According to a recent survey, over half of pet owners don’t realize seasonal allergies can make their dog or cat feel miserable – just like them.
And that’s unfortunate…
Allergies are extremely common among both cats and dogs today. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons for my patients’ visits.
You know how allergies can make you feel, but do you know how your pet experiences them? The symptoms may not always be the same as yours.
You may notice a red chin or swollen paws, watery or blood-shot eyes, a runny nose, or coughing and sneezing in your pet. But you’re also likely to see a whole different set of symptoms…
Unlike humans who typically suffer with respiratory symptoms when they have seasonal allergies, with dogs and cats, allergies can show up as skin irritation, itchiness and inflammation.
When affected by allergies, your pet’s skin can become very itchy. She may start scratching excessively, and even bite or chew at areas on her body. Your pet may lose hair, develop rashes, hives, open sores or “hot spots,” or inflamed ears, especially with dogs. 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!
“How Do I Know If My Pet’s Symptoms Are From Seasonal Allergies?”
Your pet’s symptoms can result from one, or both, types of allergies:
- Food allergies
- Environmental or seasonal allergies
In my practice, I find that many cats and dogs suffer from both types. And most of the pets I see show signs of environmental allergies that last from spring through fall.
To help figure out if your pet’s symptoms may be from seasonal allergies, these 3 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 and don’t remain the same throughout the year, chances are he’s suffering with seasonal allergies.
Year-round symptoms are likely from food sensitivities or dust mites. If you suspect food allergies or sensitivities, you can find out how to get your pet tested on my Healthy Pets website. I almost always suggest to my pet patients’ owners to rule out food sensitivities first.
However, because many pets suffer with both types of allergies, if you don’t see significant results within 3 months on a food sensitivity trial, consider treating her for seasonal allergies, especially if the symptoms appear seasonal.
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 launches an attack. Allergens are substances that provoke an exaggerated immune response in sensitive animals.
At a young age, the immune response may be minimal with only mild reactions, such as itchy ears or a red tummy. A traditional veterinarian typically only provides symptomatic treatment to help provide relief.
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 again.
Only this time – the second year – your pet’s symptoms are now more severe. The itching has increased, or he’s developed an ear infection or even some hot spots.
Again, a traditional vet treats the symptoms until the season changes and the symptoms disappear once again.
Each year the symptoms worsen. Instead of going away, the reactions to the unaddressed root causes become even more intense.
Symptoms that may have previously erupted only in the warmer months, from May to September, are now raging year-round, creating continuous misery for your pet!
Ideally, you want to address potential root causes at the first sign of any type of allergic response. For many sensitive pets, this usually occurs between 6 and 12 months of age. Most develop their seasonal allergies within the first few years.
A traditional veterinarian might choose to give your pet steroid drugs to suppress the response to allergens. In my opinion, this isn’t an appropriate action for many pets as it depresses immune function.
What’s Making Your Pet Itch?
So what exactly causes your pet to feel so miserable when he has seasonal allergies?
As your pet becomes exposed to normally harmless substances in the environment, his immune system can begin to identify these substances as “hazardous.”
These can include grass and weed pollens, trees, mold spores, insects, and even human personal care and cleaning and pest control products.
Allergens can be a problem for your pet when they are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with skin, ears, or paw pads.
When your dog or cat is exposed repeatedly to any of these everyday substances, the immune system launches its attack on what’s now viewed as “foreign invaders.”
During this attack, the immune system produces antibodies, and they, in turn, signal 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.
Your pet’s itchiness, irritation, redness and swelling are all a result of the release of histamine and other chemicals in your pet’s body.
So how can you help your pet feel more comfortable? It comes down to three things…
- 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, usually with drugs.
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 for not only comfort, but to help prevent damage to cells and tissues.
9 Ways to Help Your Itchy, Allergic Pet
There are multiple ways you can help your seasonally allergic pet. Since allergens can easily stick to paws and hair, the first two recommendations may be especially important:
Your Pet Needs Clear Air Just as Much – If Not More – Than You!
Surprisingly, indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, and more contaminants can lead to a greater risk of symptoms.
Chemicals in items such as home building materials and laundry and cleaning products, and flame retardants in furniture and mattresses can particularly affect 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.
- Frequent baths can provide fast relief from itching and wash away the literally millions of allergens that collect on your pet’s skin and coat. My Lavender Pet Wash is especially formulated for pets with sensitive skin (please 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 (see sidebar)
- Avoid unnecessary vaccines and drugs if your pet is suffering with allergies. Your pet’s immune system response 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 – my Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats Cookbook shows you how to prepare a wholesome raw food diet at home for your pet.
- Consider giving your pet a high-quality probiotics supplement like Complete Probiotics for Pets to help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria
- 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 a good first 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 is often why seasonal allergies worsen each year!
Why the Ideal Seasonal Support for Your Pet Isn’t to Get Rid of Every Last Allergen
If your mission is to eliminate every single allergen from your pet’s environment – or to keep your pet away from all potential allergens, you’re in for a surprise.
Reduce them, yes. But with outdoor seasonal allergens, you can’t control their source. Potential allergens will always exist around your pet, no matter what you do.
Rather, a much better goal is to support your pet’s functional immune response.
You want your pet to be able to handle allergens with a normal immune response.
That’s why I don’t agree with the traditional veterinary approach to treating seasonal allergies with drugs. Steroids turn off your pet’s immune system rather than support its normal, healthy function.
And here’s something many pet owners don’t realize...
When your veterinarian places your pet on steroids for seasonal allergies as the only treatment plan, he will probably need to remain on them, intermittently, for life!
As you might imagine, a forever-suppressed immune system isn’t likely to serve your pet well over his or her lifetime.
At the same time, if your pet is suffering with seasonal allergies, you don’t want to stimulate your pet’s immune function. His immune system is already on “overdrive!”
Instead of turning off or stimulating your pet’s immune response, you want to support healthy normal immune function to help it “re-balance itself” and respond normally, without cascading out of control.
My Seasonal Support Aims to Keep Your Pet’s Immune System Functioning Optimally, Especially When Confronted by Environmental Allergens
I’ve talked about how allergies are an abnormal immune system response.
So the best way to help your pet handle allergens is to support optimal, normal immune function.
Taking the steps I’ve outlined above – such as avoiding unnecessary vaccines and drugs and minimizing allergens – can help support your pet’s normal immune function in the face of allergens.
Certain nutrients can also help. During my nearly 20 years of practice, I’ve used a seasonal allergy protocol of herbs and vitamins that have produced excellent results for my patients.
And now I’ve combined them into a one-of-a-kind formula called Seasonal Support to help:
- 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...
Goes Straight to the Root Cause of Inflammation, Redness, and Irritation
Rather than just covering up the symptoms of seasonal allergies, these eight nutrients 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 quell the fire of redness, irritation, and inflammation by helping to maintain normal histamine levels – a major torch for these symptoms. 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, and supports a normal inflammatory response while having a natural antihistamine effect. Dogs make some vitamin C, but they may not make enough to help 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 Medicine for its “superfood” properties, bee pollen may help desensitize your pet to allergens and help eliminate longstanding symptoms quickly.
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. Long used for medicinal purposes, the extract from the plant’s roots has become a favorite of mine for its ability to promote a healthy normal inflammatory response to allergens.
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 allergies.
What Could Seasonal Support Do for Your Pet?
If your pet is suffering from skin irritation or itchiness, or respiratory symptoms like a runny nose or coughing or sneezing, it’s time to provide him or her with long-lasting relief that acts at the source to promote comfort and to help promote a normal immune and inflammatory response to allergens.
Band aid-approaches like using steroid drugs 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.
It can even doom your pet to a lifetime of steroid drugs.
Seasonal Support is a pet-friendly beef liver-flavored powder that you simply give to your pet once or twice daily.
When used during allergy season – I recommend getting a two to four week head start – you can give your pet lasting relief and comfort against common allergens.
Why let your pet suffer when she or he doesn’t need to?
Discover what Seasonal Support can potentially do for your pet. Order your supply today!