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Allergic Pet?

November 10, 2010
rex cat

Allergies in Dogs and Cats

Common Symptoms

  • Runny Eyes and Nose
  • Rubbing face and ears
  • Licking paws
  • Licking belly fur
  • Scratching all over
  • Red, red skin
  • Recurrent bouts of “hot spots”
  • Frequent, inexplicable “sensitive stomach”


Up to half  —half — of American cats and dogs, and probably just as many worldwide in industrialized countries, suffer from atopy.  Atopy is a fancy word for allergies to inhaled allergens.  The standard allergy selection panels check for mites, molds, pollens, grasses, cat dander, human dander, and insects like fleas, usually about 60-80 allergens in a standard geographically regional “allergy test.”

Food Allergy or Sensitivity

Then 10% (by recent estimates) of dogs and cats suffer from food allergies.  There are no statistically accurate laboratory or skin tests for food allergies in pets.  An allergy elimination diet trial must be performed.  VirtuaVet has a comprehensive article explaining how to perform your own allergy elimination diet trial at home.

Allergy Treatment in Dogs and Cats


70% of dogs respond favorably to allergy treatment with custom-made allergy desensitization shots and many respond to cyclosporin modified capsules of immunomodulatory medication, which often continues once a month for years or for life to keep allergies under control.

Remove/Avoid the Allergen

Occasionally, the allergen is removable from the pet’s life.

“I had a patient who came up 5 of 6 allergic to Red Cedar.  I’d never even seen higherthan a 4 of 6 before this little Westie,” said Doc Truli, “Luckily, his dad switched to pine needles, instead of Cedar mulch in the yard, and the symptoms cleared up!”


Many pets respond favorably to immune system strengthening.  Whether a deficiency is corrected, or the nutrition boosts the immune system is a debatable subject.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation of a Quality Fish Oil or (for dogs) Flax Seed Oil with the subcomponent called “EPA” at the proper published dose to boost the immune system and decrease itchiness.  DO NOT supplement your dog without consulting your veterinarian (that’s why I did not publish the dose here; VirtuaVet is not responsible for what you put in your pet’s mouth!)  Some dogs, like Miniature Schnauzers, are prone to potentially deadly pancreatitis and could die from a change in their fat intake!

(Cats lack an enzyme needed to convert flax omega’s into active, useful omega’s.)

Plus, if you home cook for your dog, or already have a skin/coat health/allergy diet, it may already have enhanced Omega 3 Fatty Acids.  Your veterinarian can advise you.

Ask your veterinarian about adding Vitamin E to your pet’s diet for immune system health, skin health, and decreasing itchiness.  Some scientific research says Vitamin E does not help in people, but the research is performed on incomplete, laboratory-made Vitamins.  Research done with fresh, natural Vitamin E proves it’s amazingly helpful qualities.  Plus it helps the body absurd Omega 3’s better!

There is no published dose for Vitamin E in dogs and cats.   Ask your veterinarian to decide on a dose for your pet(s).

Both Omega 3’s and Vitamin E are Fat Soluble vitamins.  This means they are stored in fat in the body and you can overdose and cause serious disease with too much.  More does not equal better with fat soluble nutrients!

Topical Therapy

Shampoos, lotions, oils, grooming, ionizing bath treatments, oatmeal baths, proper timing of baths.  (Some dogs need weekly, some get worse with weekly, ask your vet!)  These all help.  Some contain prescription pharmaceuticals like hydrocortisone, diphenhydramine and pramoxine.  They help.

VirtuaVet Dogs Deeper for the Pet Who Still Suffers Allergies

Sometimes you’ve “done everything.”  Next time on VirtuaVet, read about common mistakes people make when trying to figure out their pet’s allergies.  Then. after that, next week, VirtuaVet explores potentially toxic cosmetics and cleaning agents you may still be using.  Half of them are “green!”


VirtuaVet’s 4-Year-Old Staffordshire Terrier Finally Allergy Free, detailed Article on How to Perform YOur Own Allergy Elimination Diet Trial at Home.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2010 10:38 am

    Thanks for these suggestions — I have not tried either product you mention. I’ll check them out. I recently learned that Halo makes a 2-part tear stain remedy (“Halo Cloud Nine Natural Herbal Eye Wash for Dogs and Cats” using Eyebright and Goldenseal) that I wonder if anyone has tried? I’m very interested in any natural solutions if anyone has something to recommend.

    I use a flea comb to comb out the accumulated matter at the inside corner of the eyes, then follow up with a warm washcloth, daily (my dog actually likes this and is very cooperative). I keep her face and around her eyes trimmed. Our vet here (in Belize) says not to worry about it, but I can’t imagine runny, teary eyes are are comfortable. The heartworm preventative I give is clear liquid ivermectin, 12 mos. a year (we’re in a hot mosquito-y climate). I can’t help but wonder “what else” (allergy-wise) might be going on.

    Thanks for your reply, Doc Truli — I love your site and am learning a lot!

  2. November 11, 2010 12:37 pm

    Further comment: I tried a new toothpaste for my dog last summer, CET. Two months later, her face was stained reddish/brown. I switched back to Dr. Pitcairn’s Vitamin C recipe tooth cleaner and she is slowly turning white again. Moral: some commercial products besides food can cause allergic reactions!

    • November 11, 2010 11:39 pm

      Dear Carolyn,
      Absolutely. No flavored medications, toothpastes, or even flavored heartworm preventative. There are non-ingestible heartworm preventatives your veterinarian can prescribe.
      Strange, but true story- I had a food allergic dog patient on the prescription kangaroo and potato food and he was still symptomatic. Solution? Put the cat on a kangaroo diet, too. Why? Not because the dog was stealing the cat food! Because the dog was eating the cat poo and still having a food allergy reaction. Problem solved!

  3. November 11, 2010 12:30 pm

    Thank you. I look forward to more on this topic. My small white dog had terrible red/brown staining at all her body openings when we adopted her 9 yrs. ago. Eventually I discontinued all kibble about 6 yrs. ago and home-cook for her. She cleared up amazingly well. Just has tear stains now and I can’t seem to get those to clear up. I use all fresh food for her, bath her with castile soap, and clean the house only with baking soda, vinegar and castile soap. I no longer used commercial cosmetics or lotions for myself. Our floor is vinyl but the windows are always open for circulation (we live in a warm climate) so I’m at a loss as to what to do to solve the runny tear-stained eyes.

    • November 11, 2010 11:44 pm

      She may have inadequate or blocked tear ducts that can be massaged at the corners of her lids in order to open them up. Or she could be sedated and have a tear duct cannula inserted to assess the potency. Or she could be normal, and just have unsightly tear stains. It is normal for the tears to turn brown when UV light hits the tears; it is the reaction that causes self-tanning creams to work. A supplement containing low levels of Tetracycline changes the molecular conformation of the tears so they do not turn color. (That is an antibiotic, not natural.) For my little Chihuahua, I just cleaned her face daily to prevent build-up and lessen the staining. Did you try Diamond eye or Crystal eye brand fur cleaning lotions. They remove new staining, and you let the old grow out or trim longer fur if you wish.

      Anyone out there who has an all natural solution to dog tear staining? Let us know!

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