An allergy is an abnormal response to something in the environment. It is very common in people and is the same in dogs. A substance capable of causing an allergy is called an allergen. People, dogs and other animals that are allergic need only come into contact with very small amounts of allergen to cause the reaction, the symptoms.
Skin problems in dogs are commonly caused by allergic inhalant dermatitis (hay fever, atopy). While humans have mast cells in the respiratory passages that become inflamed and cause sneezing, dogs inhale the pollen but develop atopy in the skin. Dogs don’t usually sneeze with atopy; most are itchy which causes them to lick, chew and scratch.*
When your dog suffers with inhalant allergies it’s impossible to avoid the allergens as the pollen is pretty much everywhere, even though surprisingly, only about 1% of the total weight of a pollen contains the allergic portion! This doesn’t sound too bad, however when you consider that the ragweed plant can produce 1 billion pollen grains and most pollens and molds can travel 30 miles in the wind … that’s pretty impossible to avoid them.*
There are a few ways we can minimize the effects of the inhalant allergies, the natural way.
- Apply Paw Butter – if your dog gets irritated paws (redness, excessive licking after a walk) and redness or rash on the skin on his belly, you can apply the Paw Butter on these areas before the walkies. Because the Paw Butter is oil-based, not water-based like creams, it stays on the skin longer and makes a film, a protective layer on the skin. The butter will not only protect the skin from the allergens but it will also moisturise the skin, and it’s both antipruritic and anti-inflammatory.
- Use Apple cider vinegar mixed with water to rinse for your dog’s feet. You can make a 50/50 mixture in a spray bottle and apply directly onto your dog’s paws. Don’t use it on open wounds!
- If your dog already has an allergic reaction on his skin you can use Skin Relief. It is specially designed for dogs suffering from allergies. The cooling and anti-inflammatory properties of Skin Relief will reduce the redness very quickly, it will also reduce the itchiness, and the peppermint oil in the spray helps with the pain relief.
- What are you feeding your dog? I am a big advocate of raw feeding, because I can see the benefits in my dogs. Well balanced raw food is easier for the body to digest and the nutrients are absorbed more efficiently. A raw food diet also strengthens your dog’s immune system, and helps fight the allergens. I even tried this on me. Of course I don’t eat raw meat, bones & offal … but a few years ago I switched to a plant based diet. My summer hay fever is minimal, and I haven’t had an antihistamine for about 3 years.
- Add coconut oil to your dog’s diet. Coconut oil has many benefits including:
Reduces allergic reactions
Boosts the immune system
Aids the digestion system
6. Honey contains small amounts of bee pollen, beeswax and propolis, and they have the ability to help with pollen allergies. As we already know, an allergy is caused by certain pollen which you will also find in your local raw honey. By consuming your local raw honey, you or your dog, will naturally develop immunity to the pollen and the adverse effects will be reduced.
* Ackerman, L., D.V.M. ; Skin and haircoat problems in dogs ; Alpine Publications, 1994