According to a survey of pet owners, over half don’t realize seasonal allergies can make their dog or cat feel miserable – just like them.
Allergies are extremely common among both cats and dogs today. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons patients visit my clinic.
When you see your animal buddy with a red chin or swollen paws, watery or blood-shot eyes, a runny nose, or coughing and sneezing, you know you have to do something to help him.
And often, those are some of the more minor problems that allergic pets struggle with. When dogs and cats are affected by seasonal allergies, they typically experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms…
Your pet may scratch excessively, and even bite or chew at itchy areas on her body. She may lose hair, develop rashes, hives, open sores or “hot spots,” or inflamed ears, especially in the case of dogs. Her ears and feet are often affected.
Seasonal allergies can affect your pet’s entire body, from head to tail. And they can affect your pet’s behavior, too, making him irritable or snappish.
If you find your pet rubbing herself against any surface she can find – including her face against the carpet – it may be her desperate attempt to relieve the miserable itchiness of seasonal allergies.
If you’re like many pet owners, you want a holistic solution that can help soothe your pet’s discomfort without causing long-term problems.
Let’s take a look at how to identify the cause of the allergies and what you can do about them.
“How Do I Know If My Pet’s Symptoms Are From Seasonal Allergies?”
No one likes to see their pet in discomfort. The itching, the scratching, the gnawing on her paws… You can just tell she’s miserable. But what is the cause?
When your pet is constantly itching and scratching, it’s usually a signal that she’s suffering from allergies.
Dogs and cats can be affected by two different types of allergies, both of which can cause similar symptoms:
- Food allergies
- Environmental or seasonal allergies
In my practice, I find that many cats and dogs suffer from both types. From spring through fall, most of the pets I see show signs of environmental allergies that include frequent scratching, rubbing their face and belly on carpet or grass, hair loss and chewing on paws.
If you’re trying to figure out whether your pet’s symptoms may be from seasonal allergies, these three questions can provide valuable clues:
- Do symptoms come and go, or are they constant?
- Do the symptoms look exactly the same in January as they do in July?
- Do they become better or worse as the seasons change?
When your pet’s symptoms change with the seasons, flaring up in cycles throughout the year, chances are she’s suffering from seasonal allergies. These can be triggered by substances such as grasses, pollens and molds.
Pets with year-round symptoms are typically dealing with food sensitivities or an allergy to dust mites.
If you suspect food allergies or sensitivities, you should have your pet tested. Check out my Healthy Pets website to learn how to do this. I usually recommend ruling out food sensitivities as the first step in addressing potential allergies.
If you address food sensitivities and don’t see significant improvement within three months, then it’s time to consider treating your pet for seasonal allergies.
Left Untreated, Seasonal Allergies Can Turn Into a Year-Round Nightmare
When your pet encounters something he’s sensitive to in his environment, his immune system responds by moving in to neutralize it. When he is allergic to something, his immune system launches an exaggerated response, causing a lot of discomfort when he comes in contact with an allergen.
At a young age, the immune response may be minimal. He might experience only mild reactions, such as itchy ears or a red tummy.
If you take him to a traditional veterinarian, they will typically treat these problems only symptomatically, which only addresses the discomfort for the short term.
But because nothing is done to address the root cause of the allergic response, it’s almost certain your pet’s symptoms will return the following year when the temperatures rise and the pollens are out again.
Only this time – the second year – his symptoms will be more severe. The itching will increase, or he’ll develop an ear infection or some painful hot spots.
Again, a traditional vet will treat the symptoms until the season changes and the symptoms disappear once again.
This approach sets your pet up for a repeating cycle of pain and discomfort. Each year, the symptoms get a little worse as the reactions to the unaddressed root causes become more intense.
Symptoms that previously only erupted in the warmer months may start to rage year-round, creating continuous misery for your pet.
The ideal approach to solving allergies is to address potential root causes as soon as symptoms begin to develop. For many sensitive pets, this usually occurs between six and twelve months of age. For most pets, seasonal allergies will develop within the first few years of life.
A traditional veterinarian might use practices that suppress the response to allergens. In my opinion, this usually does more harm than good, as it interferes with normal immune function.
Instead of suppressing your pet’s immune system, it’s best to take an approach to his allergies that supports his healthy immune response and strengthens his body’s ability to deal with allergens.
Identify What is Triggering Your Pet’s Allergies
So, what exactly causes your pet to feel so miserable when she has seasonal allergies?
It’s often a cumulative process. Over time, as she is exposed to normally harmless substances in the environment, her immune system begins to identify these substances as “hazardous,” mounting a stronger and stronger response to them.
These allergens can include grass and weed pollens, trees, mold spores, insects and even human personal care products, cleaning products and pest control products.
Allergens can trigger reactions for your pet, whether she inhales them, ingests them, or comes in contact with them through her skin, ears or paw pads.
When your dog or cat is repeatedly exposed to any of these everyday substances, her immune system can start to see them as “foreign invaders” and begin launching attacks.
During these attacks, the immune system produces antibodies. The antibodies trigger the release of chemicals into the bloodstream.
Histamine, one of the major chemicals released, is largely responsible for the cascade of inflammatory events that follow. It causes itchiness, irritation, redness and swelling in your pet’s body.
You don’t have to just watch her feel miserable. And you don’t have to resort to questionable immune-suppressive therapies.
There are three positive, proactive things you can do to help your pet feel more comfortable:
- Minimize the amount of allergens in your pet’s living environment.
- Help promote normal histamine production in response to allergens.
- Help the immune system normalize its response to the attack.
Unfortunately, most traditional veterinarians fail to address all three of these causes for discomfort and instead focus on only one or two of them.
Just like a three-legged stool needs all of its legs to stand straight and sturdy, your pet needs your help with all three approaches. Not only for comfort but also to help prevent damage to cells and tissues.
9 Ways to Reduce Allergens in Your Home to Help Your Itchy, Allergic Pet
When it comes to minimizing the allergens in your pet’s living environment, there are multiple strategies you can use. Since allergens can easily stick to paws and hair, the first two recommendations may be especially important:
- Frequent baths can provide fast relief from itching and wash away the literally millions of microscopic allergens that collect on your pet’s skin and coat. Our Lavender Pet Wash is specially formulated for pets with sensitive skin. (It’s best to avoid oatmeal-based shampoos.)
- Foot soaks are a quick and easy way to reduce the amount of allergens your pet tracks into your home and ingests when he grooms himself.
- Remove your shoes upon entering your home during the warmer months to reduce allergens on floors and in carpeting.
- Vacuum and clean floors regularly to reduce levels of allergens in your home.
- Help remove allergens and other indoor air pollutants with a home or room air purifier.
- Avoid unnecessary vaccines and drugs if your pet is suffering with allergies, as his immune system is already stressed.
- Restrict grains in your pet’s diet, as they can create or worsen inflammation and gut issues. Feed your pet a species-appropriate diet – our Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats Cookbook shows you how to prepare a wholesome raw food diet at home.
- Give your pet a high-quality probiotics supplement, like Complete Probiotics for Pets to help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria support a healthy immune response.
- Add Krill Oil and Coconut Oil to your pet’s diet to help promote a normal inflammatory response.
Reducing allergens in your pet’s environment – especially indoors – is an important step. And so is addressing your pet’s diet and gut health.
Relief for allergic pets often begins in the gut, as an imbalance in gastrointestinal bacteria can be a major factor for why seasonal allergies worsen each year.
Your Pet Needs Clear Air Just as Much as – If Not More – Than You.
Surprisingly, indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, and more contaminants can contribute to a greater risk of symptoms.
Chemicals in items such as home building materials and laundry and cleaning products, as well as flame retardants in furniture and mattresses, can be particularly hard on your pet because of her smaller size.
Help protect your pet – and your entire family – from indoor air contaminants and common allergens with Dr. Mercola’s ClearAir Air Purifiers – available in both room-size and whole home.
If your only focus is on eliminating every single allergen from your pet’s environment or keeping your pet away from all potential allergens, you’ll only get limited results.
While it’s possible to greatly reduce outdoor seasonal allergens in your home, you can’t control their source. Some amount of potential allergens will always exist around your pet, no matter what measures you take to reduce them.
So, once you’ve taken these helpful steps to reduce your pet’s exposure to allergens, it’s time to actively support your pet’s functional immune response.
You want your pet to be able to handle allergens with a normal immune response.
The right support will help your pet “re-balance” his immune system and respond normally, without cascading out of control.
Keep Your Pet’s Immune System Functioning Optimally, Even When Confronted by Environmental Allergens
We’ve discussed how your pet’s allergic reactions are an abnormal immune response. Instead of recognizing the allergens as harmless, his immune system overreacts.
The best way to help your pet handle allergens is to give him what his body needs to support optimal, normal immune function.
Taking the steps I’ve outlined above – such as avoiding unnecessary vaccines and drugs and minimizing exposure to potential allergens – can help reduce the load on your pet’s immune system, helping him maintain a normal immune response in the face of allergens.
Another key to giving him the support he needs is with carefully chosen active ingredients. During my nearly 20 years of practice, I’ve used a protocol of herbs and vitamins that have produced excellent results for my patients with seasonal allergies.
And now, I’ve combined them into a one-of-a-kind formula called Seasonal Support for Cats & Dogs. This supplement helps to:
- Support an optimally functioning immune system, allowing it to re-balance itself when confronted with environmental allergens.
- Support a normal inflammatory response to potential allergens by helping to maintain normal histamine levels.
- Bring greater comfort to pets during allergy season.
Let me tell you about Seasonal Support’s valuable herbs and vitamins...
Address the Root Cause of Inflammation, Redness, and Irritation
Rather than just covering up the symptoms of seasonal allergies, the eight active ingredients in Seasonal Support address the root cause of your pet’s discomfort. And instead of blindly stimulating immune function, they gently coax it to re-balance itself.
- Quercetin – The dietary bioflavonoid quercetin helps soothe skin related issues associated with seasonal allergies by helping to maintain normal histamine levels. Histamines are a major torch for allergy symptoms, so it’s important to keep them at normal levels. Quercetin also helps promote a normal inflammatory response through its potent antioxidant activity.
- Bromelain – This proteolytic enzyme from the stem and fruit of pineapple increases the absorption of quercetin, making it more effective. Working together, they promote a normal inflammatory response by supporting normal prostaglandin release, another pathway by which inflammation can occur.
Vitamin C – A potent antioxidant that supports the body during trauma, vitamin C supports a normal inflammatory response. Dogs can make some vitamin C on their own, but supplementing can boost their body’s ability to guard against seasonal allergens.
(I especially like to combine quercetin, bromelain and vitamin C because of their synergistic effect in providing optimal support for a normal inflammatory response.)
- Bee Pollen – Widely used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Practice for its “superfood” properties, bee pollen may help desensitize your pet to environmental allergens.
- Plant Sterols – Produced by plants, molecules like beta-sitosterol (BSS) and its glycoside BSSG have been shown in animal studies to support a normal inflammatory response and a modulating, or balancing, effect on immune function in those suffering with seasonal allergies.
- Butterbur Extract – Farmers once preserved butter by wrapping it in the large leaves of this marsh plant. The extract from the plant’s roots has become a favorite of mine for its ability to promote a healthy normal inflammatory response to seasonal allergens.
- Organic Stinging Nettle Leaf – Acts like butterbur in promoting a healthy normal response to allergens by helping to maintain normal levels of histamine and other pro-inflammatory chemicals. Nettle leaf may also help with skin irritation.
- Cat’s Claw – An herb from the highlands of the Peruvian Amazon, cat’s claw has been used by natives for hundreds of years. It’s become one of South America’s most prescribed herbs for promoting a normal immune response to allergens.
Help Your Pet Combat Uncomfortable Allergies
If your pet suffers from skin irritation or itchiness – or respiratory symptoms, like a runny nose or coughing or sneezing – it’s time to provide her with long-lasting support that acts at the source to promote comfort and to help promote a normal immune and inflammatory response to seasonal allergens.
Band aid-approaches, simply cover up the symptoms and do little to change the cause. This failed – and potentially dangerous – approach can end up doing more harm than good.
Seasonal Support for Cats & Dogs is a holistic solution that addresses the root cause of inflammation, redness and irritation from seasonal allergies. It comes in a pet-friendly beef liver-flavored powder that you give to your pet once or twice daily.
When used during allergy season, it can give your pet lasting support and comfort in the face of common allergens. I recommend getting a two- to four-week head start for optimal benefits.
Don’t let your pet suffer when she doesn’t need to.
Help your pet enjoy the warm seasons free from itching, coughing and discomfort, and order your supply of Seasonal Support for Cats & Dogs today.