What Are Allergies?
It seems allergies are a huge concern for pet owners these days, but what exactly is a pet allergy? According to the Merck Manual “allergic reactions (hypersensitivity reactions) are inappropriate responses of the immune system to a normally harmless substance.” For pets, the culprit is often food, pollen, flea saliva, or mites. The reaction from flea saliva and mites is quite obvious but when it comes to a pollen allergy, finding the specific source is more of a challenge, and removing it completely from the pet’s environment is usually impossible. As for food, the common triggers are beef, dairy & chicken, corn, wheat, and soy.
Many pets actually don’t suffer from allergies, but instead have an over abundance of yeast in their system or are suffering from leaky gut syndrome. If your pet is affected by reoccurring ear infections and has a smell that is often described as corn chips, and scratches constantly, yeast might be the problem. If your pet seems to improve on a novel protein but as time goes on, the “allergy” symptoms return, then perhaps he is suffering from leaky gut syndrome.
Read on for more information about these issues.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has An Allergy?
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:
- itching/scratching excessively
- running nose & eyes
- asthma-like symptoms
- chronic bronchitis
- gastro issues
- frequent ear infections
- and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.
Keep in mind, not all of these symptoms may be present.
The symptoms will occur depending on what the allergy is, e.g. pollen may be seasonal whilst food could be all the time. If symptoms start all of a sudden look back at any changes you have made to their diet or daily life that may be the culprit. For example, have you changed their regular food or treats or have pollen levels risen? Many allergies can be identified by tests by your vet (although not food allergies as blood tests are unreliable for these).
Come and talk to us and we can help you work out what the problem is!
How Do I Tackle Allergies?
These are often solved by the elimination diet, i.e. placing your pet on a diet of something they've never had before, then slowly introducing one new food item at a time until the culprit is found. Some foods are known to be more likely to cause allergies (beef, chicken, dairy, corn, what, soy) so these should be removed first. Blood tests are unreliable in identifying food allergies.
This one is more difficult as we have little control over the environment but there are ways to help reduce issues such as regular vacuuming, washing beds and blankets, fitting filters to air intakes, and washing your pet more often can help.
Flea Bite Allergies
These can result in severe irritation at the bite site often made worse by the pet scratching at them. The obvious solution is to avoid fleas in the first place with natural flea protection.
Although quite rare some pets are sensitive to contact allergies brought on by contact with detergents, soaps, shampoos, carpets, synthetic fibres, wool, leather, paint, rubber, plastic and insecticide. These often result in sever skin irritation on or around whatever area the irritant touches your pet.
We stock a Stress Test that can help narrow down what the allergy might be and you can consult your vet for further allergy testing.
What Can I Do About Yeast & Leaky Gut?
Yeast exists naturally both internally and externally on our pets and usually there isn’t a problem, but on occasion there can be an overabundance and problems erupt. Often the cause is poor diet, over-vaccination, antibiotics, stress, and chemical overload. The result is a very itchy pet and typically a smelly pet. Ear infections are common since yeast thrives in moisture. Other problem areas are paws, armpits and any folds in the skin, and what you see on the outside will indicate what is going on in the inside.
Leaky gut: In layman’s terms, the gut is a semi-permeable surface and its job is to allow tiny digested nutrients to pass through and enter the bloodstream to nourish the body. It also keeps out toxins, pathogens, and undigested food matter. But on occasion the surface lining can be damaged and small tears allow larger food particles, toxins, and pathogens to pass into the bloodstream. The immune system is then set off to fight these invaders which in turn causes inflammation and the immune system gets overwhelmed. Once this happens, the body starts to see food as an allergen and reacts. Trying a novel protein can often trick the system, but over time even the novel proteins get attacked.
The first and most important step is to stop feeding the yeast and that means low-carb and low-starch since both turn to sugar and feed the growth of yeast. A naturalunprocessed species appropriate diet will help along with a few things from home like coconut oil and apple cider vinegar which are both antifungal.
It is thought that the causes of Leaky Gut are primarily from poor diet, drugs such as steroids, antibiotics, flea & tick medications, and over-vaccination. The gut is responsible for 70% of the immune system so correcting Leaky Gut is vital to overall health and longevity. There are helpful products available that help support the healing of your pet’s gut, this along with a cleaner, fresher diet may be all that is needed to get the job done.