Pet Allergies Explained, Once and For All.
Pet Allergies Explained, Once and For All.
By: John R Taylor Naturopath and Author of “The Wonder of Probiotics”
|Why is my pet itching and scratching?||Is this an allergy problem?|
|What are those red spots?||Why is my pet always scratching his ears?|
|Why is my pet licking his paws?||Am I feeding my pet the right food?|
These questions deserve some straight, plain answers. An allergy is the body’s over-reaction or hypersensitivity of the immune system to a particular substance called an allergen. Let’s start by looking at the difference between organic allergies and chemical sensitivities.
Chemical sensitivities can react like organic allergies, but they are very different. Your pet can have a reaction to the chemicals in cleaning supplies, detergents, fabric softeners which can be liquids or dryer sheets, flea preparations, yard pesticides, or chemical fertilizers used in the garden. Even though you may not use detergents or fabric softeners on your pets bedding, when you wash your own cloths and your pet crawls up on your lap they can be exposed to those chemicals. These types of chemical allergies are called contact allergies or inhalant allergies, meaning that you either breathe the allergen into your nose or lungs or it touches your skin.
Chemical sensitivities are not the most common allergy type in animals and can generally be prevented. A contact allergy happens when an animal's skin comes in contact with the material he's allergic to. If he is bathed with a soap or shampoo containing a chemical that he is allergic to then a reaction can happen. Direct exposure to flea powder, flea collars or flea liquids can cause an allergic reaction. These types of allergens can be avoided once you know that they cause a problem with your particular pet. With a suspected chemical sensitivity allergy, contact a veterinarian for crisis care.
But what about the allergens that we cannot prevent our pets from coming into contact with? These are generally in the organic allergen category. We can’t keep our pets in a plastic bubble and they have to eat food, both of which can expose them to organic allergens. By organic allergens, I mean that they are produced in nature and can be both dietary and environmental allergens. What types of organic allergens are there? Tree pollens, grass pollens, molds, dust mites, mildew, flea and other insect bites, just to name a few. Pets that roam the yard pick up tree pollens, grass pollens, molds and mildew on their paws. Then when they come in the house, what is the first thing they do? That’s right: they lick their paws- thus ingesting the allergens. They may also scratch their ears planting those allergens right in their ears.
What is the commonality between all these allergens? They are all proteins. Once you understand that nearly all allergens are proteins it will become clear how they affect our immune response and thus our pets allergy response. As an example: snake venom is an organically produced toxin that is a foreign protein. When snake venom is injected directly into the blood stream it can have dire consequences, yet drinking a small amount of snake venom will cause no harm. Why the difference? The reason is that drinking snake venom subjects the venom to the digestive process in which enzymes break down the complex protein into amino acids thus rendering it harmless. The same principle would apply to injecting a small amount of raw chicken egg directly into the bloodstream. This would cause serious, if not fatal results because the egg going directly into the blood stream would be interpreted by the body as a huge foreign protein attack. On the other hand, eating the egg raw or cooked, allows the body to break it down through digestion therefore nourishing the body rather than having a toxic effect.
To prevent a protein allergen from producing a reaction then, all we need to do is digest that allergen to its smallest particles, amino acids. So how can we digest and break down proteins? Put simply: Enzymes. Humans and pets alike have two kinds of enzymes, systemic enzymes and digestive enzymes. Our bodies can only make a limited amount of either type of enzymes. Systemic enzymes circulate in our system and hunt down organic protein allergens as well as pathogens that have entered the body through our mouth, eyes, nose and lungs. By digesting these allergens, the immune system does not need to be set on high alert, and the allergic reaction never happens.
What a great system! So why does this systemic enzyme system not work all the time? Pets are raw food animals. A dog in the wild would never catch a rabbit and fire up the grill. He is going to eat raw rabbit. This is significant because the enzymes to digest that rabbit meat are naturally occurring in the meat. Once chewed, the meat will self digest with little stress to the pet’s system. If the rabbit meat was processed and cooked, that would kill all the enzymes and force the pet’s system to rob systemic enzymes from the body and use them to digest the rabbit. This is not natural and there are consequences: The next time an allergen enters the body there will be no systemic enzymes to handle the situation. This forces the immune system has to get involved and all kinds of trouble can ensue. The longer the pet is eating cooked and processed food without any enzymes added, the more likely an allergy attack is in the future.
A pet’s diet can be a complicating factor in pet allergies. Animals are generally not born with allergies to food, but can develop them from eating cooked animal proteins too early in life. The pet’s immune system develops an allergic response over time. A food allergy can manifest itself in many ways: Itching, digestive disorders, and rashes. Food allergies can be a challenge to solve. Try to figure out what's causing your pet's allergic reaction by feeding him different diets, always remembering to switch over to new foods slowly. I recommend feeding a quality grain free food. Some of the best anti-allergy foods are a single protein and a single carbohydrate combination such as duck and potato or salmon and potato. Always feed these foods with digestive enzymes and probiotics. Also keep in mind that when you change your pet’s food, the allergic effects of the previous food can stay in the pet’s system for up to eight weeks.
Raw food diets are becoming more popular but that is not practical for every pet owner, and raw food diets can be expensive and fraught with their own problems. By far, most pets are eating some type of cooked and processed kibble or canned food. For those pets it is imperative that pet owners supplement their pet’s food with a digestive enzyme formula like Total-Zymes® with every meal. By feeding raw food or supplementing with enzymes, the systemic enzyme system will be there when it's needed to defend against the allergens that are all around us. Another huge benefit of supplementing with Total-Zymes® is that the improved digestion delivers so much more nutrition from the diet to benefit your pet’s health. That’s why Total-Zymes® has 16 different digestive enzymes to completely digest the modern pet’s diet, which can be very complex. If allergies are a particularly big issue, pet owners can also give vegetarian systemic enzymes directly to the pet’s system by adding Pet-Enzymes Plus® tablets once or twice a day. These chewable bacon cheese flavored tablets eaten between meals contains huge amounts of safe and effective vegetarian systemic enzymes along with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory herbs.
Probiotics and Supporting the Immune System
Next let’s consider why it's important to support the immune system. If a protein allergen does sneak in and it cannot be digested by the systemic enzymes in the body, we want to insure the immune system is strong enough to handle the attack. When it comes to your pet’s immune system 80% of the immune system is located in the gut. Probiotics- or good guy bacteria- are the most important factor to keep in mind to regulate and support a good strong immune response. Total-Biotics® contains 14 different species of probiotics with prebiotics and a patented ingredient to actually heal the gut. Adding probiotics at every meal improves digestion, strengthens the immune system, lowers inflammation and lessens allergies.
To prevent allergies in our pets:
Try to prevent exposure to chemicals that can cause sensitivities
Supplement with digestive enzymes daily to improve digestion while sparing systemic enzymes
Add systemic enzymes in between meals
Feed a low allergen grain free food
Supplement with probiotics to strengthen the immune system