Dogs suffering from allergies such as canine atopy are often being treated with drugs, e.g. corticosteroids or antihistamines.
While these drugs are powerful and can bring relief to the allergic dogs, they cause a lot of side effects especially if used long term.
In addition, long-term use of corticosteroids can weaken the dog’s immune system, making him more prone to inflammation and infections.
Many dog parents now turn to milder and safer alternative remedies for dog allergies. More and more veterinarians are open to the inclusion of such remedies in their treatment protocol as well.
If you choose to go the route of using alternative remedies to treat your dog’s allergy, remember the following:
- There is no “ideal” supplement and no one supplement can be used to cure all allergies in all dogs. It is sometimes a matter of trial and error, so expect to try several supplements before you obtain a positive response.
- Do not expect overnight results. Natural remedies and supplements do not work as fast as drugs such as corticosteroids, so expect to give a supplement to your dog for at least two months to determine if it is effective.
- Try to use several types of supplements simultaneously – This way you can maximize the chance of a successful outcome and decrease the need to use conventional drugs such as corticosteroids.
It is also important to consult and work with your veterinarian to devise an appropriate dog allergy relief program for your dog.
Below are some commonly used remedies for dog allergies as well as recommendations of some effective products.
Topical Remedies for Dog Allergies
If your dog has allergies such as atopy, frequent bathing is one of the most important parts of dog allergy treatment because a lot of the allergens are absorbed by your dog through the skin.
If you bath your dog frequently, you remove some of these allergens and prevent them from triggering allergic reactions in your dog.
Generally speaking, it is helpful to shampoo and condition your allergic dog every other day or 2 to 3 times a week during the allergic season.
You may even want to bath your dog daily if he is severely allergic. Once the allergic symptoms subside a little, you can then decrease the number of bathing time to once a week.
Some people may think that such frequent bathing will dry out the dog’s skin, but if you use gentle, hypoallergenic shampoos and conditioners, this won’t happen.
When choosing a suitable hypoallergenic shampoo for your dog, remember the following:
- The shampoo should be soap free because soap can irritate and dry out the skin.
- The shampoo should contain anti-itching ingredients, such as colloidal oatmeal, or aloe vera.
Remedies for Dog Allergies – Fatty Acids
Many veterinarians recommend using fatty acids as part of dog allergy treatment. It has been found that adding large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids to an atopic dog’s diet decrease inflammation and itchiness in the dog.
Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are derived from fish oils of cold water fish such as salmon and trout, and flaxseed.
Omega-6 fatty acids, LA (linoleic acid) and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) are derived from seed oil such as evening primrose, and borage.
A lot of processed dog food contains an increased amount of omega-6 fatty acids and a decreased amount of omega-3, it is therefore advisable to give a dog with atopy supplements of omega-3, preferably fish oil.
Flaxseed oil contains ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which cannot be converted to EPA and DHA by dogs and is therefore less effective than fish oil.
Antioxidants are beneficial as supplements for dogs with allergies as they are anti-inflammatory. They also remove free radicals and other toxins from the body.
The skin is the biggest toxin-removal organ, giving antioxidants to an allergic dog may help keep the dog’s skin healthy.
Some common antioxidants include:
- Vitamins A, C, and E
- Selenium, manganese, and zinc
- Coenzyme Q-10
- Bioflavonoids, such as quercetin
- Grapefruit seed extract
Enzymes and Probiotics
Digestive enzymes help your dog digest food and absorb nutrients better, thereby making your dog’s immune system stronger.
Probiotics are the useful bacteria that are present in the dog’s GI tract. They help to keep the harmful bacteria in check.
However, dogs with allergies are often prescribed steroids and antibiotics, both of which can kill off the probiotic bacteria inside the dog’s gut. This upsets the microflora in the dog’s system, and can cause problems such as GI problems (e.g. diarrhea, gas) and yeast infections.
Chinese Herbal Remedies for Dog Allergies
Although no studies have been done to prove the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine on canine allergies, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence showing very positive results.
After all, Chinese herbal medicine has a long history and it has an excellent track record in treating allergies in people.
Some herbs or herbal combinations that are used in Chinese herbal medicine for allergies include:
- Angelica: This herb tones the body and moves blood to relieve rash and itching.
- Ginseng, bupleurum, licorice, rehmannia, sophora: These are herbs that contain plant steroids that can mimic the action of synthetic
corticosteroids, without the side effects.
- Dictamnus: This herb has antifungal and anti-toxic properties.
- Honeysuckle: This herb has been found to have anti-allergy properties.
Remedies for Dog Allergies – Effective Products
Below are recommendations of some natural products of remedies for dog allergies:
Itch Support Gold for Dogs
Itch Support Gold for Dogs is an herbal formula combining nine effective herbs to help soothe itchiness caused by canine allergies, such as hot spots, food allergies, atopy, etc.
Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics
Animal Essentials Plant and Probiotics Supplement for Dogs and Cats contains plant enzymes as well as probiotics to aid digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.
Animals’ Apawthecary FidoDerm Herbal Spray for Dogs
Animals’ Apawthecary Fidoderm Herbal Spray is an all natural herbal spray with aloe and calendula for dogs with skin irritations and inflammation caused by allergies. It is very effective in providing soothing and healing relief. It works better than steroid cream and it does not cause side effects.