Did you know that that anywhere between 10% and 40% of dogs suffer from allergies? They’re a big problem.
We talk a lot about food allergies … but environmental allergies in dogs are actually more common.
If your dog has allergy symptoms, don’t panic. There are some solutions.
What Causes Environmental Allergies In Dogs?
Allergies happen when your dog’s immune system overreacts to something in her environment … known as a “trigger.” That trigger could be something like pollen, dust, mold or other substances in the air. The antibodies in your dog’s immune system identify these substances as dangerous … even though they may not be.
Here’s more detail on how it happens …
Stem cells that live in your dog’s bone marrow produce a specialized white blood cell called a B cell. Antibodies come from these B cells. These antibodies identify anything that shouldn’t be in your dog’s body … like viruses, parasites or allergens.
There are 5 different classes of antibodies in your dog’s body .. immunoglobulins known as IgA, IgB, IgC, IgD and IgE. It’s the IgE antibodies that identify allergens.
When an allergen (the trigger) enters your dog’s body, the IgE antibodies alert the immune system to get rid of it.
At the same time, those IgE antibodies also attach to mast cells. Mast cells in the connective tissues help regulate the immune system. They contain chemicals like histamines that fight allergens. When allergens enter the body, mast cells release the histamines to kill them.
Sure, that sounds good … but unfortunately, these histamines cause redness and inflammation, itching and irritation.
Types of Allergies and Symptoms
Allergies can come from something in your dog’s diet or something in her environment. Both have similar symptoms.
You can usually remove a certain food from your dog’s diet … but you often can’t get rid of environmental triggers.
Some of the most common triggers in dogs are tree, grass and weed pollens, mold and dust.
Environmental allergies in dogs are usually seasonal. Dogs may get very itchy in the spring and fall, with fewer symptoms during winter or summer months. Your dog will usually start to display symptoms between 1 and 3 years old.
Common symptoms of allergies in dogs include:
- Itching and scratching
- Ear infections
- Hair loss
- Chewing or licking paws
6 Natural Solutions For Environmental Allergies In Dogs
Some say that the best way to protect your dog is to stay away from the source of the irritation. And sure, that makes sense. But often, this isn’t doable. After all, if your dog is allergic to tree pollen, can you avoid going outside for weeks on end? Nope.
Others may suggest a steroid or anti-allergy drug like Atopica or Apoquel. These are a huge problem. These risky drugs work by suppressing part of your dog’s immune response. This can damage your dog’s immune system, leaving it open to attack.
Holistic veterinarian Deva Khalsa VMD explains how Atopica and Apoquel work. Read these articles before using either of these drugs for your dog. Avoid these dangerous conventional treatments if you can.
So, if you can’t remove the allergen and you want to stay away from dangerous drugs, how can you ease your dog’s suffering? Here are a few natural solutions that can help.
1. Bovine Colostrum
Cows produce colostrum in mother’s first milk, immediately after giving birth. This helps young calves build up their own immunity. Excess colostrum the calves don’t need can help manage your dog’s allergies.
The primary antibody in bovine colostrum is IgG. It can help boost your dog’s immunity to common allergens. The cow who produces the colostrum has immunity to these allergens. When you feed your dog colostrum, she takes in the cow’s antibodies.
Research shows that another ingredient also helps reduce allergy symptoms. Proline-rich polypeptide (PRP) in colostrum is an anti-inflammatory. It may also help create special T-cells that switch off the allergic response
To give colostrum for dog allergies, you can use either a powder or a capsule. Give:
- ⅓ tsp powdered colostrum per 25 lbs of body weight, twice a day
- Small dogs 1 capsule twice daily
- Medium to large dogs: 2 capsules twice daily
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw, organic apple cider vinegar can relieve allergy itches. It also helps get rid of the offending allergens.
One of the most common effects of environmental allergies in dogs is itchy feet. This is usually because of the constant exposure to allergens (like pollen). Try a foot bath to help:
- Mix two parts water and one part apple cider vinegar in a bucket or the tub.
- Soak your dog’s paws for up to five minutes each.
- Don’t rinse, but dry her paws well after soaking.
You can even have this prepared and at the door to rinse as soon as your dog comes inside from a walk.
If her skin is itchy, you can also use an apple cider vinegar rinse for her whole body.
All you need is:
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup cooled green tea
- 1 cup filtered water
After bathing your dog with a natural shampoo, rinse her all over with the ACV mixture, then pat dry.
If your dog has flea allergies, use an apple cider vinegar spray. This will make her skin and coat unattractive to fleas.
What you need:
- 4 oz warm water
- 6 oz apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsp of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
Mix the ingredients in a small spray bottle. Spray your dog’s coat and underbelly weekly. Avoid her eyes or any open wounds (it can sting).
3. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is a mix of the pollen collected by bees and enzymes from the bees themselves. It can help manage environmental allergies in dogs.
Why? When bees gather pollen, they’re not picky. They go to all kinds of different flowers before heading back to the hive. This means chances are good that the bees are collecting pollen that makes your dog itch.
Giving your dog a small dose of the pollen she’s allergic to helps desensitize her to the pollens.
Two things to think about:
- Make sure the pollen comes from local bees so that it contains allergens from your area. If you use bee pollen from somewhere else it may not contain any of the allergens that cause your dog’s symptoms.
- Start with a low dose. Give one granule the first day, mixed in her food. Watch for any response, and if there isn’t one, give two the next day. Increase the amount over several weeks to a dose of 1 tsp per 30 lbs of body weight per day.
There are herbs that contain anti-allergy properties.
Nettles. The histamine content in nettles can protect the body from an attack of allergens. You can dry the herbs or make nettle leaf tea. You can also sauté fresh nettles in a pan with coconut oil until tender and add to your dog’s food.
- If you use a tincture – give 1 drop for every 25 pounds, two to three times per day.
- Make a tea using 1 oz of herb in a quart of filtered water. Boil the water, add the herbs, then cover it and let it steep for 30 minutes. Give 1 Tbsp of the cooled tea for every 25 pounds divided for morning and evenings with food.
- For topical relief, make a compress. Put tincture or tea on a clean cotton cloth and cover the affected area. Use hot or cold.
Astragalus. Astragalus helps boost the immune system and relieve allergy symptoms. To give it to your dog, use powder or capsules, and give 100 mg per 10 lbs of your dog’s weight per day. You can also use a tincture and drop some right into your dog’s food.
[Related] Herbs are great for all kinds of skin conditions – not just allergies. Find the best here.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research shows omega-3 fatty acids help regulate the inflammatory response that causes allergies.
You’ll find the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in cold water oily fish … so mackerel and sardines are good choices to feed. They have a higher content of EPA and DHA, the fatty acids that help regulate inflammation.
You can also add a supplement with these fatty acids. We don’t recommend fish oil … because every time you open the bottle, the fat oxidizes, causing it to go rancid. Rancid oils lead to more inflammation.
Instead, try something like phytoplankton. It contains omega-3s, plus trace minerals, chlorophyll, essential amino acids, carotenoids and antioxidants.
[Related] Do you feed fish oil to your dog? Here are 5 reasons to dump it.
When your dog’s body encounters an allergen, it releases histamine. Histamine contributes to inflammation, redness and irritation. Quercetin (a bioflavonoid) contains antihistamine compounds that can stop this production.
Research shows that quercetin can actually turn off histamine production. It can also stop the production of inflammatory molecules and prevent itching.
It works so well that it has earned the name “Nature’s Benadryl.”
Some fruit and vegetables contain quercetin. You can add these to your dog’s diet:
You can also give a quercetin supplement. Buy a quercetin supplement for humans. Assume the dosing recommendation is for a 150 lb human and adjust for your dog’s weight.
Caution: Don’t use quercetin supplements long-term. Only give it for as long as is necessary. Do not give quercetin to dogs with kidney disease.
[Related] If your dog is itchy, no matter the cause, there are more natural solutions here.
Other Tips To Deal With Environmental Allergies In Dogs
- Feed a fresh, raw diet to boost gut health and improve your dog’s natural immunity.
- Change your furnace filter often so fewer allergens are in the air.
- When you vacuum, let your dog hang out in a different room. Vacuuming can stir up those allergens and cause the allergies to spike.
- Give her a good old fashioned wipe down with a damp cloth or towel. Sure, it sounds simple, but it helps to remove the offending allergens.
- Replace your chemical cleaning products with more natural options. This does double duty: it protects your dog from the harmful ingredients in the cleaners. And it can prevent the allergies that may come from exposure to them. You can find a bunch of safe recipes that won’t irritate your dog here.