Autumn is allergy season for humans and canines alike. Because we’ve had so little rain this season, allergy-prone dogs are suffering more than ever. There are ways to help fight your dog’s allergies, and some of them consist of dietary changes and supplementation.
In fall, leaves drop from trees and plants start dying off. In this season, molds and other inhalants trigger allergies in susceptible canines. While bathing, air purifiers, regular vacuuming and other ways of keeping allergen numbers down on your pet and in your home help, it’s also essential to keep your dog in prime condition so his immune system can fight off allergies.
Bring your dog to the vet for a definite diagnosis if he begins experiencing upper respiratory issues or eye discharge in the fall, typical symptoms of autumn allergies. However, those are far from the only symptoms of canine fall allergies.
Allergic reactions in dogs often take on the form of skin conditions. While these allergies are usually caused by food or fleas rather than pollen and molds, that’s not always the case. A dog who constantly licks his paws in autumn to the point where they are raw and bleeding may suffer an environmental contact allergy. Other reactions indicating an inhalant allergy include:
- Hair loss
- Ear infections
- Constant scratching
- Reddened areas on the stomach or paws.
Scratching soon leads to secondary skin infections. Because these symptoms also correspond with food and flea allergies, a vet visit will get to the bottom of it.
Human Grade Food
Ask your holistic veterinarian about a devising an allergy fighter diet for your pet. Such a diet consists of human-grade meats, vegetables and small amounts of fruit. If making dinner for your dog isn’t practical, feed him only the highest quality commercial dog food. Look for foods containing human-grade ingredients, and avoid those with grains, sugar, artificial coloring or rendered products.
You may also add digestive enzymes to your dog’s diet to support his immune system.
Raw, local honey is a natural method for treating seasonal allergies. Your dog will also love the taste. If you don’t have a source for raw, local honey, ask your vet or inquire at nearby health food store. Bees produce honey from local plants, and consuming local honey means ingesting local pollen. The idea is that your dog’s body becomes desensitized to pollens through honey consumption.
Nutraceuticals and Supplements
Nutraceuticals are foods marketed specifically for health benefits. They have medicinal properties, but aren’t medications per se. Certain nutraceuticals, sold as supplements, can boost your dog’s immune systems and possibly lessen or eliminate allergic reactions. Fish oil capsules contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help the body fight inflammation and boost its defenses. You can feed your dog the same type of fish oils you take yourself, but ask your vet about the proper dosage for your pet.
Another nutraceutical, methyl-sufonyl-methane (MSM) is used primarily for joint pain relief, but can also help dogs dealing with rhinitis, skin issues and other fall allergy symptoms. MSM is a form of sulfur, found naturally in the body.
Quercetin supplements, known as “Nature’s Benadryl,” can calm itching. This bioflavonoid acts as both an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. As an antihistamine, it suppresses the allergic reaction, much as Benadryl does for people. Quercetin’s anti-inflammatory properties not only treat itching, but soothe congested bronchial tubes. White willow bark has pain-relieving properties. Again, your vet can recommend the right dosage and administration schedule for your dog.
A Healthy Weight
Overweight dogs will suffer more from fall allergies than dogs of normal size. Not only does a fat dog have more difficulty breathing, but too much weight stresses his entire body. While your vet can recommend a diet plan, fall isn’t the best time to start a rigorous exercise program for a dog prone to allergies. Take your dog for longer walks when the pollen and mold count is low, or introduce him to an indoor form of exercise, such as swimming at a canine aquatic center.
Fall allergy season is tough, but take heart. Winter has its downsides, but very cold weather kills off many allergen sources.