You might not know this, but dog allergies are one of the top reasons dogs are euthanized. That’s because treating allergies is expensive and rarely works. And nobody likes to see their dog suffer.
Itchy skin, hot spots, anal glands, ears or feet, digestive problems and chronic diarrhea … these allergy symptoms can make life miserable for your dog and for you. And the drugs your vet wants your dog to take will make them worse over time …
The good news is there are natural options that will give your dog some allergy relief.
Why Conventional Drugs Don’t Work
The drugs vets give suppress important parts of your dog’s immune system. This might reduce your dog’s reaction to allergens … but it disables his immune system. This means cancer cells, viruses and bacteria can grow unchecked in your dog. There’s no functional immune system to find and destroy harmful invaders.
So the benefit of your dog’s allergy drugs comes at a very high cost to your dog. It’s a price you don’t want to pay.
What About Allergy Diets?
If your dog needs relief from his allergies, your vet will probably recommend expensive prescription dog foods. But according to pet food formulator Meg Smart DVM PhD, these diets contain a lot of harmful ingredients that can make your dog’s allergies worse.
One of these harmful ingredients is hydrolyzed protein. The process needed to make these hydrolyzed proteins is the problem as it creates monosodium glutamate (MSG) … and MSG can cause brain damage. According to Dr Smart, hydrolyzed proteins have not been effective in fighting allergies in clinical trials … and have even caused more skin problems.
Most allergy or hypoallergenic dog foods are also full of starch … and starch aggravates allergy symptoms. Finally, most prescription dog foods your vet recommends contain low quality oils … that become rancid. And they contain fillers like powdered cellulose … which is basically sawdust.
Instead of prescription allergy diets, Dr Smart recommends preparing your own dog food. Then you know exactly what’s in it.
So, if you want to actually fix your dog’s allergies long term … without the harmful side effects, then check out these top natural options for allergy relief for dogs:
Natural Remedies For Dog Allergies
Let’s go through the list, from most effective to least effective.
But with that said, not every dog responds to the same remedies. You might need to combine or change remedies to start seeing changes in your dog.
# 1 Colostrum And Dog Allergies
Colostrum is naturally found in mother’s first milk. It plays a vital role in developing the newborn’s immune system and digestive tract. But colostrum can help adult animals too (and for more than just allergies). Colostrum contains an component called proline-rich polypeptide (PRP) (6).
Research shows PRP helps improve allergy symptoms. It does this by changing the way the immune system responds to allergens. PRP can inhibit immune cells that ramp up allergic reactions. It can also help create immune cells (helper T-cells and suppressor T-cells) that suppress and switch off the immune response. PRP is also anti-inflammatory and can reduce histamine that triggers allergic reactions.
Bovine colostrum also supplies your dog with antibodies to common allergens. That’s because cows develop antibodies to pollen, fleas and other allergens they’re exposed to. The cows then pass these antibodies to their calves. The calves won’t develop allergies to these substances. So when you give your dog colostrum, those antibodies can tell his immune system that these common substances aren’t a threat. This can help provide the allergy relief that your dog needs.
Colostrum works especially well with environmental allergies and seasonal allergies.
How Much Colostrum Do Dogs Need?
Colostrum comes in either powdered or capsule form. It’s most effective when given on an empty stomach, but you can also put it in a little yogurt or broth.
Use it daily for a month to start, then give as needed if your dog’s allergy symptoms resolve, in these amounts …
- 1/8 tsp powdered colostrum per 25 lbs of body weight, twice a day
# 2 Mushrooms And Dog Allergies
Not that long ago, we made a medicinal mushroom product for dogs with cancer. The crazy part is, it didn’t just help with cancer …
… we discovered mushrooms also helped dogs with all types of dog allergies. And researchers are investigating that link. Mushrooms contain a substance called beta-glucan.
Beta-glucan is a fiber that’s found in the cell walls of certain substances … especially mushrooms. Beta glucan is also found in many types of seaweed, algae, some cereals (grains) and yeast. However, only beta-glucans from certain mushrooms have immune-modulating properties.
Beta-glucans change the immune response in allergies by binding to specific immune cells. This modifies their response … and prevents the inflammation, autoimmunity and allergic reactions they can cause. Beta-glucans can also activate immune cells called macrophages. Macrophages target, trap and remove foreign substances that don’t belong in the body, like viruses and cancer cells.
So, when you give your dog beta glucan, his immune cells will become more active and more powerful. This can help relieve your dog’s allergies without the harmful side effects of allergy medication.
How To Give Your Dog Mushrooms
The first thing you should know is that you shouldn’t give your dog raw mushrooms. Make sure that you cook them … or you can dehydrate them. After you cook or dehydrate the mushrooms, you can add them to food or make a broth from them.
You also want to remember not all mushrooms contain beta-glucans. The mushrooms with the highest content are:
- Reishi (Ganaderma lucidum)
- Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
- Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Medium-sized dogs should get about 400 to 500 mg of mushrooms, once or twice a day.
If you’re buying medicinal mushrooms for your dog, be sure your mushroom has a certificate of analysis with a beta-glucan content of at least 30%. And make sure the mushroom product doesn’t have a high starch content … so you know the beta-glucans are from mushrooms, not cheap cereals and grains.
# 3 Quercetin And Dog Allergies
Quercetin is a phytonutrient found in fruits and vegetables. It’s an antioxidant and it also antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
Quercetin is called Nature’s Benadryl because it can turn off histamine production. Histamines are chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Research has shown that quercetin prevents immune cells from releasing histamines. Quercetin is in foods like broccoli and apples. But it’s best to give your dog quercetin in a supplement, so you get the concentrated benefits.
How Much Quercetin For Dogs With Allergies?
For a convenient way to give your dog some allergy relief, try a quercetin supplement. Quercetin supplements come in pill, powder or capsule form. They often contain bromelain, which is an enzyme that makes quercetin more effective.
Quercetin is best given on an empty stomach. The recommended dose is 8 mg for every pound of your dog’s weight.
- For a 20 lb dog, give 160 mg
- For a 50 lb dog, give 400 mg
# 4 Nettles For Dog Allergies
A herb called nettles can help manage your dog’s allergies.
In their book Herbs for Pets, Gregory Tilford and Mary Wulff explain that nettles contain histamines. The histamines work in a small dose. Think “like cures like” … the plant stimulates the body to protect itself from allergens. Nettles also contain quercetin, which boosts nettles’ anti-allergy effects.
How Much Nettles Should Dogs Get?
If they’re growing nearby, you can pick nettles yourself … but wear good gloves because they sting!
You can dry the herbs, or make nettle leaf tea. Or, as herbalist Rita Hogan recommends, sauté fresh nettles in a pan with MCT oil until tender, then add to your dog’s food. You can also use a pre-made nettle tincture. Give 2 drops per 10 lbs of your dog’s body weight per day.
Dr Jodie Gruenstern also likes to use cooled nettle leaf tea topically for itchy skin or even as a rinse for itchy eyes.
# 5 Baking Soda
Baking soda is another great allergy relief option for dogs. It’s cheap and can work wonders! It calms itchy, inflamed skin.
Here are 2 recipes you can make at home:
Baking Soda Paste
Mix 1 Tbsp of baking soda with a little water to make a paste. Place it on itchy, reddened areas and leave it on for a few hours before washing it off.
This is very useful if your dog has itchy feet: place it between the toes or on top of the feet. If it falls off onto your carpet, it won’t do any harm – just vacuum it up.
Baking Soda Spray
Mix 1 Tbsp baking soda with 8 oz water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray your dog’s skin as necessary.
Shake the mixture each time before using.
# 6 Licorice For Your Dog’s Allergies
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) is an easy to find herb. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have used licorice as a harmonizer for allergy patients for thousands of years. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), licorice tonifies the spleen, benefits the Qi, moistens the lung … stops coughing, clears heat, detoxifies Fire Poison (boils, sore throat) and soothes spasms (1).
A study of a substance in licorice called glycyrrhizic acid showed that it has a codeine-like effect. Licorice can also relieve inflammation in the digestive tract … and helps remove mucus from the respiratory tract. Just what the doctor ordered for allergy sufferers!
Giving Licorice To Dogs
Tilford and Wulff recommend working with your vet. This is because dosage varies widely, depending on your dog’s condition. But they suggest starting with 12 to 20 drops per 20 lbs of body weight twice daily, using a low alcohol licorice extract. If you’re using a tea, triple that dose.
# 7 Aloe Leaf
Keep an aloe plant in the house and you can use it for all sorts of skin issues … from your own sunburns to your dog’s itchy skin.
Or you can buy fresh aloe leaves at the grocery store – they’ll keep for three days in the refrigerator. Fresh aloe gel contains enzymes that help heal itchy skin and decrease inflammation. These enzymes are only in the fresh plant and not in the bottled gel.
How To Give Your Dog Aloe
Slice the leaf open and scoop out the clear gel inside. Avoid the yellow goo around the rind. The yellow stuff is a form of latex and you should not use it for your dog. If you’re buying bottled aloe, make sure it’s food-grade so it has the latex removed.
Apply the gel to itchy areas – it will cool and calm the skin to provide your dog with some relief.
# 8 Probiotics
Probiotics can be a way to help with your dog’s allergies. Probiotics are living bacteria that colonize in your dog’s gut. They’re little factories that can …
- Absorb nutrients like calcium, magnesium and iron (2).
- Protect your dog from viruses, bad bacteria and fungi (3).
- Enable better digestion and nutrient absorption (4).
- Help produce B vitamins.
So how do probiotics help with your dog’s allergies? Nearly 90% of your dog’s immune system is in his gut. The good (probiotic) bacteria can help reduce bad bacteria in your dog’s gut. In turn, this can help reduce inflammation and autoimmune responses.
While research is still ongoing, there have been a number of studies done showing probiotics reduced allergy symptoms … and in some cases, removed them (5).
How To Give Your Dog Probiotics
The easiest way to give your dog probiotics for allergy relief (or any condition) is with supplements.
When you choose a probiotic, you may want to look for soil based probiotics. Soil based probiotics are more resilient than standard probiotics. This means they’re more likely to survive the trip through your dog’s gut so you only need 1 to 5 billion CFUs (colony forming units).
If using a Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium product, you want to make sure that the probiotics have:
- More than one strain of bacteria
- At least 30 billion CFUs
You should be able to find both of these listed on the label of the probiotic. Don’t buy a probiotic that doesn’t disclose these details.
Also, you’ll want to give prebiotics, which make probiotics more effective. Prebiotics are indigestible fiber that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut … including the probiotic bacteria.
If you buy a probiotic for dogs, follow the dosing instructions on the package. If it’s a human product, assume that the dosage is for a person weighing 150 lbs, and adjust the amount for your dog’s weight.
# 9 Omega-3s
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that are good for you and your dog … the “good fats.” In particular, there are some omega-3s that are great to help relieve your dog’s allergies.
Certain omega-3s can help calm your dog’s inflammatory reaction. This includes eicosatetraenoic Acid (ETA), eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), and stearidonic Acid (SDA). Their anti-inflammatory properties decrease allergy symptoms like itching and scratching.
How To Give Your Dog Omega-3s
You can find ETA, EPA and SDA omega-3s in:
Adding the right omega-3s to your dog’s food may give your dog some relief from his allergies. You can find SDA, EPA, and ETA omega-3s in supplement form. Just make sure to use the right ones.
Allergies Are Treatable!
If your dog suffers from allergies, pick 2 or 3 remedies to start with. You might just find you can skip the elimination diets, blood tests and harmful side effects …
Natural solutions work … without harming your dog’s immune system. Why not try them today and give your dog natural allergy relief!
1. Anderson D, Smith WG. The antitussive activity of glycyrrhetinic acid and its derivatives. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. September 1961.
2. Dubey M, Patel V. Probiotics: A promising tool for calcium absorption. Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Dharamsinh Desai University. 31, August 2018.
3. Marsella R, Santoro D, Ahrens K. Early exposure to probiotics in a canine model of atopic dermatitis has long-term clinical and immunological effects. PubMed.gov. 15, April 2012.
4. Jager R, Purpura M, Farmer S, Cash H, Keller D. Probiotic bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 improves protein absorption and utilization. PubMed.gov. 10, December 2018.
5. Kim H, Rather I, Kim H, Kim S. Kim T, Jang J, Seo J, Lim J, Park YH. A double-blind, placebo controlled-trial of a probiotic strain lactobacillus sakei probio-65 for the prevention of canine atopic dermatitis. PubMed.gov. 25, November 2015.
6. Janusz M, Zabłocka A. Colostral proline-rich polypeptides–immunoregulatory properties and prospects of therapeutic use in Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2010 Jun;7(4):323-33.