Episode 9 - Nothing to Sneeze About
The phrase “my dog has allergies” may be one of the most common phrases uttered by pet parents, right after “who’s a good boy?”. But why are there so many pets with so many allergies out there? Was it always this way? And what can we do to combat allergies?
Allergic reactions in dogs and cats manifest as itchy skin, hot spots, hair loss, ear infections, watery eyes and nose, redness and swelling, respiratory issues, and digestive problems. The most commonly reported allergens for dogs and cats are fleas, outdoor factors (grass, trees, pollen), indoor factors (dust, mites, chemicals), and some foods. True allergies are uncomfortable for your pet and may be detrimental to their health, so it’s important to find a way to alleviate symptoms by eliminating the source, or in extreme cases, seek veterinary treatment and medications.
Interestingly, despite how common we think allergies are, only about 10% of pets have true diagnosed allergies. So why then do we see so many more dogs and cats experiencing symptoms of allergic reactions? The answer may not be the “allergens” themselves, but how the body handles inflammation.
Inflammation is pretty much the root of all evil or at least the root of most sickness. Everything from heart disease to cancer can be attributed to chronic inflammation. (Read more about inflammation here) Inflammation is intended as a short-term reaction to protect the body from things that hurt it, which we can see in the swelling of a sprained ankle, for example. It’s kind of like “high alert” mode in the body. While a short-term inflammatory response can be a good thing, too much inflammation for too long can be harmful. It puts enormous stress on the body and stops things from working as they should. Systems in the body no longer focus on what they are supposed to be doing (like removing toxins, for example), the swelling impedes function, and the increased release of hormones and steroids can cause adrenal fatigue. Inflammation can be a pretty nasty thing, so we should try to reduce or prevent inflammation in our pets as best we can.
Allergies and inflammation can go hand-in-hand: allergies cause an inflammatory response, and inflammation can cause an allergy-like reaction. A good first step in combating these issues would be to reduce overall inflammation your pet experiences so that you may see if there are still any “true” allergies to deal with. A raw diet helps to reduce inflammation in your pet because it contains biologically appropriate proteins, fats, and nutrients that are easy for your pet to digest and use. The easier time your pet has digesting and processing its food, the less inflammation is likely to occur. Steve’s Real Food includes unique ingredients in our formulas such as coconut oil and raw goat milk that actively fights and prevent inflammation in the body. Once your pet has been eating a raw diet for at least a month, you will be able to tell if there are persisting symptoms of a true allergy. You might then consider rotating through different protein sources to see if that may be the culprit. The goal is to isolate the allergen, identify it, and eliminate it. But don’t forget that treats may be the culprit! Many treats are grain-based, which can definitely cause an allergic or inflammatory response in pets. So remember to consider those as a possible inflammatory trigger and consider switching your pet’s treats to something like freeze-dried whole food treats such as liver, lung, and heart.
It can be hard to watch our precious pets suffer from the symptoms of allergies, but with a little effort and detective work, you can identify and remove the problem. Reduce inflammation, identify an allergen by elimination, and get it out of your pet’s life. Your pet will be happier, and so will you!