What are the common types of allergies and how to manage them naturally with herbal remedies?
Most dogs or cats develop allergies between one to four
years of age. Allergies are quite common in many breeds
and mixed breeds and some allergies are genetically
linked and are passed down from parents to offspring.
Allergy is a reaction to an allergen, a substance capable
of inducing a hypersensitive reaction in humans and
animals. An allergen can be almost any natural or
synthetic substance in the environment such as grass,
pollen, flea, dust or even fabric. Allergens enter your pet’s
body via inhalation, ingestion, injection, parasites or
touch. When humans have allergies, they tend to sneeze,
have watery eyes and a runny nose. Dogs and cats are
more likely to excessively scratch or lick themselves
The common types of allergies
Atopic or Allergic Inhalant Dermatitis – is the most
common skin problems affecting both dogs and cats that occurred when the pets are sensitive to airborne particles including trees, grass, pollens, dust mites and mould spores. These allergens can be inhaled, ingested or sometimes absorbed through the skin. The itching may be most severe on feet, flanks, groin and armpits.
Although pets do exhibit watery eyes and some sneezing,
animals mostly show reactions in their skin. They typically
chew at their paws, scratch at their skin, and in some
cases, develop secondary skin and chronic ear
infections. Dogs may rub their face on the carpet. Ear
flaps may become red and hot. Hot spots may develop
due to irritation from constant chewing or scratching,
which is then followed by infection. Cats usually have
small crusty lesions over part of all of the body, usually
around the neck or over the back.
About 10 to 15% of dogs are allergic to inhaled
substances. Certain breeds appear to be predisposed to
this type of allergy including Beagles, Dalmations,
English Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters,
Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature
Schnauzers, Pugs, Shar Peis, Shih Tzus and terriers.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) – is another common
allergy in pets. Pets with FAD are not because of the flea
itself but rather to proteins in the parasite’s saliva. When
the pet receives his first flea bite, his immune system
responds and is overreacted. Then, when the pet is bitten again, a more severe itching occurs, causing intense
scratching, this not only starts a seemingly never-ending
itch cycle, it also causes hive-like lesions from all of the
bites, making the pet very uncomfortable.
Herbal remedies for allergies
There are holistic alternative way for the relief of
discomforts associated with atopic allergic dermatitis and other allergies. It helps to relieve skin irritations,
inflammation and itchiness manifested by allergic
reactions. It is also suitable to use as a prevention
measure in pets with sensitive skin and to minimize the
occurrence of allergic reactions.
Chamomile flower or also known as Matricaria flower
(Matricaria recutita L.) used in herbal medicine consists
of the fresh or dried flower heads. The flowers contain at
least 0.4%(v/w) of essential oil. The main constituents of
the essential oil are α-bisabolol or bisabolol oxide A and
B. The flowers also contain flavonoid derivatives such as
apigenin and apigenin-7-glucoside and chamazulene
derived from matricin, a non-volatile proazulene.
Chamomile is a well-known, well-tolerated, thoroughly
investigated herb with a relatively wide therapeutic range
in human and animals. Chamomile is very successful as
an oral or topical therapy when used alone or in
combination with other herbs.
Contact Dermatitis – is an allergic reaction to a
substance that touches the skin. Common products that
can cause contact allergies are plastics, fabrics and
topical antibiotics. Typically, animals that suffer from
these have reddened itchy skin covered in small, pusfilled welts. Caustic substances such as certain
chemicals and poison ivy may cause a condition called
irritant contact dermatitis, which should not be confused
with an allergy.
Food Sensitivities – is a general and more fitting term
for what pet owners think as ‘food allergies’. This type of
allergy accounts for only about 10% of allergy problem in
dogs. The umbrella group of ‘food sensitivities’ actually
includes food intolerance (which shows up as flatulence,
vomiting and diarrhoea) and food allergies, a reaction of
your pet’s immune system that manifests themselves with itchy skin. Other symptoms include anal itching, shaking of the head, ear infections, licking paws, rubbing faces and behavioural changes. It is not surprised that this can develop suddenly even if your pet has eaten the same food for a long time. Most often, proteins are the culprits. Milk, eggs, corn, soy, wheat, beef, chicken, pork and preservatives are some examples. Many animals are now developing allergies to lamb as well even though it was used to be very hypo-allergenic. Avoidance of the
triggering foods the allergy is the only specific and
practical treatment of food allergies.
- inhibits production of inflammatory mediators
- dilates smooth muscle to relieve cramping and
- abdominal pain
- is a mild sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
- soothes inflamed intestinal walls
- inhibits skin inflammation
- promotes healing of skin abrasions
Chamomile is a very safe herbal ingredient for both
internal and external use. Pets with allergic reactions
toward plants in the Asteraceae (or Compositae) family
may experience some irritation to Chamomile, but the risk of this being a problem in dogs and cats is very low.
To ensure an effective and successful allergy
management plan, it is important to work with your
veterinarian to develop a plan that works best for your
dog or cat. Many veterinarians are now recognizing the
need for holistic therapy or herbal treatments instead of
the use of corticosteroids which may also affect other
organs in the body and should be considered only as the
last resort to relieve a dog or cat in extreme discomfort
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