Dog Skin Allergies
The most perplexing and arduous condition to treat in most small animal practices is skin allergies. The professional approach to these problems is to treat the symptoms: the persistent scratching, inflamed skin, loss of hair, and (sometimes) bacterial infections. To accomplish this end, the practitioner will administer steroids, antibiotics, tranquilizers, and antihistamines. The administration of these drugs will usually give temporary relief; and prolonged use can create other more serious problems such as Cushing’s Syndrome, Addison’s Disease, liver and kidney disease.
There is a long list of causes of skin allergies in both the dog and the cat. First we must look at the diets of these animals. According to veterinary allergists, animal protein can be an allergen. Some of our pets are allergic to beef, some to chicken, turkey, and most to horse meat. The animal protein most seem to do well on is lamb. To determine the substances to which our pets are allergic, a series of allergy tests can be administered. Some patients when tested will test positive for all substances tested for. This is an indication that these animals are immunologically deficient, i.e., the animal has no defense against those specific agents or allergens.
Also in our pets’ diets are chemical preservatives. Two of the most used are BHA and BHT for the preservation of fat. These two compounds can cause liver and kidney damage, yet for years these products were incorporated into baby foods. Many countries have banned their use and importation. BHA and BHT were on the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list because there were no known negative effects to the body of humans and animals. In 1991, these two chemicals were removed from the “GRAS” list, but some pet food companies are still using them in their products.
There are other chemicals such as ethoxiquin, a known carcinogen, sodium nitrate and nitrite, red dye 40, propylene glycol. The list goes on and on. These chemicals can and will destroy vital cells of the body through the process of “oxidation.”
What about contact allergies due to the flea collar your dog or cat wears, the flea shampoo or dip used on your pet, or the sprays you are using in your garden? All of these and more can cause skin allergies in your pets.
Hormone imbalances are also causes of skin allergies. L-thyroxine, one of the thyroid hormones, is extremely essential for skin integrity. When this hormone is in short supply, the animal scratches constantly which causes chronic inflammation. This is most often observed in altered animals. Though I am an advocate of spaying and neutering, the loss of the male/female hormones diminishes the effectiveness of L-thyroxine. The male/female hormones are not in the body for sex and reproduction alone. They have multiple functions. When an animal is de-sexed, the immune system is compromised, i.e., the animal’s resistance is weakened. With this weakened immune system, it is difficult for the animal to resist allergens which can be manifested as skin allergies.
There is a backup system that aids the body in maintaining hormone balance which is the production of male/female hormone by the adrenal gland. When this backup function is in place, most de-sexed animals will go through life with no major hormone deficiency problems. Some will do well for a few years, then display skin disorders when the adrenal gland ceases to produce the male/female hormone. The adrenal gland also produces cortisone, a natural anti-inflammatory agent that assists the body in its fight against allergies. The production of cortisone is diminished in the presence of oxidizing agents. Another all-important hormone produced by the adrenal gland is adrenalin. This hormone is, perhaps, the major component against the devastation of an allergy attack. This is the substance that is given to individuals with asthma attacks. In the presence of oxidizing agents, adrenalin production is diminished.
With the foregoing premise, my approach is threefold:
Restore the immune function to an optimum level through natural immunotherapy.
Prevent the oxidation of vital cells of the body, including skin.
Improve adrenal function.
At the present time, my concept is showing great promise in that I have been able to eliminate the use of steroids, antihistamines, tranquilizers, and hormones. This is not a “quick fix” cure or treatment. It will require time for the body to accomplish this goal, a minimum of six weeks.
The most common cause of skin allergies is the bite of the common flea. Though this program will not eliminate this pesky parasite, it will (to some extent) minimize the allergic effects of the flea bite. If it has been determined that fleas are the cause of your pet’s allergy, it is imperative this parasite be eliminated. This can only be accomplished by treating the environment as well as the animal. You should consult your veterinarian for an effective regimen.
This program must begin with a comprehensive blood analysis. This is essential to determine if there are endocrine dysfunctions. Should the liver or kidneys, as an example, be deficient in their functions, this can be manifested as skin disorders. It is, therefore, important to differentiate skin disorders due to allergies from those due to endocrine dysfunction.
Good Diets & Harmful Chemicals:
- Feed only food free of chemical preservatives such as lamb and rice diets are recommended. Feed only foods free of chemical preservatives. Dry Foods: Innova, Matrix, or California Natural, all manufactured by Natura Pet Products. Wet Food: Nature’s Recipe (canned), at most pet and food stores.
- Flea shampoos, flea dips, flea collars, and flea sprays containing insecticides must be eliminated during treatment.
- Do not supplement your pet’s diet with ascorbic acid as a source of vitamin C. This is an acid and can cause allergic skin reaction.
What Nutrients to Use:
Mega C Plus
Mega C Plus is the original vitamin C preparation for dog skin allergies and cat skin problems, plus it contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals essential to optimize immune function. This vitamin/mineral formula is in crystalline form, is easily mixed in wet foods, and is very palatable.
Vital Tabs is a combination of three very important antioxidants: Vitamins E and A, and Selenium, in proportions which will aid in preventing oxidation of adrenal gland cells and regeneration of new ones. This increases the production of essential hormones.
This protocol is featured in Dr. Belfield’s chapter in a new textbook, Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine and Practice, published by Mosby. It will be available this fall.
It is preferred that this protocol be administered by a veterinarian since there can be some biochemical occurrences in the treated animal that will require professional attention. Since this is relatively a new nutritional protocol, many veterinarian practitioners may not desire to be involved. In this case, Dr. Belfield can assist you through a telephone consultation. You may phone his veterinarian practice for particulars Monday through Friday at (408) 227-8844 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Pacific time.