Pet Nutritionist,by Susan Blake Davis, www.AskAriel.com
Susan Blake Davis is on staff at VCA Arroyo Animal Hospital and offers in person
and telephone pet health consultations.
The hot weather seems to be the worst of times for our poor pets. They chew, lick, scratch, scoot and tear their hair out. Their paws turn red and they get ear infections as well as hot spots. While it could be fleas, mites, parasites or mange, most of the time, it is allergies! Just as many of us experience hay fever and develop respiratory symptoms, our pets with allergies often develop skin issues. Allergies can be both environmental and food related.
Conventional veterinary treatment for allergies involves treatment with cortisone, antibiotics, allergy shots, antihistamines, shampoos and topical treatments. All of these can give our pets much needed relief in the short-term. However, many times the symptoms return as soon as the medicines wear off. This is where holistic veterinary care can become especially valuable. Holistic veterinary care offers expanded treatment options in addition to conventional veterinary care and can help identify the underlying cause of your pet’s discomfort.
Keep in mind the following:
1) Allergies are cumulative. In other words, a pet may have both food and environ-mental allergies but the symptoms only become noticeable during certain times of the year. This doesn’t mean your pet doesn’t have allergic reactions all the time. It just means that the situation builds up similar to a balloon that fills up with air until it pops. In your pet’s case, it may mean that all of a sudden your pet has hot spots or starts chewing on its paws during the hot summer months but most likely has underlying issues all year round. Similarly, pet’s allergy symptoms often worsen each year as they age due to the cumulative effect of allergies on the pet’s immune system.
2) Many times pets have BOTH food and environmental allergies. Be sure your pet is eating a special hypoallergenic diet. There is no “one” allergy diet that works for everyone. Each pet is different. You will need to try a few diets and/or learn how to prepare a homemade diet. Pet nutritionists and other veterinary professionals can help you determine what is best for your pet.
Avoid these common allergens as they can trigger itching and scratching:
Common Allergens in Pet Food
-Gluten (found in wheat, barley, spelt, oats and other grains)
-Casein (found in cheese)
-Beef (problem for some dogs)
-Chicken (problem for some cats and dogs)
-Fish (cats can often be allergic)
-Peanut Butter (big allergen!)
3) Use supplements to help your pet cope with allergy season to reduce inflammation and overall discomfort. Be sure to include a generous amount of Omega 3s from fish or flax oil, bioflavanoids such as quercetin, digestive enzymes and an effective probiotic. Bee Pollen can be helpful for some pets with allergies. There are also some homeopathic and Chinese remedies that are very helpful for controlling allergy symptoms.
4) Topical treatments can provide a great deal of relief. Therapeutic baths and topical treatments can help greatly. If your pet is allergic to grass, try washing paws after going outside. Natural sprays such as colloidal silver can provide soothing relief. Medications can provide short-term relief but a comprehensive holistic protocol can help heal your pet’s allergies for the long-term. If your pet has allergies, always schedule a visit with your veterinarian first to be sure that all other health problems have been ruled out and that any potential infections are being properly addressed. Using a combination of both conventional and holistic veterinary medicine seems to deliver the best results for pets with allergies and skin problems.