Oct 06 , 2020
You don’t have to be Dr. Dolittle to understand when your pet is telling you he doesn’t feel well. The signs and symptoms speak louder than words!
Pets can have the same symptoms as humans when they aren’t feeling well; sneezing and coughing are the first signs that there might be something abnormal happening in your pet’s health. Other tell-tell signs are licking or chewing on their feet, swollen paws, inflamed ears and of course, the least favorite, irregular bowels.
These symptoms could all very well be signs of pet allergies. Just like in people, the immune system of a healthy pet will react to bacteria, spores and viruses by launching an attack against these irritants.
Most pets are indoor/outdoor pets, which subjects their immune systems to a myriad of particles. Unlike the bacteria and spores, most of these particles won’t harm your pet.
If your pet has allergies, his over-active immune system treats common irritants as an assault on his system. Just like in humans, when your pet’s body engages an immune response, and allergic symptoms appear.
What is the Best Treatment?
Symptoms of inflammation are produced from the inside out, therefore ointments, shampoos, sprays and dips can only provide temporary topical relief. They are beneficial to use to make your pet comfortable during a flare-up, however long-term treatment must focus on balancing your pet’s immune system.
Just as in humans, steroids (prednisone, cortisone, or allergy shots) are used in pets as well, but they are the least optimal treatment choice; steroids work by suppressing your pet’s immune system and actually turn the immune system off, which improves the symptoms remarkably fast but doesn’t address the root issue of why your pet’s immune system is over-reacting in the first place.
Steroids can have a negative effect on your pet. In addition to suppressing the immune system, steroids can damage your pet’s liver, adrenal glands and kidneys. Before considering steroids, keep in mind that suppressing your pet’s immune system also allows for opportunistic yeast and bacteria to grow on your pet’s skin, sometimes increasing the chances that antibiotics may have to be prescribed.
Again, just as in humans, antibiotics increase the likelihood of yeast overgrowth, and cause your pet to smell like a corn chip! Even worse, they can become insanely itchy, which sends you back to the vet for more steroids. This is a vicious cycle, which is best to avoid.
I have to mention that healthy pets do not smell bad. Yeast overgrowth emits a musty smell, and if your pet smells this way, there’s no doubt that he may have a problem with yeast overgrowth. Many people assume their pets smell musty because they are dirty, which clearly is not the case. You should only bathe your pet because they are dirty, not because they’re smelly!
In the end, the foods you feed your pet will eventually heal or harm them. Feeding pets healing, non-allergenic foods will allow their immune systems to rest. Rebalancing your pet’s immune system by offering natural, biologically appropriate wholesome foods is necessary to begin the road to recovery. Also remember that the more variety you include in your pet’s diet, the less likely your pet will be to react to the same monotonous foods. Nutritional variety is not only the spice of life, it’s critical for a balanced and healthy immune response — and for keeping your pet allergy-free.
Article by: Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, NMD
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