No one ever considers watching an itching, chewing, biting, fur-ripping dog an evening of inexpensive family entertainment. No kid says, “Hey, look at the dog, Mom! Isn’t he funny?” The whole family scrunches down, feeling pained as they yell out, “Stop itching! Please, stop. Stop!”
Allergies are becoming much more prevalent in our pooches nowadays. Old fashioned drugs like Benadryl and steroids don’t work well any more. So new drugs such Atopica and Apoquel are prescribed routinely, to help dog owners find a quick fix for dog allergies. .
These and other kinase-inhibiting drugs sometimes work very well to stop the itching. But you’re making a deal with the devil when you use these drugs as they impair very necessary life functions in your dog’s body. It’s also very hard to wean a dog off of these drugs.
How Apoquel And Atopica Work
Apoquel works by destroying the communication system that cells need for survival. Cytokines are the cells’ communicators and kinases are also important signaling compounds that the body’s cells use to communicate with each other.
The particular kinases – Janus kinases, known as JAKs – targeted to fail by Apoquel do some very important work: policing the body against tumor formation; controlling body growth and development; white and red blood cell formation; providing immunity with proper functioning of the antibody-producing cells and the “policing” cells (T-cells); and regulating inflammation.
Pharmaceutical companies locked on to the immune-suppressing and anti-inflammatory effects, seeing it as a perfect way to treat allergies. Apoquel neutralizes the cytokines that act as messengers for the kinases. This interrupts and stops the JAKs from communicating, so they simply stop working.
Apoquel has pretty much replaced Atopica, which is cyclosporine. Cyclosporine is a mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are harmful products produced by fungi. They are chemical in nature and are immune-suppressing. Fungi rely on the mycotoxins they produce to kill any bacteria, other fungi, viruses and anything else that might compete with them. They suppress the immune system of dogs, cats and humans.
The immunosuppressive effects of cyclosporine were discovered in Switzerland in 1972 and it was used successfully in preventing organ rejection in kidney transplants and later in liver transplants. Apart from transplant medicine, cyclosporine is used for a variety of skin conditions in both humans and pets.
Natural Allergy Solutions Are Safer
Suffice it to say, the natural way is a better path than these suppressive drugs. The first step on that path is to reduce your dog’s chances of developing allergies. Minimizing vaccinations is a vital first step in helping avoid allergies in our dogs; vaccines dysregulate the immune system and cause it to over-react to foreign substances. I also like to recommend rotating the diet so your dog’s not fed the exact same thing every day.
But what if your dog already has allergies? There lies the rub. The first thing to do is develop an understanding of the allergic dog and his symptoms.
Identify The Allergens
Don’t assume that because your dog itches only at certain times of year, you can rule out food allergies. Draw an imaginary line in the air and call it the threshold. Under that line sit the offending allergens. Your dog may very well be allergic to chicken and egg (which are in vaccines) or beef (also in vaccines) or nutritional yeast, or some other foods he eats commonly, but it won’t be enough to push him above the threshold line. Add in the pollens and molds in spring and this might be just enough to push him above the threshold. So it may be a good idea to change to a novel protein and rotate a few different diets that work.
The reason I recommend rotating diets is that we tend to become allergic to what we’re routinely exposed to. Doctors snap on talc-filled latex gloves many times a day. First, we become allergic to talc so we order talc-free gloves. Then we become allergic to latex. We’re exposed to this so often and this constant exposure increases the likelihood of allergies developing. That’s why a dog who is allergic to chicken and beef goes on a lamb diet and does great for 6 months – and then he becomes allergic to lamb because he eats it day in and day out.
Caution With Fish
As a note, if you’ve been giving your dog fish oil every day for months hoping the omega-3s will help with the allergies, he’s likely now allergic to fish. So don’t use fish as a novel protein in this particular situation. I’ve been specializing in treating allergies for 30 years and this is very common with continual, long-term use of fish oil.
How The Itching Starts
Your mother said if you scratched that mosquito bite it would only make it itch more. This is exactly what happens with dogs. The more they scratch the more it itches and then it gets totally out of hand.
An allergy begins when immune-globulins in the skin alert the mast cells to release histamines in response to allergens. Dogs have about 10 times more mast cells in their skin than we humans do and they’re in a very different distribution pattern. If we people were set up just like our dogs we’d go into work itching our butts and inner thighs and chests and exclaim to our colleagues that the ragweed was terrible this year. We should be thankful for this, I think. (I must digress for a moment for while on the subject of differences, as we should also be extremely thankful that we humans did not wind up with anal glands. Gorillas have anal glands so we must have come in pretty close to the wire.)
Once our dogs start itching, what with all those mast cells, they must feel like we feel when we get poison ivy. So they chew and pull and chew and eventually ooze and scab up. It’s never a pretty picture. That’s why it’s important to nip the itch in the bud.
Problems With Allergy Testing
Unfortunately, most of the conventional testing for food allergies is only about 25% accurate. Environmental allergies are a bit more accurate at 40%. The base of allergens tested doesn’t always represent what your dog is actually exposed to, as there is only so much one can test. What’s important to me is that when you test your dog for allergies, the usual reaction is to spend year after year changing foods and scrutinizing every kind of food or treat that you give your dog. That’s about as much fun as watching your dog itch and bite and chew all day long. There are solutions that can work permanently and correct the errors in the immune system’s computer that cause the untoward reaction.
Quick Fix For Dog Allergies
Here’s how I handle dog allergies in my practice.
First, I use allergy elimination techniques based on NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Eliminaton Technique)m. I became certified in NAET and over the years, I’ve streamlined and refined this type of treatment into an efficient, effective, inexpensive treatment you can do right at home with your dog. It makes the allergic dog or cat into a pet with no allergies. The stress of finding foods and choosing foods is gone as the problem is solved. Other than this, there are holistic products I recommend to help alleviate the itching and calm the problem.
Topical Solutions For Dog Allergies
This is one of my favorites. You can mix it with water, making it into a poultice. Place it on the itchy area for an hour or so. Then wash it off. You can also mix a few tablespoons of baking soda per cup of water in a spray bottle and spray it on. You don’t need to wash the spray off. I like to use the poultice on itchy toes. Baking soda doesn’t mess up your carpets and floors, it’s not greasy and it doesn’t stain.
Aloe vera fresh from the plant works well if you have an isolated itchy area. But you need to use the plant, not aloe vera from a bottle. There’s all the difference in the world between the live plant and the bottled gel. You see, the live plant has enzymes that last (if you refrigerate the leaf after you cut it off the plant) for less than 3 days. Those special enzymes are not present in bottled aloe vera. The live enzymes are incredibly powerful and work rapidly to heal and decrease inflammation
Supplements For Dog Allergies
This antioxidant supplement has been called natural anti-histamine and it can help with itching in some dogs. Buy a human product and assume the dose is for a 150 lb person, then adjust the dose for your dog’s weight. You can also feed quercetin-rich foods like berries and apples (including the skin, where the quercetin is).
Standard Process Antronex®
This a great product for itchy dogs. I recommend 1 to 3 tablets three times a day for small, medium or large dogs. You’ll need to order it through your veterinarian.
Histoplex AB by Biotics Research
This herbal blend can be a very helpful product. I recommend 1 to 2 tablets two to three times a day depending on the size of the dog.
It can be incredibly frustrating when your dog has itchy allergies. Minimize vaccinations, avoid conventional allergy drugs, feed your dog a good varied whole food diet … and give natural remedies a try.