What is Holistic Allergy Treatment?
An allergic reaction in your dog is due to an inappropriate immune system reaction to a benign substance. Allergies in dogs fall into two main types, food allergies and environmental allergies.
In dogs, allergy symptoms tend to be dermal and consist of inflamed, itchy skin. Holistic treatments focus on supporting the immune system to return it to appropriate functioning, and supportive care for symptoms to make your dog more comfortable, as excessive scratching licking and biting the allergic, itchy, skin reaction will exacerbate the condition. Traditional veterinary medicine treats allergic reactions with steroids, antihistamines, and antibiotics. Although these treatments may be necessary in some cases, they do not resolve the cause of the allergic reaction, they merely treat the symptoms and secondary conditions, and are associated with unwanted side effects. Holistic treatment focuses on treating the imbalance in the immune system of the dog that is resulting in an allergic reaction. Holistic therapies range from making changes in the environment when necessary, to acupuncture, diet, and herbal supplementation. There is no simple solution that applies to all cases. Each individual dog may require different methods or combinations of methods to see a successful outcome, and resolving allergies holistically is often a case of trial and error and some time will be required to achieve results.
Holistic Allergy Treatment Procedure in Dogs
A holistic approach to allergic reactions in dogs focuses on treating the whole individual dog and several approaches to address overall health and immune system functioning in your dog are recommended. A holistic veterinarian can provide information and specific holistic formulations to assist with this.
There are several steps which can be taken to ensure that your dog's overall health is maximized and allergic reactions are minimized. These include:
- Ensuring that parasites such as fleas and ticks are eradicated. Commercial and natural preparations are available. Frequent vacuuming indoors and cleaning up areas in your yard where fleas congregate will also reduce incidence. Natural preparations to prevent infestations are also available.
- Ease skin lesions and irritations with soothing baths and medications such as oatmeal baths and coconut oil, lavender, chamomile, and mullein preparations for irritated skin. Aloe vera gel, calendula, thyme, chickweed gel, apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, epsom salts, and cucumber slices can also be applied topically to relieve irritations. If grain allergy is suspected, avoid oatmeal baths.
- Adjust diet to support immune system. Reducing carbohydrates in your dog's diet is recommended, as excess carbs may compromise immune system functioning. Avoiding artificial colors and flavors is also recommended. A commercial product which meets these criteria or a diet of raw or cooked meat is recommended for allergic dogs. Also, supplements to aide gastrointestinal functioning such as dandelion root, probiotics, and other herbal preparations may be added to the diet.
- Immune system supplements to support immune system functioning such as ginseng, echinacea, omega 3 essential fatty acids, and vitamins may be useful. Raw local honey can be a useful support for immune system and is easy to administer as dogs readily consume it with their food. Local honey will contain local pollen and antigens your dog is exposed to and can act as an, “allergy vaccine”, exposing your dog to low levels of the allergen and training your dog’s immune system not to react negatively to the antigen.
- Natural anti-inflammatories such as licorice root or nettles may also be useful for immune system reactions.
- Natural antihistamines found in edible mushrooms can reduce immune system reaction. Be sure to discuss use with a veterinarian prior to use, to ensure appropriate dosage and type, and that no interactions with medications are likely to occur.
- If a food allergy is suspected, a food elimination diet, whereby different ingredients are removed from the diet to see if improvement in symptoms results, should be part of the treatment plan to identify and avoid food allergens.
- Preventing exposure by wiping down your dog's feet and fur to remove pollens and other environmental allergens when they have been outdoors can help. A cloth dampened with witch hazel spray may be effective at decontaminating your dog and lessening allergen exposure.
- Avoid unnecessary vaccines that stimulate the immune system.
- Acupuncture therapy may be useful in restoring immune system balance in your dog and may benefit dogs with allergies.
Efficacy of Holistic Allergy Treatment in Dogs
The effectiveness of holistic treatments for allergies in dogs depends heavily on the pet owner's dedication, willingness, and patience to try various therapies and achieve a solution. As no one solutions is right for all dogs, experimentation to determine what works for each specific dog is required. It may take several weeks or months to determine which treatments provide allergy relief for your dog. Combining traditional medications such as steroids, antihistamines and antibiotics with holistic therapy may be necessary to address allergic conditions in the short term while experimentation with holistic therapies to resolve the condition long term takes place.
Holistic Allergy Treatment Recovery in Dogs
Holistic therapies for allergy relief usually do not cause the side effects that steroids and antihistamines may produce, which is a positive. However, because it may take a long time to “hit” upon the correct combination of holistic therapies to resolve allergic reactions, providing support and comfort to your dog is necessary in the interim. Sometimes traditional veterinary medicine will prove necessary, however, treatments such as natural soothing baths and topical natural preparations can provide relief as well.
Cost of Holistic Allergy Treatment in Dogs
Time is the major cost where holistic remedies are concerned. Natural remedies incur some expense although it is usually less than with traditional medicine. However, because several treatments may need to be attempted before a solution is determined, treatment costs can add up. Holistic veterinary practitioners typically charge between $50 and $150 for consultation and recommended natural preparations will incur some cost on top of this. Acupuncture charges tend to be in the $50 to $100 range and several treatments are usually necessary to produce an effect.
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Dog Holistic Allergy Treatment Considerations
Holistic therapies for allergy relief do not provide a quick fix and achieving success takes time and patience, as each dog requires different treatments to resolve their condition. Some dogs do not see resolution of their allergy symptoms even with holistic and traditional therapies combined.
Holistic Allergy Treatment Prevention in Dogs
Obtaining a dog from a breeder that produces healthy, viable puppies, without known health problems will reduce the chance of your dog developing allergies later in life. Providing a healthy diet low in carbohydrates and high in proteins, as well as regular parasite and fungal control to your dog to ensure that skin conditions do not get out of control will also help reduce allergic reactions.