Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

It's that time of year again where everyone is walking around with tissues in their hands and pockets, eyes red and puffy, and in a Benadryl coma. ALLERGY SEASON. Humans are not the only ones to suffer. Dogs can too. Dog's exhibit seasonal allergies a little bit different than humans. Their symptoms are generally skin issues: allergic dermatitis.
  • Your dog will be ITCHY. Fido will be scratching excessively, biting and chewing on spots of the body and rubbing against surfaces. 
  • You may also notice that your dog's ears are chronically infected with rashes, yeast and bacteria. This will cause your dog to be constantly scratching the ears, head shaking and there will be hair loss around or on the ear. 
  • Hot spots: These are localized areas of the skin that become red, scabby and infected. 
  • Generalized redness: Puffy eyes, red oral tissue, red chin, red paws...
  • Allergies are an immune system response. Canine's with an already weak immune system may develop respiratory issues like sinusitis, bronchitis, ect...
 There are two types of allergies: food and environment. Food allergies tend to be a constant chronic condition until the diet is altered and the allergenic food is eliminated. Seasonal allergies are...well... seasonal. UNLESS you live in a climate that doesn't experience a hard freeze. Then, they can become a year-long issue. Dog's can also become extremely sensitized to the environmental culprit. What may have been a once a year issue, can gradually get worse each year until it is a year long problem. If you think your dog is suffering from seasonal allergies, it's best to visit your veterinarian and take measures to alleviate the symptoms:

Benadryl can be given to a dog to temporarily relieve allergies. I would consult your veterinarian about giving your dog benadryl and your dog's correct dosage. Like humans, it will make your dog drowsy and it's probably not best to give your dog on a consistent basis.

Itchy Skin Remedies:
  • Brush your dog everyday! When skin is itchy, inflammatory blood cells and chemical compounds such as histamine and prostaglandins accumulate in the affected area. Brushing your dog not only will feel good on those itchy areas, but also help clear out all the build up...kind of like raking the leaves out of your yard. 
  • Spray a 50/50 solution of Apple Cider Vinegar and Water onto the affected areas of your dogs skin. 
  • Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint Essential Oils mixed together in a shampoo or as a balm. These three oils mixed together have been praised for providing strong anti-histamine benefits. Peppermint is anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory, Lavender has antiseptic properties that can help keep rashes and hot spots from getting infected and Lemon also has antiseptic properties as well as being anti-inflammatory.  
  • Chamomile Tea can be chilled and sprayed onto itchy areas in order to skill yeast and bacteria as well as soothe the skin.
  • A spoonful of plain yogurt in your dog's diet will help balance the intestines and keep yeast infections at bay.
  • Break a Vitamin E capsule and rub the oil into irritating hot spots.
  • Feed your dog Coconut Oil or apply to skin. Coconut oil has so many benefits! I cannot list them all today, but you can read about them in this other post I wrote---> Right here 
  • Magnesium cream to alleviate hot spots or to dehydrate boils and abscesses. But, it should not be applied to an open wound. Instead, you would want to rub the cream around the wound. Giving your dog a "paw bath" of warm water and Epson Salt, which contains magnesium, after a long day of exercise to alleviate itchy paws and help stimulate blood flow to the skin. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Stinging Nettle for Canines

I am really excited for this upcoming spring because I will be growing a weed in my garden! Not just any weed, but Stinging Nettles to be exact. I have been doing some extensive research on this plant and I think it will be beneficial not only to my dog, but also to my family and myself. Stinging nettle is famous in the herbal world as a natural anti-histamine as well as an anti-inflammatory. This means, it can not only help the seasonal allergies that run rampant in my family (two-legged and four-legged members), but it will also help my arthritis. But, that is not all.... Stinging Nettle is also considered to be one of those "super foods". It contains:

That is a lot of stuff.

For harvesting Stinging Nettle, it is recommended that you wear gloves, long pants and cut them with scissors, because of the stinging part (which is on the underside of the leaves). BUT, some people purposely sting themselves to help with joint pain. There are two phases of harvesting that should be noted:

Eating Fresh Nettle: You must harvest when the plants are still young. If you wait until they have matured and flowered, it's too late for fresh eating --> Mature plants contain cystoliths that can irritate the kidneys. To get rid of the "sting" in order to eat them fresh, you must steam, saute, freeze, can (like spinach) or boil them. You can use the left-over water from boiling and steaming as a tea to drink or as a rinse for your dog's fur. This rinse is very beneficial for alleviating itchy skin caused by rashes, flea bites, ect...

OK, I have a bunch of mature, flowery Nettles. Now what do I do? You can dry them! The process of drying the plant destroys the cystoliths. Now it will not wreak havoc on your kidneys. Gather up your nettles and dry them by tying a string around the bottom of a bunch and hang them upside down to dry. Once dry, you can use the dried leaves as tea by seeping 1 TBSP/ cup of boiled water. Again, this can be drank or used as a skin rinse. You can also add 1/2 tsp per lb of dog weight to your furry friend's food.

A word of caution: Stinging Nettles is haemostatic. This means it stops bleeding. If your dog (or human) has blood thinning or thickening problems, it's best to talk to your veterinarian (or doctor) before eating Stinging Nettles. In addition, do not feed your dog (or human) stinging nettles if suffering from a bacterial infection, being treated for diabetes, high-blood pressure or on NSAIDS.

For more information on Stinging Nettles, please visit these websites: