When we think about allergies our pets are experiencing, we often are talking about food allergies… but what about environmental allergies? The symptoms of food and environmental allergies may be similar, but they require different treatments. If your pet has allergy symptoms, keep reading – we are about to get into what causes environmental allergies and how to manage them using holistic solutions.
What Causes Environmental Allergies in Dogs?
Allergies occur when your pet’s immune system overreacts to something in their environment – this is known as the “trigger.” That trigger could be pollen, dust, mold, or other airborne substances. It is typical for your pet’s body to respond to these airborne substances because the antibodies in their immune system think these substances are dangerous.
The good news is that environmental allergies in pets are usually seasonal. The typical seasons that these itchy, bothersome symptoms occur are spring and fall, with fewer symptoms during winter or summer months.
Here are some of the common symptoms of allergies:
- Itching and scratching
- Ear infections (sometimes chronic)
- Hair loss
- Chewing or licking paw pads
- Sneezing or wheezing
- Runny Eyes and/or nose
How To Treat Environmental Allergies
Well, they say the best way to protect your dog is to keep them away from the source of the irritation. We know that is not practical with environmental allergies. If your dog is allergic to tree pollen, or flowers springing up, you can’t be expected to keep them indoors for weeks on end waiting for the season to pass.
If you have been to the vet for this issue, they probably have suggested steroids, or an anti-allergy drug like Atopica, Apoquel or Cytopoint. Sure, these drugs provide relief, because they temporarily suppress part of your dog’s immune response. This comes at a cost because it also makes your dog more vulnerable to other diseases and side effects. For instance, relying on Benadryl for relief from allergies can overload your pet with too much histamine. This can lead to more serious allergic reactions, food sensitivities, capillary damage, and a lot more. When we use Benadryl to relieve our pet’s itching, the problem goes away… or seems to. Unfortunately, removing the symptoms doesn’t get at the root of the problem. The underlying problem causing the itching remains, so the itching will keep coming back. These quick fixes don’t cure anything, they just hide the symptoms for a while.
So, if you can’t remove the allergen from your living situation and you want to stay away from dangerous drugs, how can you ease your dog’s suffering? There are quite a few natural solutions that can help.
Natural Solutions For Environmental Allergies
All mammals produce colostrum in mother’s first milk. This provides newborns with maternal antibodies until they develop their own immune systems. The excess colostrum from cows is now available to help manage your dogs allergies.
Cows have immunity to common allergens because they have an antibody known as IgG (1). When you feed your dog colostrum, he benefits from those antibodies. Colostrum also has a substance called proline-rich polypeptide (PRP). This is an anti-inflammatory and there’s research supporting this (2). It may also create special T-cells to stop the allergic response.
You can give your dog colostrum in a powder or a capsule. If it’s a powder, your dog can just lick it from your hand, or you can add it in at meal time. Give 1/16 tsp per 25lbs of body weight. Small dogs can have 1 capsule, and 2 capsules daily for medium to large dogs.
Four Leaf Rover is a wonderful supplement line that we carry in-store that happens to have a Bovine Colostrum product derived from grass-fed cows. It’s rich in immune-boosting antibodies and proteins, to help promote a robust immune system.
Bee Pollen is rich with enzymes from the bees themselves. Bees collect pollen from all kinds of different flowers. And that means it’s likely they’ve collected pollen that makes your dog itch.
When you give your dog a small amount of the pollen, it can desensitize him to the pollens by building up tolerance to it over time. This provides allergy protection, because bee pollen contains quercetin, a natural antihistamine. When it is taken regularly, it can help reduce allergy symptoms and allergic reactions. Here is what you should look for when buying bee pollen for allergy relief:
- Pollen should come from local bees with allergens from your area!
- Use a small amount to start with… like one granule the first day with your pet’s food. Watch for a response. If there is no response you can proceed to increase by a granule a day over several weeks. Eventually, you want to give 1 tsp per 30 lbs of body weight daily.
Messner Bee Farm is a Kansas City, MO local bee farm! So, if you live in our area, check out their supply of local bee pollen.
Your dog is constantly in contact with allergens on the ground, so itchy paws and skin are a common allergic reaction. Raw, organic apple cider vinegar can help to provide relief. Here are some ways to use apple cider vinegar to bring your dog some comfort:
Keep a large bowl or a paw washer, like the Dexas Mudbuster at the door with the following:
- 1 part apple cider vinegar
- 2 parts water
When your dog comes in, soak their paws for about 5 minutes. Don’t rinse off the solution but dry their paws thoroughly.
Another tip – if having this solution on hand is too much for your busy lifestyle, you can use a paw cleansing spray instead.
Skout’s Honor’s Hypoallergenic Probiotic Paw Spray is great for soothing, cleansing, and relieving itchy, stinky, irritated paws. It is easy to have by your backdoor, or to pack along with you on a trip. This formula is scientifically proven to naturally eradicate and prevent the growth of yeast and fungus on pets’ skin, which are two of the leading causes of itchy, irritated, stinky paws.
Leave the outside, outside
For this step we recommend using Hypoallergenic Pet Wipes to cleanse your pet’s coat after you return from outside to clean off any pollen, dust, or mites off your pet’s fur and help lessen their reactions to environmental allergies. Earthbath has a few hypoallergenic grooming wipe options that are very convenient to use when trying to quickly remove outside allergens.
Bathing your pet once a week with a mild shampoo will help relieve pain and itching and increase healing and recovery from any infections. We recommend using a very mild PH balanced shampoo paired with a mild conditioner. Skout’s Honor’s probiotic shampoos & conditioners for dogs & cats will hydrate the skin and coat, and are great for healthy pets or pets who are suffering from skin allergies. It contains avocado oil and topical probiotics that help support a healthy microbiome to defend against common skin problems and even Atopic Dermatitis!
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with natural antihistamine compounds to stop allergic reactions without suppressing the immune system. There’s also been research into quercetin establishing that it can turn off histamine production (3). It can stop the production of inflammatory molecules and prevent itching.
Some fruits and vegetables contain quercetin. You can add these to your dog’s diet:
- Apples (including the skin)
You can also give a dog supplement that has quercetin – Four Leaf Rover’s Red Rover Suppplement provides powerful antioxidants for immune support. Red Rover was designed to help deliver a range of immune-boosting polyphenols. They included organic apple skins for quercetin and blueberries for anthocyanin, which help support the brain and nervous system. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants, which help fight oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
Here are a few herbs with anti-allergy properties:
Nettles contain histamines that can help protect your dog from allergens. They offer many benefits outside of relieving environmental allergies – and are a good all-around herb to introduce into your pet’s daily diet. Nettles not only boost your pet’s immune system, but they are also natural diuretics that help your cat and dog get rid of waste from the body and are a great natural remedy for those pets that often suffer from allergies. Nettles are also a cooling herb, so they work well for those pets that are always hot.
Some products we carry in-store that have nettle in the ingredients are:
Earth Animal Allergy & Skin – A relieving, organic herbal blend that helps maintain healthy skin and soothes skin-related issues associated with seasonal allergies. It also aids in calming irritations of the skin caused from insect bites. This product is for use in dogs and cats only.
Animal Essentials Seasonal Allergy – An alcohol-free, sweet tasting glycerin herbal tincture designed to safely help relieve occasional seasonal allergies. It helps regulate histamine release during allergic episodes. Suitable for dogs and cats.
Glacier Peak Holistic Daily Defense – Designed to support a naturally healthy body. It is a safe and gentle daily detox for the liver and kidneys as it contains herbs traditionally known to detoxify the kidneys and liver. It also has herbs known to contain high amounts of organic vitamins and minerals which make it a great nutritional supplement. Available for dogs, cats, and horses.
Milk Thistle is also very effective at tackling chronic skin disease such as seasonal allergies in the Spring or Fall especially allergic dermatitis. In addition, it can be used for any liver disease or kidney, spleen, or bladder problems.
When purchasing a Milk Thistle tincture, the purity and quality of the product is essential. A product of inferior quality can contain mold and cause more issues for your pet rather than helping them. That’s why we believe in the effectiveness and purity of Adored Beast’s Liver Tonic, and Animal Essentials Detox Blend. Each of these products contain Milk Thistle that is organically grown and freshly ground. Best mixed with your pet’s food am and pm.
Why is turmeric beneficial for dogs? Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine have used turmeric for more than 4,000 years. The health benefits of turmeric for dogs are Anti-inflammation, antibacterial, digestive aid, and pain relief. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin. This compound contains anti-inflammatory properties and may be a gentler alternative to ibuprofen and aspirin, thus helping dogs and cats with the pain and itching associated with allergies. Turmeric boasts naturally – occurring antihistamine properties, and can work as a decongestant!
We carry an organic liquid turmeric supplement for dogs called Kangaroo Dogs. This line is an organic broad spectrum natural supplement with 100% natural ingredients. This product is more bioavailable than the powder turmeric found at the grocery store. Offering more digestibility, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal benefits making it effective in wound healing and allergy relief!
Other Tips For Environmental Allergies In Dogs
- Feed a fresh, raw diet to boost gut health and improve your dog’s natural immunity.
- Change your furnace filter often to keep the air in your home allergen-free.
- Stop using plug in air fresheners like Glade in your household. Instead, try a pet safe deodorizing product like Pet House Candles – options include candles, car fresheners, wax melts and house sprays that are safe for cats and dogs.
- When you vacuum, let your dog spend time in a different room. Vacuuming can stir up dust and cause the allergies to spike.
- Give your pet a good old-fashioned wipe down with a damp cloth or towel. It helps to remove the offending allergens from their coat. We also recommend changing your clothes when coming back from a walk with your dog.
- Replace your chemical cleaning products with more natural options. This protects your dog from harmful ingredients in cleaning products and avoids allergies to those toxins. Other cleaning products we don’t think to change are laundry detergent and dryer sheets!
- Check your house for mold and get it removed – mold is harmful to everyone in your home, not just your pets!
These simple tips and natural remedies can help relieve environmental allergies to keep your pets comfortable all year long. Need help deciding which products are best for your pet? Stop in to your nearest Brookside Barkery & Bath to chat with one of our nutrition experts today.
1. Hurley WL, Theil PK. Perspectives on immunoglobulins in colostrum and milk. Nutrients. 2011;3(4):442-474.
2. A M Keech. Peptide Immunotherapy: The Use of Bovine Colostrum Proline-Rich Polypeptides in Cytokine Modulation for the Alternative Relief of Allergic Symptoms. J Allergy Clinical Immunology, Vol 119, Issue 1, Supplement S260, January 1 2007.
3. Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules. 2016 May 12;21(5):623.