Downeast Dog News

Holistic Approach to Allergies

Jul 01, 2020

Q. The snow goes away and my dog starts scratching. Besides going to my veterinarian for drugs is there anything I can do at home?

A. Allergies are a huge problem for our furry friends. With the winters getting shorter and less snow cover, the allergy season is growing. Your veterinarian has an arsenal of products to help relieve your best friend’s suffering. If your companion has mild allergies, there are some more holistic approaches you can try first.

Many holistic veterinarians will first tell you to check your dog’s diet. Many of the commercial dog foods are high in carbohydrates and sugar. These food can lead to a disruption of intestinal integrity called leaky gut. The theory is that large environmental proteins will go through the intestinal wall causing an immune reaction. This results in an allergic reaction. Be sure your best friend’s diet is optimal. Not everyone can feed a raw diet, but a balanced raw diet is the best, next would be a homemade balanced cooked diet, and so on down the line. Notice the word balanced is very important here. When going this route, contact your holistic veterinarian for guidance. A good diet will strength your dog’s immune system to protect him from many diseases.

Omega 3 fatty acid supplement has anti-inflammatory properties. A quality supplement can be helpful not only in osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other inflammatory diseases, but also inflamed skin caused by allergies.

What can you do now for Fido? The most overlooked treatment is to bathe your dog with a mild balanced shampoo to get the pollen and other material out of the coat. Use an oatmeal shampoo or rinse to relieve the itching. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in a fifty percent solution is very helpful in curbing the itchiness. You can make a bath with ACV and let your dog soak in it for 5 minutes, or you can use a spray bottle and mist your dog and then rub it into the skin. Steeped lemons can do the same thing. Using one cut up lemon into two cups of boiling water. Take the water off the stove, cover and let it cool overnight. You can also bathe your dog or spray the dog with an herbal tea of Chamomile, Calendula, and green tea. These herbs have soothing properties for irritated skin. You can also use it in small areas of irritation.

We all reach for the over the counter antihistamines for relief, but these have side effects. Herbal products can have the same benefit as over the counter antihistamines with fewer problems. Quercetin with bromelain calms down overactive histamine reactions. You can find this at your health food store or local pharmacy. The dose is 5 to 10 mg per pound twice a day. It is best to give it on an empty stomach. Other herbs used for centuries are stinging nettles, butterbur, sorrel, verbena, elderflower, and cat’s claw. There are many herbal products on the market, which you can find at your farmer’s market or health food store. Locally crafted herbal products are the best because they use locally grown plants that will resonate with your pet better than a product from out west.

Feeding your dog local honey can help because of the little bit of pollen in it. Sometimes this will help your dog cope better. Again, you can find this at your farmer’s market.

When your dog develops a local sore, you can treat it topically with a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste and let it stay for a few hours. You can also use the paste in-between his toes. Rub it in and leave it. The dried paste will fall off and can be vacuumed up. It doesn’t hurt carpets. Coconut oil can be used topically to relieve inflammation. Apple Cider Vinegar and lemon juice also are good.

This year’s allergy season started early in Maine. I hope some of these treatments will relieve your buddy’s discomfort. If you don’t see much relief and want to avoid the drug route, contact your holistic veterinarian. He or she will have many more tools to help your companion.


Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH

Animal Wellness Center

Augusta, Maine