Whether you’re human or animal, allergies are miserable. Of course, at least people can take steps to avoid or get rid of the allergens. Your dog, however, is relying on you to ease the itching, sneezing, and soreness. In extreme cases, you might need to turn to steroids and other medications to treat allergies, but these can have side effects, which means your pet might be trading one type of discomfort for another. Another approach is to try simple home remedies to treat your dog’s allergies.
Next time your pet starts suffering, try these at-home options to relieve symptoms and even eliminate the source of misery altogether.
1. Increase fatty acids
Fatty acids are important for a healthy immune system. Dogs produce some of the fatty acids they need, but not all of them, so they need to obtain more of these so-called “essential” fatty acids from their diet or supplements. A dog suffering from allergies may need more DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), fatty acids found in marine fish oil. You can increase the amount of fish in your dog’s diet but to get the full allergy-fighting benefits, you may want to consider giving your dog a fish oil supplement. If your dog is allergic to fish, however, you should avoid DHA and EPA supplements as well as fish in their food.
2. Ward off fleas naturally
If your dog is allergic to flea saliva then even one bite can cause flea allergy dermatitis, a severe skin rash that causes itchiness and can lead to sores and hair loss. There are many over-the-counter and prescription flea control products, including collars, shampoos, oral medication, and spot-on treatments that can help protect your dog from fleas. However, since dogs with severe allergies can also be sensitive to chemicals, you may want to look for a more natural treatment.
Apple cider vinegar has long been a simple home remedy used to soothe irritated skin, so you can apply it directly to a rash caused by fleas. It may also be able to prevent flea infestations. Put diluted vinegar (available at your corner grocery store) in a spray bottle and spray your dog all over following a bath. The vinegar acts as a barrier on your pet’s skin, making it inhospitable to fleas and stopping them from even thinking of attacking your dog.
3. Try some probiotics
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that improve digestive health and, according to some enthusiasts, can boost a pet’s immune system and reduce allergies. Some studies of people do show probiotics may be able to fight allergies. There’s no solid evidence that they will help a dog who’s predisposed to environmental or contact allergies, though. Still, many pet parents say that they’ve seen significant improvement after putting a dog on probiotics. You won’t want to feed your dog yogurt, though. Several brands of dog food claim to provide probiotics, but giving your dog a supplement is probably the most efficient way to increase their probiotics intake. You might want to consult a holistic veterinarian for advice on what type of supplement to try for your pet.
4. Focus on cleanliness
Good grooming and cleanliness are very important to ease a dog’s allergies. If your dog’s skin is itchy and irritated, bathing should provide at least some instant relief, but you should be sure to use a homemade shampoo or a gentle and chemical-free commercial wash. If you know or suspect that the allergen is something outside, you may be able to nip things in the bud by simply wiping your dog down as soon as they come inside. Wash off paws and brush your pet to help keep irritants away.
5. Invest in an air purifier
If your dog suffers from year-round allergies, it’s likely that something in your home is causing the misery. Regularly vacuuming and washing your pet’s bedding may help, but if your dog has a severe reaction to dust mites or other allergens, you might want to invest in an air purifier. Specifically, research shows that HEPA filters can remove dust and particles that cause allergy symptoms. According to researchers, these filters work better than ion-generating air purifiers.
More on Dog Allergies
Know Your Options: Allergy Meds for Dogs
Dog And Cat Dermatitis: Itchy Skin In Pets
Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats
References and Resources
Boyle, R.J., Tang, M. L., “The role of probiotics in the management of allergic disease,” Clinical and Experimental Allergy. May 2006: 36(5): 568-76 (Accessed online December 8, 2013 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16650040)
“Inadequate air cleaning ability, production of harmful ozone plague ion-generating products sold as air cleaners,” University of Texas at Austin. Sept. 15, 2005 (Accessed online December 8, 2013 http://www.utexas.edu/news/2005/09/15/engineering/)
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.