Canine well-being: allergies

Happiness is having a scratch for every itch.
(Ogden Nash)
photo credit Isabell Vittrup-Pallier,

Canine well-being is a series of articles sharing the experience I have gathered while living with and caring for dogs. They will address common canine health concerns. I am not a veterinarian. The contents of these articles are intended to inspire looking beyond conventional ideas and practices. Be responsible and do your own research and seek appropriate veterinarian advice (from a holistic vet such as Dr Pearson from Paws to Heal).

Allergies, a wide-spread affliction, a complex topic. An allergy is a damaging immune response by the body to a substance. The substance that causes an allergy is called an allergen. Allergens can be identified through observation, blood test or hair sample test. Sometimes what appears to be an allergy isn’t one at all but rather a chronic inflammation response.

One of my dogs, Enzo, suffered from a severe allergy when I first met him. His entire underside (belly, inside of thighs and forelegs and reaching up his neck) was covered in red welts. He was very itchy and scratched himself bloody. The vet gave corticosteroids tablets, the symptoms cleared up within two days. And returned within a week. Enzo wasn’t my responsibility then, I was just one of the people caring for him. I asked permission to take him to my homeopathic vet. After a thorough intake she gave me a homeopathic remedy as well as an Australian Bushflower Essences mix. She recommended to add turmeric to each of his meals (to counter inflammation) and to clean the effected areas with colloidal silver once a day. At first, nothing seemed to happen. My co-workers were skeptic. At least, it didn’t get worst. After a week I thought I noticed some slight improvement. After another week, the affected area was almost back to looking normal.

Every once in a while, it came back in a mild form and I knew it was time to give the homeopathic remedy again. That went on for about a year. The time between outbreaks longer and each outbreak milder than the previous one. His body was healing. In the meantime, Enzo found his furever home with us. At that time I came across Faith’s Cleanse & Detox, a superb supplement. I added it to Enzo’s diet for 12 months. No more allergy outbreaks. That was 4 years ago.

My homeopathic vet also advised against vaccinating Enzo that year. His annual booster was due. She said his immune system needed all the help it can get and to vaccinate him at this time would burden an already strained immune system.

The vaccine connection

Most viruses (like distemper and parvo) are grown in cells and harvested to make vaccines. Various types of cells are used such as chicken embryos and calf serum. Next step in the process is to isolate the antigen from its host, however, there can be left over proteins and food particles that still make it into the vaccine. Read here to find out how this connects to allergies. Learn about safe alternatives to annual vaccinations in this article of mine.

Skin care

Even though Enzo’s allergies have cleared up, I continue to be careful what products I expose him to such as shampoos for example. I’ve tried plenty and most of them didn’t keep their promise … at least not in Enzo’s case. The one brand I found equally effective and gentle is Dermagic. It’s an American company but sells also in Australia and New Zealand.

Allergy diets

When vets suspect or diagnose an allergy they often recommend single protein allergy foods, they might even have their preferred brand at their clinic and conveniently sell it to you. A friend of mine whose bulldog had severe allergies was handed a can of allergy food at her vet clinic. When she asked what was in it the vet didn’t know. My friend read the ingredients list and decided against feeding this to her dog. She had done her homework.

After reading this article you might decide to choose making homemade food for your dog. Here’s one way to do it – meat and vegan versions – from a knowledgeable and trusted source. If you research a bit what superfoods to add to supplement it often is kinder on your budget than buying premixed supplements.

Science and mindfulness complement each other in helping people to eat well and maintain their health and well-being. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

I don’t have a standardized supplement mix, I change it up between batches of food I make for my dogs. I am continuously learning about the many possible ways to supplement and then I choose intuitively which ones to go with for the time being. Which brings me to the last point I would like to address in this article.

photo credit Ron Fung on

How to know what’s best

Seeing our dog upset and in discomfort can be difficult. Spending $$$ on medication and special food can become stressful. Trying many things and nothing seems to work is frustrating. Our own distress can further heighten our dog’s unwellness. It is important to care for our mental health. Our brain works best and most creatively when peaceful. If we feel worried, scared, overwhelmed, helpless, etc that creates a lot of mental noise. This inner mayhem drowns out that which knows what’s next, what’s best. Our intuition.

When something is wrong (such as your dog having allergies) we want to fix it. Substituting doing for taking a quiet moment to consult your inner compass usually doesn’t bring the desired result (your dog’s well-being restored). If you can take care of your state of mind you will not only make more productive choices and decisions about what course of action to take but you’ll also contribute to your dog’s better mental health. Calmness is contagious.

There is a way to help your dog be more peaceful with their itchiness and other allergy symptoms. It’s called The Trust Technique. The Trust Technique is a mindfulness practice that deepens the bond with your dog and creates mutual understanding. This 90-minute mini-course called Messages of Trust is a great introduction to this amazing method. I am a certified practitioner and am happy to teach you and your dog how to do it. Combining an allergy treatment plan with The Trust Technique will augment the healing process. You’ll both feel more peaceful, every step of the way.

Never be in a hurry;
Do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.

Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever.
Even if your whole world seems upset.
(Saint Francis de Sales)

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