Springtime brings warmer weather and longer days, but it also brings something much less enjoyable: seasonal allergies. Tree pollen and mold spores are the main airborne culprits this time of year, their allergenic mayhem enhanced by Albuquerque’s spring winds. Seasonal allergies can make pets just as miserable as people who suffer from allergies, but there are natural, effective ways to minimize your pet’s discomfort.
Seasonal allergies in humans usually result in “sneezy-wheezy” symptoms: sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, and coughing. In dogs and cats, however, seasonal allergies are more likely to manifest as skin-related problems such as itching, inflammation (redness), skin infections (e.g., hot spots), excessive shedding, and chronic ear infections. If you notice your pet frequently scratching, licking, scooting, or chewing on herself, these are signs that she may be suffering from an allergy of some sort. Respiratory issues can occur too, and are more commonly seen in cats than dogs.
Making your pet more comfortable during allergy season requires a three-pronged approach:
- Reducing exposure to allergens
- Managing symptoms
- Supporting immune system health
When airborne allergens are prevalent, limit your pet’s time outside and maintain a clean indoor environment for her. Keep windows closed, vacuum and dust regularly, use natural cleaning products throughout the house, and wash bedding frequently with a hypoallergenic laundry soap. After trips outside, use grooming wipes to remove dust, pollen, and environmental pollutants that accumulate on your dog’s coat and feet. For regular pet bathing, choose gentle, all-natural, hypoallergenic shampoos and conditioners that will not dry out and irritate skin.
Most importantly, make sure you are feeding your pet an all-natural, species-appropriate diet made with quality ingredients in order to minimize the overall load of toxins, irritants, and allergens her body must deal with. Ingredients to always avoid: corn, wheat, soy, by-products, unnamed meats, high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars, propylene glycol, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and artificial preservatives. Foods to seek out: low-carb, grain-free, potato-free formulas that contain beneficial ingredients such as fish oil, coconut oil, probiotics, and phytonutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and botanicals.
When the symptoms of seasonal allergies do arise in your pet, it’s imperative to take action quickly to prevent skin infections and hot spots from excessive scratching and licking. Supplements containing natural anti-inflammatories (burdock, nettles, licorice, CBD/hemp) and natural antihistamines (quercetin, Vitamin C, MSM, medicinal mushrooms) may provide enough relief without having to resort to pharmaceutical antihistamines or steroids.
The external application of products containing neem oil or coconut oil can soothe and condition irritated skin. A baking soda spray or paste can also quickly calm inflamed skin. Colloidal silver, in spray or salve form, is “nature’s antibiotic” and helpful in healing up hot spots and other skin irritations. Sprays and shampoos containing pet-safe levels of tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil can speed healing of hot spots and other minor skin issues. CBD/hemp salves work great too!
For ongoing protection of skin, a daily dose of fish oil provides omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation throughout the body and condition the skin from the inside out. Please note that it is important to use fish oils rather than plant-sourced oils (such as flax) because dogs and cats do not efficiently convert the long-chain fatty acids in plant oils into the beneficial DHA and EPA forms they can utilize.
Did you know that over 70% of the immune system is located in the gut? Maintaining a healthy digestive tract that is free from inflammation and populated with well-fed beneficial microbes (probiotics) helps keep the entire immune system in balance and less likely to overreact to external allergens. Keep your pet’s digestive tract – and immune system – functioning properly with a daily regimen of dietary probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes.
Other natural supplements are available that specifically address immune system health. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a body suffering from allergies is in a state of excess heat (yang). Supplements containing proprietary blends of Chinese herbs can cool this excess heat and harmonize the body's defenses and liver functions. Medicinal mushrooms, particularly reishi and maitake, are also known modulators of the immune system. By helping to regulate the components of the immune system that overreact in allergic reactions, medicinal mushrooms support a more healthy bodily response to seasonal allergens.
If your dog or cat is suffering from seasonal allergies, please stop by Boofy's to consult with our staff about foods and natural supplements that may help prevent or alleviate symptoms.