Watching your beloved dog or cat suffer from allergies is enough to make any pet owner worry. The watery eyes, the sneezing and itching, and having to be careful which foods and plants your pet comes into contact with can make it difficult to care for your pet and detract from the fun times you can have together over the spring and summer.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent your pet from developing allergies in the first place, and natural remedies to help with allergies they can take. 

Health Begins in the Gut

You may have heard it said about humans, but this basic rule of health applies to pets too: A healthy balance of intestinal flora (especially good bacteria) in the small and large intestines is vital to a healthy immune system and is also the first line of defense against inflammation. 

When the microbiome gets out of balance, the body becomes more susceptible to infection and inflammation and can even start to attack itself. 

“Allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that is typically harmless. When a pet is allergic to pollen, for example, the body will sense a danger from the substance, even though none typically exists,” said Johanna Reel, a registered veterinary technician. “To combat that ‘danger,’ the body releases a substance called histamine. Histamine causes the symptoms of allergies which we see, such as runny eyes and nose, sneezing and itching. This is why pharmaceuticals to combat allergic responses are called anti-histamines.”

What Causes Allergies?

Cats and dogs can have a histamine response to all sorts of allergens in their food and their environment. Consider possible sources like household cleaners, carpet deodorizers, insecticides, and cigarette smoke. But their allergies can easily be caused by natural sources like pollen, plants, mold, and dust mites.

A dog on the beach

What are the Dangers of Allergies?

Allergies can cause or worsen other conditions a pet might be dealing with, so pet parents need to be extra careful if their cat or dog has other skin or respiratory sensitivities or issues, such as atopy and asthma.

“Feline asthma is a common respiratory disease in cats that can be aggravated by allergens like cigarette smoke or dust mites. If your pet shows signs of these conditions, it’s critical to provide extra support for their health and wellbeing,” said Patra De Silva, President and Founder of NHV Natural Pet.

Restoring our Pets back to Health

So, what can we do if our four-legged friend already has a compromised gut and is suffering as a result? The answer lies in the correct nutrition, clean water, a clean environment, and a few high-quality supplements.

Balanced Nutrition

A balanced nutrition plan is extremely important in maintaining your pet’s health.

 Protein has several roles in the body, such as building and repairing muscles and other body tissues. It is needed to form new skin cells, grow hair, build muscle tissue, and more. It also assists in creating body chemicals like hormones and enzymes that are needed for normal function. It provides energy and keeps the immune system balanced. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and dogs require 22 amino acids to make all of their necessary proteins. A pet’s body is able to make about half of these needed amino acids on its own, but the rest must come from the food your pet eats every day. Because these amino acids are so important, they are called essential amino acids. Deficiencies of any of the essential amino acids over time can lead to health problems. A pet’s body can’t store up protein like it can fat and other nutrients, so this nutrient must be supplied in the daily diet.

 "Though dogs and cats are carnivores, grains and other carbohydrates are still a natural and important part of their diet,” De Silva said

Many times today’s domesticated dogs and cats are compared to their wild ancestors. It’s important to remember that even wolves and wild cats consume grains. They don’t necessarily consume these grains conventionally, they are consumed as a part of their meal when they catch their prey. The stomach contents of a small rodent or rabbit add a lot of essential nutrients to a carnivorous diet. Sugar is the energy source for the body. Carbohydrates are metabolized in order to produce sugar, or energy, to the entire body. Grains an excellent source of these carbohydrates. Grains also contain essential amino acids. Amino acids are known as the “building blocks of life” Animals bodies can produce some of these amino acids on their own, but many must be taken in through diet, and this is where grains come in to play.

Clean Water

That brings us to the next point—water. A dog or cat who is drinking contaminated water out of a bacteria-filled bowl is much more likely to have a compromised immune system than one that drinks clean water. Make sure to clean your pet’s water and food bowls regularly with a non-toxic detergent (and/or hot water) and serve your pet the same quality of filtered water that you would drink yourself.

A dog and cat snuggled together

A Clean Environment

Many of the substances that bother our pets are actually harmful to our health too. If your pet is sensitive to pollen and fragrant flowers (or even if they aren’t), it’s a good idea to stick to non-toxic cleaning products in your home and avoid using perfumes, cigarettes, and incense in the home. 

If your indoor dog or cat suffers from hay fever or asthma, an air filter can help to trap plant and mold spores, paint fumes, dust, and other particles that would otherwise enter your pet’s nose and cause a reaction. Outdoor pets may, unfortunately, have to spend more time indoors in spring to lower their exposure to plant-based hay fever triggers. However, we hope that cleaning up their diet and environment will help to lower their reactivity in general!

Immune-Boosting Supplements

It may sound like an unnecessary extra, but a couple of well-chosen, natural supplements can help to give your allergy-suffering pet the support and balance they need. 

  • Omega-3

Fish oil and omega-3 supplements are known to reduce inflammation and can be given as a pet supplement in addition to including fresh fish and fish eggs in your pet’s diet.

  • Probiotics

Targeted probiotic supplements provide the healthy bacteria that keep the gut in balance—and a strong immune system begins in the gut. When shopping for a probiotic supplement for your dog or cat, choose one that has been formulated to be shelf stable or that has been kept in the refrigerator. Stand-alone probiotic supplements are much more effective than a pet kibble with probiotics added into the mix.

  • Supplements with Natural Ingredients

Supplements can help your pet reduce the immune response to allergens in their food and environment. Look for natural ingredients like Asian ginseng, astragalus, Echinacea Purpurea, Myrrh, ginger, eyebright, feverfew, and European goldenrod,

Alleviating the Symptoms if Your Pet Still Has an Allergy

If you have done all of the above and your pet still suffers from allergy symptoms, a natural allergy-relief treatment or topical anti-itch treatment can help to reverse the itching and scratching cycle and provide some much-needed sinus relief. A cone might also be helpful if your pet’s scratching has resulted in broken skin.

If your pet’s symptoms persist, please see a qualified veterinarian and they will be able to determine the best course of treatment for your furry friend.