic for allergic dogs and cats is starting on a quercetin supplement before allergy season. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. I call it ‘nature’s Benadryl’ because it does a great job suppressing histamine release from mast cells and basophiles.Histamine is what causes much of the inflammation, redness and irritation characteristic of an allergic response. By turning off the histamine production with a quercetin supplement, we can suppress or at least moderate the effects of inflammation.Quercetin also has some other wonderful properties. It inhibits 5-lipooxygenase, an enzyme that upregulates the inflammatory cascade. Quercetin inhibits the production of leukotrienes, another way the body creates inflammation, thereby decreasing the level of bronchoconstriction. Bronchoconstriction occurs in the lung fields as a symptom of asthma. Quercetin can actually suppress how much constriction occurs.
  • Bromelain and papain. Bromelain and papain are proteolytic enzymes. Bromelain is derived from pineapple; papain comes from papaya. These enzymes do two things. First, they increase the absorption of quercetin, making it work more effectively. They also suppress histamine production.One of the reasons I use quercetin, bromelain and papain together is they also suppress prostaglandin release. Prostaglandins are another pathway by which inflammation can occur. By suppressing prostaglandins, we can decrease the pain and inflammation associated with irritated mucous membranes and body parts. Using the three substances in concert provides some natural pain and inflammation control.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Another thing I recommend is optimizing an allergic pet’s omega-3 fatty acid balance in the diet. Optimizing the ratio of omega-6s (primarily found in vegetable oils) and omega-3s (primarily found in fish body oils) is extremely beneficial for overall health. Omega-3s are very sensitive to heat and light, so their presence is minimal in frozen raw food, canned food and dry pet food – any processed food and especially any exposed to high temperatures.Since omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation throughout the body, adding them into the diet of all pets — particularly pets struggling with seasonal environmental allergies – is very beneficial. The best sources of omega 3s are krill oil, salmon oil, tuna oil, anchovy oil and other fish body oils.
  • Coconut oil. I also recommend coconut oil for pets with seasonal environmental allergies. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which helps decrease the production of yeast. Using a fish body oil with coconut oil before inflammation flares up in your pet’s body can help moderate or even suppress the inflammatory response.
  • Bathing and grooming. Most pets are naked, fuzzy, and travel close to the ground. Even if you own a Great Dane, his feet are in contact with the ground. You and I wear shoes, socks and clothing to protect our skin. We also take frequent baths or showers. So even though we’re encountering the same allergens as our pets, our skin is more protected and more often disinfected to remove those allergens.Your dog (or cat) doesn’t have all that protection. Plus allergens cling to her coat. She’s outside sniffing around, breathing in potential allergens. She’s walking through allergens. Also, dogs are able to sweat only through the pads of their feet and the tip of their nose, so they become like wet ‘Swiffer’ pads during allergy season. They’re collecting billions of allergens on and in their bodies throughout the warm months of the year.Now your dog comes inside and those allergens prompt an IgE allergic response that causes redness, inflammation and itching. Your pet will start digging and chewing at her skin to quell the itching and discomfort, which only creates painful spots and additional inflammation.Common sense dictates those allergens be washed off. Dermatologists recommend this common sense approach for human allergy sufferers. If you have hypersensitivities, your doctor will tell you to shower at night and in the morning to remove allergens from the surface of your body. I recommend you do the same for your dog or cat. Particularly for dogs, I recommend setting up a foot bath to soak the feet and remove allergens on a regular basis – daily if needed.
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