Our 6 year old German Shepherd mix, Bailey, has allergies. Every summer from July through September or October he goes crazy! He licks his front legs and gets hot spots on his hind legs that he licks until they are raw and hairless, (not very appealing on a dog). He also scratches at his mouth until his gums swell up and sometimes bleed. Bailey also tends to throw up easily during these months. Our veterinarian did allergy tests and he tested positive for various grasses, weeds, trees and foods. We put him on a prescription diet of fish and potatoes from the veterinarian, but last summer he was as bad as ever - we had to put him in an Elizabethan collar to keep him from scratching himself so badly. Are there any natural remedies or supplements that could help poor Bailey be more comfortable this summer?
The Hawkins Boulder, CO
Fighting Seasonal Allergies with 7 Steps
Dear Hawkins Family,
Yes, there are some things you can do to help Bailey with his seasonal allergies. Without more specifics of Bailey’s history (i.e., onset of problem, medication used & response to medication, possibility of over-vaccination, etc. – please see The Truth About Pet Vaccinations in our Articles section), I can only give a somewhat general treatment plan.
Seasonal allergies are usually inhalant or flea allergies. Food allergies are usually not seasonal and blood tests are poor indicators of food allergy. Food, however, is where you need to start.
- Diet Change: Slowly introduce real food to his diet -- homemade or frozen raw food. Diet is the foundation of good health and this is the most important thing you can do for him. Many dogs with seasonal allergies have seen dramatic improvement on a real food diet. Avoid any grains he was found to be allergic to just to be safe. Try different types of meats, even those that he tested allergic to, and then avoid any that seem to aggravate his condition. Start by going completely with real food for a month or so, then reintroduce high quality dry kibble, freeze-dried, or dehydrated food as a portion of the diet if desired. Please see "What You Need to Know About Your Pet's Food."
- Essential Fatty Acids: The best source is from fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and help immune function. I always recommend Salmon Oil.
- Vitamin E: Compounds the benefits as the fish oil, and is a good antioxidant. 400 IU per day. You can use the Vitamin E that you would buy for yourself at a reputable vitamin and supplement store.
- Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics: Use these during the transition to real food and consider continuing for several months while Bailey’s gut heals and adjusts. Always use Digestive Enzymes when feeding processed food (canned, dry, dehydrated, etc). Please see our Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics.
- Immune Modulation with Plant Sterols: Aids in proper functioning of the immune system while dampening overactive antibody responses such as allergic reactions. See our Immune Support Products.
- Chinese Herbs: In Traditional Chinese Medical terms Bailey is suffering from wind (itching), heat (redness), damp (oozing), and blood deficiency (dryness, poor coat) problems. Take a look at Chinese Herbal Skin Care Products to support Bailey’s system through the healing process.
- Oatmeal Shampoo: During Bailey’s worst months you may need to bathe him frequently to remove allergens from his skin and coat. Use an oatmeal shampoo that soothes the skin. Only Natural Pet's shampoo product selection can be found here.