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Does your pet suffer from seasonal allergies?  Now is the time to prepare for the next allergy season.    

                                                                       

 Seasonal allergies are on the rise for people as well as their pets. Depending upon the scientist or researcher, estimates range from an expected 100% to 500% increase in seasonal allergies over the next decade. Regardless of how high they claim this increase will be or what the potential causes (from pollution to global warming), the one thing they all agree upon is that allergies are going to get worse. The best defense against allergies is a strong body that reacts to irritants in a way that doesn't make us feel lousy in the process. For most people, we get irritating sinus, lung and eye responses. Most animals develop equally irritating symptoms like red itchy skin patches known as "hot spots", brittle coats and nails, severe shedding, ear problems and/or irritations between the paws. Our beloved chocolate lab, Max, had such severe allergies the first year we got him that our vet actually advised putting him to sleep. The poor fella was almost completely hairless and covered in red angry itchy skin. He was allergic to just about everything from grass to pollens to molds. I am happy to say that Max no longer has terrible allergies. Just a little dry coat near the end of summer when the hay field gets mowed which has been my signal to increase essential fatty acids in his diet

The Best Defense.... A Good Diet Plan and a Parasite Cleanse

 "You are what you eat" and in some cases, "you are what's eating you."  The same holds true for our pets. A proper diet and the occasional parasite cleanse can do wonders for reducing or eliminating allergies. 

Dogs and cats have been part of human's lives for thousands of years. However, it is only in the last century or so that we have taken to feeding our furry companions a steady diet of bagged or canned food.  The first commercially prepared pet food was a dog biscuit introduced in England about 1860. Since then, pet foods have expanded to include canned, dry and semi-moist foods. Numerous studies have proved that feeding a cat or dog the same dried or canned food alone day after day, year after year,  leads to diseases and a shortened life span. 

Cats are particularly at risk for health problems related to their food. They have evolved to eat small prey in its entirety to get their needed nutrition - skin ("animal roughage"), bones (calcium), internal organs (vitamins, minerals) and stomach contents (roughage, possibly vitamins and minerals from partly digested food). The bones of their natural prey are tiny and fragile enough to be broken by the cat's teeth. The sort of bones fed to cats by humans come from much larger prey and may splinter when crunched, causing damage to the mouth, throat, stomach or intestine (the latter often being fatal). The sort of meat in most cat foods comes from muscle meat from large boned animals with some sinew and is not nutritionally balanced for a cat's needs. 

In investigations in the US and Canada, it was discovered that pets are often in the pet food supply. Many pets are rendered into the pet food complete with their collars, tags, flea collars and in many cases, still inside plastic pet body-bags. Chemicals from plastic and organophosphates from flea collars end up in the mix along with a host of other substances. Pharmaceuticals are often present in commercial foods from the drugs given to diseased livestock. Heavy metals accumulate from a variety of sources such as pet ID tags or surgical items like bone pins. Unsold supermarket meats arrive in styrofoam and plastic containers. It takes time and money to remove flea collars or unwrap spoiled meat so... into the pot they go. More plastics are added with the arrival of cattle ID tags, plastic insecticide patches and pet body bags from veterinarians. These plastics contain several toxic substances which may survive rendering and cause a host of problems, from infertility to allergies and autoimmune problems. 

As if the ''ICK!" factor of knowing your pet food may contain the processed carcasses of other dead pets wasn't enough, there are other reasons why these processed diets are bad for our furry companions. Most animals are not cannibals by nature, for a reason. Dogs may fight to the death for pack status, but they rarely kill each other for food. The same goes for cats. Feeding them these kinds of foods is definitely not what nature intended. Cannibalism often leads to the spread of disease and in some cases, new diseases. A prime example is mad cow disease which has been considered to be the result of feeding live cows feed containing rendered dead cows. 

There are a number of companies now making quality pet food such as Wellness, Innova, Wysong, Nature's Variety, Before Grains, etc.  Even Newman's Own now makes a reasonably good pet food and it won't bankrupt your pocketbook. Since most domesticated pets experience digestive problems with big diet changes, the simplest option is to add a little variety to a quality food from time to time. The easiest and least expensive way to do this is to mix about a tablespoon of whatever cooked vegetable you had for dinner into their dish and add a raw organic egg or the occasional teaspoon of olive oil or fish oil. Just a little addition to their regular food twice weekly can do wonders for skin, coat and over-all health without upsetting their digestion.

Parasites are the next issue for dealing with allergies. Testing for a parasite has changed over the years, especially here in America. Most labs now do something known as a 'smear stain'.  The fecal sample (poop), is spun and then a small smear on a slide is studied under a microscope. According to Dr. Bruce Shelton, head of the Arizona Medical Board and Chief Medical Official for Heel USA, smear stains fail to identify the parasite more than 90% of the time both in people and animals. This leads to misdiagnosing a parasite infestation as a number of other conditions such as allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), auto-immune diseases, dermatitis, or emotional problems.    

From a natural health stand point, the # 1 reason why animals (especially dogs) chew on their back ends (rump, tails, back legs, etc) is because they have a parasite. This causes a domino effect. Parasite poo-poo is the perfect home for breeding fungus. Which can cause itching and dry coat and/or nails. Which depletes the dog's natural fatty acids, which increases the need for vitamins and minerals especially B vitamins like biotin and minerals like sodium and silica....  creating even more itching or "hot spots".
 
The easy and cheap option is to feed the dog a parasite cleanser. (I prefer Total Para from NutriWest. It's only $12.00 for 10 days and usually gets the job done in that time.)  To deal with the domino effect, you will also want to feed your pet Acidophilus or a similar probiotic which is the natural bacteria that lives in the intestines and helps with digestion. And to make sure coats repair nicely, feed a good fatty acid food like avocado, olive oil, sesame seeds and fish or fish oils; and something for B vitamins.
An easy recipe for this is: 
        1/4 avocado mashed or 1/2 raw organic egg beaten (save the other half in a glass container for later)
        1tsp ground flax seed or ground sesame seeds
        open 1 capsule acidophilus
        1tsp brown rice syrup or black strap molasses (for the B vites)
        1/8 tsp sea salt  (It MUST be SEA salt, not table salt)
        Mash Total Para (1 tab per every 20 to 30 lbs for dogs and 1/2 tab for average sized cat)   
Mix together with regular food and feed twice daily for 10 days. If a parasite is the problem, coat and chewing typically clear in about 7 to 10 days.
You can expect some loose stools around day 3 to 5 that should last no more than 48 hours. They may also pass worms or in some cases, worms have been known to come crawling out of the animal (usually their tushies and especially at night), looking for a tastier host. So,  DON'T SLEEP WITH YOUR PETS. (Unless of course, you want to become the new host to their parasites!)   Be sure to wash bedding and their favorite chew toys at the end of the cleanse to help prevent a recurrence.

Other Helpers

There are several natural remedies that can help reduce allergies as well. Strengthening the immune system with preparations like  Guna- Matrix and Citomix or the Stage III Detoxification from Heel often dramatically reduces the symptoms of allergies. However, these options need to be started at least six weeks prior to the allergy season to be the most beneficial.

Once the allergy season starts, homeopathic remedies like Allergy (by BHI), Allergy Prevention (from Guna) or single remedies like Allium, Kali Sulph, Nat Mur or Apis Mel can help reduce symptoms without side effects.  Allium helps with runny eyes. Kali Sulph helps with sores on paws and skin, especially if they tend to have a yellowish discharge. Nat mur helps with any condition that can be described as too wet or too dry such as dry coat and wet ears. Apis mel helps to reduce the histamine response that triggers itching and burning in the first place. Homeopathic remedies come in different strengths. Typically, the Allium is most effective at 30x, the Kali sulph and Nat Mur at lower strength like 3x to 12x and the Apis at higher potencies like 200C. 

Herbs like fenugreek, horseradish, nettle and mullein are common allergy fighters. Higher doses of Bromelian (the enzyme in pineapples) and Quercitin (an antioxidant found in grape skins, apple skins and green tea) have also been known to be helpful for reducing allergy symptoms as are the antioxidants Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium. Now Foods makes an effective and inexpensive product called Respir-All that contains a combination of most of these allergy fighters. Starting a program now can help strengthen the body to better handle allergens when the season starts. 

A good liver cleanse can also improve health and decrease allergies. The liver has at least 500 known functions to do every day (and we suspect as many as 5000) including helping our immune system to function properly and processing toxins for removal.  There are a number of options for supporting a liver such as milk thistle, dandelion or tumeric. Equal parts olive oil and lemon juice are another inexpensive and easy way to support and clean the liver.... assuming you can get your pet to drink it. Some animals love it and others will turn their nose up at it. Just 1 tsp each olive oil and FRESH squeezed lemon juice in the morning for 5 days in a row once monthly will do it. 

If you taken a good look at your pet's nutrition and made sure there is no parasite involvement, but are still seeing an allergy problem, it's time to consult a professional to help you determine what your pet's specific needs may be. 

 

 

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