Monday, July 9, 2012

Allergies in Pets & How to Provide Relief

Pets typically suffer from 2 types of allergies: food and environmental. If you have a pet that only gets itchy at certain times of the year, chances are your pet suffers from seasonal/environmental allergies. But if its constant that means the dog typically suffers from food or environmental allergies (something constant in the environment). Please note, I am not a vet, just a pet owner that has done a lot of research on allergies.

Read more about pet allergies here - Article by Dr. Becker

If you live somewhere like I do, where I don't ever experience a hard freeze, it could be that the environmental allergies are just building and building and causing problems year round.

It is important to note, while humans typically show symptoms of allergies in their respiratory system, dogs do not. It typically shows up in skin inflammation and/or irritation. A good place to look is the paws and the ears. My dog Harley suffers from allergies and he would spend HOURS licking his paws and scratching his ears :( It was heartbreaking.

You can give dogs steroid shots, but they basically are a cover up to the allergy problem, they aren't really solving anything. Not only that, but they decrease the immune system of the dog, which you don't want either. I don't want to have a dog on Benadryl or some other medicine for the rest of his life unless absolutely necessary or having to give him steroid shots all the time. I only give him steroid shots when during the spring time when the pollen increases drastically and it's the best thing I can do for him. So I have been searching for more holistic methods.

Another sign of allergies is the ear scratching (as mentioned earlier) I can't really find or get a good photo of ears affected by allergies. Sorry :( But a good sign is if the ears are inflamed and have a discharge. I clean Harley's ears out with a mix of half apple cider vinegar and half warm water. DO NOT USE FULL STRENGTH APPLE CIDER VINEGAR!!! It burns if you use it full strength, pour it on a cut... you'll understand. But seriously, this is the best ear cleaner I have EVER used and it's much cheaper than the ear cleaners you can get in the store.

Here are some other ways you can help your pet out

  • Bathe them frequently (I give mine a bath once a week) If you are using topical flea medicines make sure you get a soap and detergent free shampoo and wait a few days before and after applying the flea meds to bathe them. Also, make sure you use an grain free/oatmeal free shampoo. Check out my other post on products and shampoos here

  • After bathing you can use a vinegar rinse, 1 gallon of water with a cup of regular white vinegar. 
  • You can soak their feet in an apple cider vinegar and water mix (I would do half and half) 
  • You can also spray them down with apple cider vinegar and water mix (I would do half and half) 
  • Try a grain free food - I personally use Nature's Variety Instinct, it is grain free and gluten free. 
Supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids - they decrease inflammation. I supplement with raw sardines. I order my sardines here, I could get them frozen from my local Asian market, but they weren't that great and teh fish I get from this online store are AMAZING. They are great looking fish and I order 12lbs at a time and put them in my freezer. Read more about Sardines here - Sardines: A Super Hero food for Dogs. If you feed the canned sardines try and get the ones packed in water and low sodium.

Coconut Oil - get Extra Virgin Coconut oil. This helps reduce the production of yeast, which is what you see build up in the ears and paws. You can find it at your local grocery store, most of them, or a natural foods store. Tropical Traditions has some great coconut oil, all different varieties and they always have amazing specials, I prefer the coconut oil from Tropical Traditions because it they have so much more than just coconut oil and their packaging and shipping packaging is AMAZING. Or vitacost (get $10 for signing up). It's really fairly cheap from Vitacost and they are always running specials.

  • Also, try avoid feeding food that contain wheat, corn, and soy. 
  • Wash your food bowls often to avoid mold growth and bacterial growth. Use stainless steel bowls. Personally I use plastic bowls and I sanitize them with a little bit of bleach and hot water, just rinse them and afterwards make sure they dry completely. 
  • Replace your air filter often - this will benefit both you and the dog. I had one of those "permanent" air filters and I threw it away and replaced with an allergen filter, don't buy the cheap filters, it's worth the extra money to buy the better quality filters. 
  • Wash their bedding and your bedding frequently as well as vacuum and sweep & mop often. Read about deals going on now with Dyson Animal Vacuums. You can go to Amazon and get a factory reconditioned Dyson Animal DC28 for just $309.99, normally $649 so it's 52% off! 



  1. The vinegar really does work! We've been using it on our boxer's itchy spots and it takes out the redness. I never thought of using it to clean out her ears. Going to do so tomorrow.

    As far as the coconut oil, do you just rub it into the itchy areas?

    Going to look into the sardines too. Both dogs already eat grain free food, but if I can add these too it and it helps, even better.

    Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Also, you can use plain white vinegar in the ears instead of apple cider, I use both and they white vinegar seems to keep the "gunk" out longer, not by much, but every little bit helps!

      The coconut oil I just put on their food in the morning, you can melt it or just put it on there. I usually just put it on there. I have never rubbed it on their spots that were bothering them, I was afraid they would like themselves raw trying to lick it all off.

      They really love their sardines, they know when they hear the bag in the freezer that they are getting their fish!

      You're welcome. It was certainly rough dealing with Harley and his allergies and I didn't want to put him on steroid shots year round so I was trying to find more natural ways of dealing with it. I'm glad I can help out others with pet allergies as well!


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