Over the last few decades, we’ve seen more and more dogs with allergic dermatitis, food intolerances and immune-mediated diseases. We can try to limit the causes to a certain point and we can give the dog prescribed medication, however, this usually only provides short-term relief or improvement. Inevitably they will rear their ugly heads again sooner or later.
An allergy is an abnormal response to something in the environment. It is very common in people and is the same in dogs. A substance capable of causing an allergy is called an allergen. People, dogs and other animals that are allergic need only come into contact with very small amounts of an allergen to cause the reaction, the symptoms.
Skin problems in dogs are commonly caused by allergic inhalant dermatitis (hay fever, atopy). While humans have mast cells in the respiratory passages that become inflamed and cause sneezing, dogs inhale the pollen but develop atopy in the skin. Dogs don’t usually sneeze with atopy; most are itchy which causes them to lick, chew and scratch.
When your dog suffers with inhalant allergies it’s impossible to avoid the allergens as the pollen is pretty much everywhere, even though surprisingly, only about 1% of the total weight of pollen contains the allergic portion!
This doesn’t sound too bad, however when you consider that the ragweed plant can produce 1 billion pollen grains and most pollens and moulds can travel 30 miles in the wind ( Ackerman, L., D.V.M. ; Skin and haircoat problems in dogs ; Alpine Publications, 1994) … that’s pretty impossible to avoid them.
There are a few ways we can minimize the effects of inhalant allergies, the natural way.
1. What are you feeding your dog? I am a big advocate of raw feeding because I can see the benefits in my dogs. Well-balanced raw food is easier for the body to digest and the nutrients are absorbed more efficiently. A raw food diet also strengthens your dog’s immune system and helps fight allergens. I even tried this on myself. Of course, I don’t eat raw meat, bones & offal … but a few years ago I switched to a plant-based diet. My summer hay fever is minimal, and I haven’t had an antihistamine for years.
2. Honey contains small amounts of bee pollen, beeswax and propolis, and they have the ability to help with pollen allergies. As we already know, an allergy is caused by certain pollen which you will also find in your local raw honey. By consuming your local raw honey, you or your dog, will naturally develop immunity to the pollen and the adverse effects will be reduced.
“An allergy is an abnormal response to something in the environment. It is very common in people and is the same in dogs.”
3. Apply Paw Butter. If your dog gets irritated paws (redness, excessive licking after a walk) and redness or rash on the skin on his belly, you can apply the Paw Butter on these areas before the walkies. Because the Paw Butter is oil-based, not water-based like creams, it stays on the skin longer and makes a film, a protective layer on the skin. The butter will not only protect the skin from allergens but will also moisturise the skin, and it’s both antipruritic and anti-inflammatory.
4. Use Apple cider vinegar mixed with water to rinse for your dog’s feet. You can make a 50/50 mixture in a spray bottle and apply directly onto your dog’s paws. Don’t use it on open wounds!
5. Bathing your dog at home is very effective, cheap and the sensible thing to do in order to remove the allergens from the coat and skin. Bathing provides immediate relief and the guideline is to bath your itchy dog at least once a week.
Go for a natural shampoo, containing coconut oil, argan oil, charcoal, jojoba oil, neem oil, calendula oil and essential oils like lavender, peppermint and chamomile. Read the label carefully because some shampoos contain natural and/or organic ingredients but can still contain some toxic chemicals.
Avoid shampoos with:
- Added dyes or colourants
- Artificial fragrances, as they are linked to allergies, headaches etc.
- Mineral oils
- Stearalkonium Chloride
6. If your dog already has an allergic reaction on his skin you can use Skin Relief. It is specially designed for dogs suffering from allergies. The cooling and anti-inflammatory properties of Skin Relief will reduce the redness very quickly, it will also reduce the itchiness, and the peppermint oil in the spray helps with the pain relief.
If your dog suffers from environmental allergies here are also few tips on how you can look after his/ her home environment:
1. Choose dog beds that are easily washable – in between washing you can use bicarbonate soda, lavender and orange essential oils to fight the mites.
Mix 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate soda with 3 drops of lavender and 3 drops of sweet orange essential oils. Sprinkle on your dog’s bed, leave for few minutes and then thoroughly hoover.
Bicarbonate soda is a great cleaning product for all surfaces and as a bonus, it absorbs smells.
2. Wash the toys – fabric toys can be washed with the beds. Instead of using common chemical cleaning products to clean rubber balls, Kongs, and squeaky rubber or plastic toys… why not try diluted bicarbonate soda or vinegar?
3. For cleaning and disinfecting – dilute vinegar with water 1:1 and wipe the toys. This mixture is also very good for cleaning windows.
I’m Jitka, happy dog mum to 5 mischievous terriers. I’ve always been passionate about dogs and being in the pet industry for over 30 years. Including winning international dog grooming competitions, representing England and being placed at the World Team Championship, winning Dog Grooming Salon of the Year award.
The knowledge I’ve gained over the years, plus my diplomas in canine massage and clinical aromatherapy, have led me to be the proud founder of Vita Canis – natural aromatherapy products for dogs.
My personal belief to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle. And it is a key driving force in how I run my business, which is at the core of all my product development.
For more information www.vitacanis.co.uk