What Are the Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs & Cats?
Allergies are becoming more and more common and troublesome in cats and dogs. The most common symptoms we see are excessive scratching, licking and paw chewing. If you have ruled out other causes of your companion’s itchiness such as mange, ringworm or infection, then the following guidelines can help you alleviate the allergy itch.
Other allergy symptoms (typically from inhalant allergies):
- chronic ear infections
- respiratory symptoms such as coughing or nasal congestion
- eye discharge
Additional symptoms of food allergies:
- inflammatory bowel disease
Some holistic veterinarians also believe that seizures, arthritis, asthma and chronic urinary tract infections can be caused or complicated by food allergies.
Keep in mind that any secondary bacterial or yeast infections must be treated before much progress can be seen in remediation of the underlying cause of the itchy skin. Hot spots occur from self-inflicted trauma that results when the pet attempts to relieve a pain or itch by excessive scratching, biting and rubbing. These must be controlled with topical treatments while the animal’s immune system is recovering.
Itchy skin and allergy symptoms such as paw chewing have also been linked to over-vaccination in a large number of cases. See What You Need to Know About Vaccinations for more details.
One of the most common causes of itchy skin is fleas and flea allergies. If you suspect fleas, please see our article, The Natural Approach to Flea Control. Flea control is an essential step in the treatment plan for any animal with allergies.
"Some holistic veterinarians also believe that seizures, arthritis, asthma and chronic urinary tract infections can be caused or complicated by food allergies."
Essential Steps: Diet, Digestive Enzymes, EFAs
Diet: Many dogs with food sensitivities and allergies have seen dramatic improvement on a raw food diet. If not raw, consider home-prepared cooked meals along with a very high quality canned food or dehydrated food as at least 50% of the diet. Basically, the fresher the diet, the better it is for your companion’s health & immune system. If you feed kibble as part of the diet, try to use the best quality you can afford and choose a hypoallergenic variety without the most common allergens such as wheat, corn, soy and chicken. For more information, read What You Need to Know About Your Pet's Food and All About Raw Food.
Digestive Enzymes: Supplement the diet with Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics. The probiotics are especially important for an animal that has been on steroids and antibiotics as they kill the healthy gut flora and set up conditions for the allergies to worsen. Continue to supplement with this whenever you feed processed food to aid digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in processed foods: Digestive Enzymes.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs): Supplement with Essential Fatty Acids (preferably fish oil) to nourish your companion’s skin and coat and help reduce inflammation. You can increase the dosage above what is recommended on the bottle, but if you see loose stools, then reduce the dosage a bit.
Supplements to help modulate the immune system are very helpful in treating allergies. Only Natural Pet Immune Balance is an excellent supplement for immune modulation during the initial treatment of allergies.
Detoxification is essential for any animal that has been treated with multiple courses of medications such as steroids, antibiotics or antihistamines. Steroids are particularly taxing on the animal’s liver.
- Quercenol by Seven Forests
- Only Natural Pet Blood and System Herbal Formula
- Animals’ Apawthecary Constitutional Blend
- Animals’ Apawthecary Detox Blend
- Newton Homeopathics Detoxifer
The length of time these supplements may be necessary will vary with the severity of the problem and the response of the individual animal. Natural supplements, herbs and remedies are not like prescription medications - they may vary in effectiveness from one animal to the next, and in many instances take time to reach full effectiveness, up to several weeks or more.
"Herbs and supplements designed to relieve the itchy skin and support skin health are another step in the treatment program for chronic allergies. This can help relieve the stress caused by the discomfort, which is supportive of immune function and healing."
Relieving the Itch
Herbs and supplements designed to relieve the itchy skin and support skin health are another step in the treatment program for chronic allergies. This can help relieve the stress caused by the discomfort, which is supportive of immune function and healing. In addition, reducing the itch helps in the reduction of secondary infections and allows the skin to heal.
Skin Balance by Health Concerns is an excellent herbal complex for the treatment of itchy skin in dogs (the tablets are too big for cats and need to be crushed to adminster them to cats). The herbs in Skin Balance reduce inflammation and itching as well as boost skin health and assist in the cleansing of the blood.
HomeoPet Skin and Itch Relief, a homeopathic remedy, may be helpful for some animals. This will be more effective once any residual steroids or medications have been cleared from the system. HomeoPet Hot Spots is similar to the Skin and Itch Relief formula, but contains additional remedies to address the red, inflamed or oozing hot spot areas.
If your dog or cat has been itching for awhile, they may have created bare, red patches in places that can become infected, so you need to address these areas right away. Here are some products offered at Only Natural Pet that can help.
- FidoDerm Herbal Spray
- Doc Ackerman's Instant Hot Spot Relief Spray
- Oatmeal Baths followed by conditioner to seal in moisture
If more potent topical treatment is necessary, your veterinarian can prescribe a topical medication.