Fleas, Flora and Food are all potential allergens that can plague our pets seasonally or year round. I know this first hand because I have two dogs allergic to both fleas and oak pollen! We battle pollen allergies from February through June every year!
I am not alone in the battle. So many of my customers come to see me the same time each year listing the same problems that Abe and Chico (my dogs) have.
The three main causes of pet allergies are fleas, inhalant allergens (grass, pollen, carpet, smoke, you get the picture…) and food. Here are a few ways to make your pets feel more comfortable:
1. Control Fleas– The most often overlooked allergy, 40% of dogs suffer from flea allergies. There are over 15 antigens in a flea’s saliva which means that one bite can wreak havoc on your sensitive dog or cat for up to two weeks. To combat this, you can use a few all natural remedies such as feeding a healthy diet, diatomaceous earth, a flea comb, bathing regularly and essential oils (dogs only) in addition to a monthly flea medicine regime. The healthier the dog or cat, the less likely fleas will make their move. Fleas are attracted to a weak host.
2. Flora– or inhalant allergies- are the most difficult to alleviate! Our pets can be allergic to grass, smoke, flowers, pollen, dirt, carpet, etc.
a. Fish Oil– Adding Omega 3 to your dog’s diet will help boost their immune response and reduce inflammation in the body. Thus reducing itchiness and fostering healthy coats. EPA is the most important Omega 3 to supplement with when you are combating allergies. Ask your veterinarian for your pet’s recommended dose and keep in mind that sometimes it takes from 9-12 weeks to see a positive change because of the added oil.
b. Shampoo/Conditioner– be sure to use a detergent/chemical free shampoo and conditioner. One made with natural ingredients will make a marked improvement in your dog’s coat. Oatmeal based shampoo will help condition the coat and a Tea Tree oil based shampoo will handle hot spots.
Want to make your own? Get the recipe for our apple cider vinegar based shampoo seen on Daytime TV and ehow.com here.
4 cups of warm water
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of unscented liquid Castile soap
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Three drops of Lavendar Oil (for dogs only)
Apple Cider Vinegar is great for so many reasons. It is a natural flea preventative, kills bacteria and improves coat condition.
If you plan to use ACV without dilution or do not plan to wash it off of your dog, spot test it first to ensure that your dog’s skin will not be irritated. Using it diluted or rinsing it off after use should prevent this problem.
If vinegar is not your thing or you know it is too drying for your pet’s coat, check out our vinegar free recipe here.
c. Brush– This simple act is often overlooked by pet owners but is so important. Brushing helps reduce shedding and bacterial build up
3. Food– everyone assumes their pet has a food allergy, but the reality is, only about 10% of pets do. Dogs and cats can have food sensitivities that may manifest as skin allergies. If you suspect that your dog or cat has a food allergy first try changing their food to something with no corn, wheat, soy or gluten products. If you haven’t seen a change in 6-8 weeks, then try changing the protein source…e.g. if you are feeding a beef diet, try chicken, or if you are feeding chicken try fish.
Allergies are challenging. Trust me, I know all too well. Keep the faith. Try a few natural remedies and remember that everything takes time to work. If you have to use prescription or OTC meds that is ok too. In my opinion, it is better to have a calm pet that feels good than to make them miserable waiting for something else to work.
The above recommendations work synergistically with veterinarian prescribed medications. The goal would be to reduce the amount of meds over time because the all natural remedies are kicking in.
Good luck this allergy season!