Myths About Dog Allergies
Welcome to the club. According to many recent polls, “dog allergies” is the number one ailment diagnosis heard from veterinarians these days. Yet, if you look deep into the research, true "dog allergies" situations are actually not very common. So why is your dog itching and scratching all over?
For these next few moments, just consider this: Maybe the real problem isn’t actually allergies at all, but actually another issue – which is actually ‘resolvable’ AND is so very easily caused in dogs that are usually over-vaccinated these days.
This may seem like a big leap to you, but please read to the end.
Let’s discuss 5 major myths I think every dog owner should know about dog allergies.
Myth #1: My dog is allergic to about everythingThis just happened to a friend of mine: a quick trip to the vet because of a few itchy hot spots turns very serious. The vet has the doggy dermatologist run a few tests and says, "He's allergic to just about everything. That explains it."
No, it actually doesn’t.
Think about it. How likely is it that a dog would be allergic to grass, trees, meat, fish AND you? Aren’t dogs made to live in the grass, hunt their own prey and handle any number of weird things in the puddles they drink from? Doesn’t it seem that human dander (another alleged offender in the 'allergy' battle) would be the least of concerns given the far more offensive things that they roll in at the dog park, or around your home?
The truth is, if your dog’s immune system is at all compromised he may "appear" to be allergic to any number of things. It’s called a heightened state of response and will actually cause false positives in allergy tests. It is far more likely that your dog is dealing with an issue within the immune system itself. A weakened immune system is often a result of a GI tract that is out of balance. Improper nutrients in the diet can accelerate the diminishing of friendly, intestinal bacteria and allow an overgrowth of yeast fungus (candida) in his gut. Yeast by-products will always find a way out – mainly through the easiest and most abundantly available route: hair follicles, followed by SKIN. The skin, being the largest organ of the body, will always be involved when the body is cleansing toxins, poisons, and other elements – like yeast by-products or dying cells. Other popular exit routes are ears and paws. In fact, the earliest signs of problems with yeast overtaking the gut will show up at ears, paws, or both.
Is this starting to sound familiar?
Myth #2: Steroids help my dog’s allergy problemAllergies are defined as an overreaction of the immune system. Steroids are used to suppress the immune system, or at least suppress immune function. They do not treat or combat anything that is causing the immune system to act out. Their purpose is only to mask situation by controlling the symptoms of an underlying issue. It should then be no surprise that as soon as the steroids wear off, the itching and scratching problems return. And usually worse, as the immune system has been further weakened by the steroids. (Antibiotics also weaken the immune system by killing off more of the ‘friendly bacteria’ elements, and should only be taken for their intended use – proven bacterial infections.)
It’s worth noting that steroids boast a long list of other side effects so it’s worth a little extra time and effort to take another look at what may be causing the itchy skin. There are numerous home remedies used by thousands of dog owners that can help kick the itchy skin without hurting his immune system.
Myth #3: Dogs need grain-free diets to avoid food allergiesNegative. All grains are not created equal. Grains are seeds of grasses cultured for food. They are all sources of carbohydrates, which provide energy to the body. Grains are very rarely the problematic source of dog food allergies – the rare occasion of these allergies are actually more commonly caused by meat or dairy, not grains. When the meat sources of your dog’s food are not changed regularly, it is possible for a dog to develop a food allergy to it. If you think your dog has an allergy to his food, change the meat protein source (i.e. substitute chicken for lamb) and add an immunity booster to the diet. You should see a complete recovery of the allergy symptoms within two weeks, max. If you don’t see the recovery, it’s time to try the same thing with dairy. This is the good way to decipher if a dog food allergy is actually causing the problem. While it is possible for a dog to have an intolerance to a specific grain or other protein, dog food allergies are not very common. There is a big difference between food allergies and food intolerance. Food allergies surface as itching, scratching, hot spots and secondary skin infections while a food intolerance will generally show up as diarrhea and vomiting. Very different symptoms.
Myth #4: Allergies are the cause of chronic ear infectionsFalse. In fact, and contrary to popular belief, ear infections are rarely a symptom of dog allergies.
This is a good time to re-visit Myth #1. As mentioned, a yeast overgrowth is commonly confused for dog allergies because the yeast tries to exit through the ears, paws and hair follicles – causing chaos everywhere.
Chronic ear infections are commonly caused by this internal yeast overgrowth. Bacteria can also cause ear infections but… if your dog is treated with antibiotic ear drops and the infection returns as soon as the drugs stop, you can be sure the issue is yeast.
Myth #5: It’s hopelessOK, you’ve done it all – you’ve got the special shampoo, the hypoallergenic chew toys, and the new cure-all kibble. You’ve cleaned your home of all the human dander you can find, washed your clothes in a mild detergent and wouldn’t dream of going to the dog park on a high pollen day.
It’s an endless effort rewarded by good days...but you still have those bad days all too often.
So. Maybe your dog actually has allergies. If you’ve considered all the possibilities, done all your research and are confident of the diagnoses, I’m sorry to have wasted your time.
But if you’re starting to wonder – if you’ve had it with the hot spots that never really leave, the itchy skin and the constant ear infections – it might be time to consider that he is actually dealing with a systemic yeast infection.
And it’s not the end of the world. In fact – it’s the light at the end of the tunnel.
Unlike allergies, this yeast issue can be corrected with a high-protein, low-starch diet along with immunity boosters, probiotics (not antibiotics) and anti-fungal treatments.
It’s not hopeless. Check out a example stories, like Ginger or Savanna, from the thousands of dog owners who were able to beat the yeast after they were told their dog had allergies...