Allergies in your dog should not be just treated as a problem in-and-of themselves. They are a symptom: a symptom of a low immune system. Probably 80% of my patients today come to me suffering from allergies, and most of those have already tried multiple traditional remedies, with only temporary success. The reason for that is simple: allopathic medications only treat the symptoms, not the cause.
Let’s understand first what allergies are:
The immune system feels threatened by a protein and reacts to it. The lower the immune system, the more active (and overreactive) it becomes! Hence allergy tests on a highly symptomatic dog may come back with many false positives.
Symptoms of allergies in dogs:
Incessant paw licking, scratching (beyond the regular dog itches), excessive shedding, and even bad odors can be related to allergies. Keep an eye out for the first signs of immune disorders! Eating grass and even eating poop can be linked to a probiotic deficiency, which leads to a low immune system and can consequently become allergies.
Welts and shortness of breath could be signs of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) which can lead to death, so if you see those signs, take your dog to the E.R. immediately. Having an EpiPen (a medical device used to deliver a measured dose of epinephrine – also known as adrenaline – in case of anaphylactic shock) handy is always a good idea.
Synthetic corticosteroids such as prednisone (the most common steroid given to dogs with allergies) act as immunosuppressants, and though they may reduce the itching and paw licking for a little while, the side effects should be weighed carefully. As with any glucocorticoids, prednisone causes high blood glucose levels, leading to even greater problems.
Prescription diets are a common go-to for traditional vets, which is understandable since they are bombarded with brainwashing marketing that is only second to that of the pharmaceutical industry. For starters, let’s analyze the first five ingredients in Z/D, Hill’s best-selling food for allergic dogs (ringing in at $90 per 25lbs bag):
Starch, Hydrolyzed Chicken Liver, Soybean Oil (preserved with BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid), Hydrolyzed Chicken, Powdered Cellulose
WOW! Sounds like a recipe for chicken-flavored cardboard! I will talk more about BHA in a future article here at lovemydogblog.com, but for now just know it’s a dangerous carcinogen banned throughout the globe, especially in Europe. Starch has no nutritional value for dogs, it just serves as a cheap filler. You may as well just feed your dog paper. Oops, you are: that’s what POWDERED CELLULOSE is! These are indeed hypoallergenic, but so are cyanide and aluminum, and we don’t feed those to our dogs!
Dropping the facetiousness and just analyzing prescription foods for what they are, I must attend to the fact that these special foods carry no prescription medications in their composition. The necessity for the “prescription” is merely a tool to market to the veterinary industry.
Probably the most sensible (and least expensive) route is to find WHAT your dog is allergic to. In the elimination diet, you will feed kibble (that is if you don’t or won’t feed raw) that is made with a single source of protein and starch. Many dog foods have chicken and salmon, or multiple starches, such as potato and peas and rice. Ideally, try to find a grain-free food WITHOUT potato (many allergies have been linked to it). Sweet potatoes are fine. Red lentils, peas, and garbanzo beans are great binders as well. If your dog is still symptomatic with regular proteins such as chicken, beef, turkey, salmon, or lamb, you may have to go to an alternative protein. Venison, buffalo, rabbit, and pork are good “exotic” proteins that you can try.
One of the most important elements in a dog’s diet (and one that lacks terribly in kibble) is probiotics. Not just any probiotics will do! I usually prescribe a high CFU count (10 billion or greater), with at least six strains. There are many immune-boosting supplements available.
Rashes caused by allergies can be treated topically with products such as VetAid and Dr. Roses Remedies, and the pet parent should add a fish-free, vegan Omega 3 Oil to help with skin dryness typical to symptomatic dogs.
Severe allergies may lead to yeast infections. Come back soon to lovemydogblog.com to read about yeast infections and more allergy and immunity treatments.