In recent times, allergies and immune system imbalance have become an extremely serious health problem in humans and animals alike. These cases can be very frustrating for everyone, but with patience, holistic veterinary medicine is highly effective in treating allergies and often offering animals a cure.
Allergy Risk Factors
Weakened Immune System
When an animal’s immune system is functioning inappropriately and becomes over-reactive, the animal is at greater risk for cancer and viral infections. It’s almost as if the immune system becomes distracted and spends too much time responding to perceived and/or real allergens (triggers). There are hundreds if not thousands of biochemical reactions involved with allergic reactions.
Vaccines & Vaccinosis
Vaccines impact the immune system and can leave an animal highly vulnerable to allergies.
The use of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals can weaken an animal’s immune system, leaving it more vulnerable to allergies. A diet lacking in antioxidant protection from these toxins renders the animal even further susceptible.
Diet and Allergies
Food allergies, or food hypersensitivity, can develop in response to almost any protein or carbohydrate component in food. Grains of all types can trigger an allergic response, although the glutinous grains appear to be most common, including wheat, oats, rice and barley. Corn and soy appear to be less common. Other foods known to cause an allergic reaction include red meats and chicken, fish and fish oils (yes even the good ones!), yeast and kelp.
Certain breeds present with allergic symptoms at a young age. Some known breeds include Westies, Poodles, Shelties, Bulldogs, Boxers and Labradors and Retrievers.
Humans & Other Pets
An animal can have an allergic response to dander from humans, or other pets within the household.
- itching *either localized (in one area) or generalized (all over the body)
- chronic ear infections
- excessive eye discharge
- gagging (especially after eating a specific food)
- obsessive behaviors (inability to calm down)
- chronic digestive problems
- epileptic seizures
- immune-mediated diseases like temporal myositis (rare)
Skin scraping can be valuable in ruling out irritation caused by parasites, including fleas, mites, mange and ringworm. It can also detect the presence of yeast growth. All of these are commonly found on young animals. Many times a bacterial or yeast infection will occur secondarily to an allergy because the allergy has created an ideal damp-heat condition for its growth, not unlike a petri dish. To further complicate matters, the secondary conditions (demodectic mange, yeast and bacterial infections, etc.) are likely due to an underlying problem with the immune system. Conventional medicine rarely addresses the root cause and instead treats the secondary problem.
In my practice, the identification of allergens through the use of NAET (Nambrudipad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) has proven to be highly successful, even with the most severe of cases.
Conventional treatments for allergies typically focus on alleviating symptoms with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines. In Chinese medicine, it’s thought that many of these pharmaceutical-based treatments temporarily help because they’re ‘Cooling’ to the overheated immune system. However, the medication creates an imbalance within the body, and once treatment is ceased, the symptoms often return and to a much greater degree. The use of hypo-sensitization injections by veterinary dermatologists for conditions such as allergic dermatitis, atopy, or skin allergies works less than 50 percent of the time – however it can be an effective non-pharmaceutical approach in controlling severe symptoms.
The most effective treatment in the elimination of allergies is the use of NAET. It’s an energetic treatment that allows the clearing of individual allergens one at a time through a combination of chiropractic and acupuncture.
What You Can Do
Using a flea comb to regularly check for, and remove fleas from your animal is simple. Be very thorough and don’t overlook the armpits, belly or under the tail. Place the comb as close to the skin as possible before running it through the fur. Any live fleas should be removed and flicked into a half-filled bucket of soapy water. Filling it only half way makes it more difficult for them to jump out. If you don’t see any fleas, check for flea dirt. Flea dirt is a nicer way of calling it what it really is – flea feces. Flea dirt will fall off your animal when combed and is nearly impossible to see (unless it actually sticks to the comb). Placing a wet white paper towel under your pet will catch the small black flecks. Spray the black flecks with water, and if they turn a reddish-brown color, you’re seeing the digested blood of your animal in the form of flea feces. Even if you find no trace of fleas or flea dirt, bathe your animal with a shampoo containing neem oil. Do NOT use undiluted neem (or other) essential oils. It’s highly toxic and will cause far more harm than good.
Enlist Help from Your Vet
Go on a rigorous parasite-finding mission with the help of your veterinarian. You may have to be a bit assertive if he or she is conventional. Request a skin scraping, cultures and have them audit your flea combing findings.
Antihistamines will temporarily reduce inflammation and itching. They can be purchased over-the-counter, but are not as effective as those prescribed by a veterinarian. Even then, the relief is quite minimal. Unlike steroid, or other immunosuppressive therapies, antihistamines generally have no long term side-effects.
Changing your animal’s food to a novel protein source may be of benefit because their immune system hasn’t identified it as an allergen trigger. Also avoiding grains, and switching meats, eggs and fish after a week can prevent sensitization to certain amino acids because it’s not given long enough to be identified as a trigger. Feeding a raw diet is especially helpful short term because of its ‘Cooling’ effect. Foods that have a ‘Cooling’ effect include pork, fish, millet and green vegetables. If you’re preparing homemade raw or cooked meals for your cat or dog, you must include calcium. You need to be aware of the necessary ratios of supplements that need to be added to homemade meals.
Including antioxidants, bio-flavinoids and vitamins can be helpful in reducing inflammation. Vitamin therapy, especially Vit-E, Vit-C, Omega Fatty Acids and Ubiquinol (a form of Coenzyme Q10) have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Do NOT add all of these at once. Begin with one and add it to meals for at least three days before adding another. Watch closely over the three days for any signs of problems.
The daily use of acupressure on the ‘Immune Gates’ can be highly effective if done consistently over weeks, or months. For more information on these and many other acupoints, you can read Cheryl Schwartz’s book, ‘Four Paws Five Directions’. It includes marked-up photographs that clearly illustrate the location of many acupoints and meridians.