Saturday, June 6, 2009

Allergies in Dogs: Holistic Skin & Coat Care

Pet allergies, and especially dog allergies, are very common. Food, carpeting, blankets, dust mites, mold spores in the air, pollen, plastic food dishes, furniture stuffing and ornamental plants, all have the potential to trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. In some instances, a highly allergic pet may have several allergies at once. The severity of allergies, which can be seasonal or year round, varies greatly. The most common symptom from an allergy is intense itching (known as pruritus), which may be localized at spots or might be systemic, covering the pet's entire body.

Contact Allergies
Fleas are a common source of contact allergies. Other common contact allergens include grasses, hay, plants, and trees. Toxins and chemicals (pesticides, carpet cleaners, etc.) provide additional potential sources for contact allergies for both outdoor and indoor pets.

Let’s take a closer look at flea bite allergies: Flea bite allergy is the most common allergy affecting dogs. In spite of common belief, a normal dog experiences only minor skin irritation in response to flea bites. Even in the presence of dozens of fleas, there will be very little itching. On the other hand, the flea-allergic dog has a severe, itch-producing reaction to flea bites. This occurs because the dog develops an allergic response to flea saliva. When the dog is bitten, flea saliva is deposited in the skin. Just one bite causes intense itching. This type of reaction is not to the flea itself but rather to proteins in its saliva. Dogs most prone to this problem, interestingly enough, are not dogs who are constantly flea ridden, but those who are exposed only occasionally! A single bite can cause a reaction for five to seven days, so you don't need a lot of fleas to have a miserable dog. The dog's response to the intense itching is to chew, lick, or scratch. This causes hair loss and can lead to open sores or scabs on the skin, allowing a secondary bacterial infection to begin. The area most commonly involved is over the rump (just in front of the tail). Many flea allergic dogs also chew or lick the hair off of their legs. In most parts of the country, the problem is seasonal. It is most severe in summer and fall in areas of the country that have cold winters. In warm climates where fleas are active year-round, they are a year-round problem, intensifying during summer. Veterinarians may recommend treatment with small amounts of corticosteroids to give some affected pets relief during the flea season. However, these treatments may be dangerous to your pet if prolonged and only offer relief of symptoms at best. The most important treatment for flea allergy is to get the pet away from all fleas. Therefore, strict flea control is the backbone of successful treatment. Unfortunately, complete flea control is not always possible for pets that live outdoors in warm and humid climates, where a new population of fleas can hatch out every 14 to 21 days.

Food Allergies are generally due to ingredients in your pet's food or treats. Symptoms of food allergies include itching and/or noticeable digestive trouble. A food allergy can be a reaction to almost any ingredient such as soy, wheat, yeast, or beef. Food allergies are so common that pet food manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in research, development and promotion of diets to help dogs with food allergies. I have been and keep addressing food allergies many times within this blog and refrain from more details in today’s comments.Inhalant Allergies
With inhalants, pollen is the most common type of allergen, but cigarette smoke, air fresheners, smog, or other airborne pollutants can also be problematic.

Allergic Dermatitis (Skin problems caused by allergies)Regardless of what causes the problem, this condition is common, it can last a life time, it is a challenge to diagnose and once identified it can be resistant to attempts at treatment. Dogs with inhalant dermatitis will lick and chew at their paws and scratch their face, eyelids and ears. Others may erupt in hot spots or their skin may redden and be intensely itchy all over.

The list of symptoms is endless, but severe itching is the common ailment. Diagnosis of allergies is difficult, time consuming, very costly, and often inconclusive. As a result, allergies are seldom properly diagnosed, and instead, the symptoms are treated in hopes of relieving the pet’s discomfort. These treatments may include topical medications, soothing baths, ointments and sprays, oral antihistamines, or steroids. Caution: If you are sent home with a prescription for cortisone, or your dog has been given “a cortisone shot to stop the itching”, your dog may ultimately be worse off than before if the true diagnosis happens to be an unrecognized case of Sarcoptic mites! A key point to remember is this: There is no cure for allergies! What we can do is avoid the food, material or parasite that is triggering the immune response, and treat both the symptoms and the resulting infections to restore the skin to good health.

We carry at our on-line store a holistic series of products coming from a company called DER Magic. I have tried their products and experienced success with both, our cats as well as our dogs, this stuff really works. You know I don’t like to advertise the products we carry at the on-line store. But sometimes I just can’t help it and feel, if in general it really helps your companions, why not passing on a recommendation. Other stores do it too, even vets make their very specific recommendations when it comes to food, treats and remedies and illness cure. Coming back to DER Magic Skin & Coat Care: This company, as so many within the holistic circle of pet food, treat and supplement suppliers, was started because it’s founder, Dr. Adelie Ritchie, also proud owner of a couple Shih Tzus, tried to figure out how she could help her pups, who often were in need of a quick fix for bug bites, rashes, hot spots or other dermal boo-boos. The doctor’s original prototype product was formulated many years ago, back when Dr. Ritchie was breeding and showing Yorkshire Terriers and teaching organic chemistry at a community college in Florida. At the time, her prize show dog developed a serious skin disease and then progressively got worse under standard veterinary treatments, to the point where her vet suggested euthanasia to put the dog out of her misery. Shenanigan was her name and she had thick black skin by this time, smelled horrible and cried constantly. Back then, as is still the case today, there just weren't any good choices out there for veterinary treatments that weren't loaded with cortisone, steroids, antibiotics or strong chemicals, and even those treatments were not effective enough to save Shenanigan's life. This is when Dr. Ritchie got to work on formulating an effective topical treatment with natural, herbal and organic ingredients. Shenanigan got dunked, slathered, gooped, and drenched in potions, all somewhat effective, but not quite enough. Finally, after a few trials, the prototype DERMagic Hot Spot Lotion was born, and Shenanigan's relief was visible and immediate. She stopped crying and scratching, and her hair was sprouting again within 48 hours of the first treatment. Within six months, she was again in full coat and was parading herself proudly around the show ring. Over the years, Dr. Ritchie used her formulations to treat dogs and cats and horses belonging to family members, friends, and her colleagues in the dog show business, but it was not until much later that a good friend challenged her to make her great products available to every pet owner facing skin problems with their beloved companion animals.
Today, Dr. Ritchie offers a well rounded program of just a few, but extremely effective holistic skin and coat care products. All of them constantly receive very positive recognition in the pet oriented and related media including for example Animal Wellness Magazine to name just one. The line includes a complete 4 step skin care system, a hot spot salve, lotions, soap bars, Dead Sea aromatherapy bath salts and of course shampoos and conditioners.

Besides the very powerful fact that they simply work, what I like the most about Dr. Ritchie’s products is that she enables me to offer yet another effective solution within a well rounded holistic program, from food and treats to supplements and skin & coat care, all together designed to successfully help our customers in their efforts to get rid of their pet’s allergy problems.

To return to today’s topic and in conclusion, always, at the very first sign of itching, look for broken skin, a bite, a sore, or any irritation, and apply
DERMagic Hot Spot Lotion or Hot Spot Salve to kill the infection and prevent the irritation from getting worse. In most cases, this is the only remedy you will need. Both products are safe, free from corticosteroids and also are immediately effective at relieving itch from flea allergies, fighting the associated fungal and bacterial infestations, and promoting healing of affected areas.

No comments: