It's Allergy Season!
By Taya Hosking - 30/11/22
Itchy skin, unpredictable bowel movements, or a runny nose?
These are the allergies you need to know about.
During seasonal changes and unusual weather conditions, allergies such as hay fever, rashes and flare ups of skin conditions often begin to occur.
Although we usually associate seasonal allergies with humans, dogs can also be sufferers and it is becoming more and more common.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is when the immune system is in a state of over-reactivity or hypersensitivity to a particular substance (called an allergen).
Most commonly, allergens are associated with plants, insects, animals or foods, specifically the proteins in them (C.Barnette, 2022).
Allergies are basically an unnecessary immune response to a benign foreign substance (eg. plant isn’t exactly harmful, yet to some if can be).
Reactions to the allergen can differ, however most commonly it occurs when a protein molecule from the allergen, combines with antibodies in the blood, and attaches to a mast cell. These mast cells are found in tissues throughout the entire body, and release potent chemicals, known as histamines, which cause the symptoms you associate with reactions.
These symptoms may include redness, swelling and itching, which is due to inflammation.
In dogs, allergies may present themselves in different symptoms such as itching (either localised or generalised), in the respiratory system (coughing, sneezing, wheezing), or in the digestive system (vomiting and diarrhea).
How to treat an allergy?
Depending on the type of allergy your dog is experiencing, will depend on the approach you take towards it.
For instant relief, the use of antihistamines or corticosteroids may be prescribed by your veterinarian.
These provide relief by blocking the allergic reaction in the immune system. In extension to this, using fatty acid supplementation in your dog’s diet can improve their immune system’s inflammatory responses.
This is because they contain Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), three compounds which contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Try Pet Drs Mega Oil for a plant based fatty acid supplement formulated from flaxseed oil, sunflower seed oil, and evening primrose oil, to name a few ingredients.
The second approach is ‘shampoo therapy’. This involves bathing your dog with hypoallergenic shampoo to assist with soothing skin which may be itchy and inflamed. Many dogs may actually experience reactions to the standard shampoos stocked on the shelf in your favourite pet store, due to the chemical compounds included in their formula.
Whilst using a hypoallergenic shampoo can assist their skin, the act of bathing can also have benefits as it washes away allergens on the coat which may have otherwise been absorbed into the skin.
If you notice your dog starting to become irritated after going for a walk, that’s probably a good time to give them a wash.
Try Pet Drs Natural Shampoo for a gentle and calming wash, which will nourish and protect your dog’s coat and skin.
As with the antihistamine approach which requires oral intake of a substance to assist with the allergen, there is also the topical approach.
This includes treating the allergen externally through the use of a cream or gel. This approach does not prevent the allergen, but reduces the symptoms of it when it does occur.
Pet Drs Derma Cream and Hot Spot Gel can be used in conjunction to soothe and hydrate, itching/irritated/inflamed skin.
What about food allergies?
As humans have reactions to different food groups, so can pets.
The proteins which are most commonly known to be allergens are those from dairy, beef, chicken (and their eggs), and gluten. Yes, those substances are some of the most common ones that are fed to dogs.
These food allergies occur when the immune system overreacts and produces antibodies to the allergen substance.
Antibody production is part of the development of an allergy (as they have to be produced in order for an allergy to develop), and therefore the allergy may not present itself straight away, but rather over prolonged exposure to the food. This is why dogs may not present with symptoms, and then all of a sudden develop a reaction.
For dogs that do have allergic reactions, it may be hard to find them a brand of food which is appropriate for them (due to cross contamination etc).
Many may take the approach of preparing food for their dog themselves, from the raw ingredient components. It is important to ensure that dogs that may have food allergies/are on restricted diets, are still receiving the nutrients that they need in their diet, as well as ensuring they have abundant flora in their microbiome (otherwise this could lead to further allergies down the track).
Supplementing your dog’s diet may be the easiest way to ensure they are receiving all the nutrition that they need.
Pet Drs Gut & Immunity Supplement is a pre and probiotic supplement to assist gut microbiome, as well as general health too.
Not only does it contain ingredients to keep the tummy happy, but it contains every day nutrients to keep your pet thriving such as vitamin c, dietary fibre and zinc.