Allergies – Part 1

A Holistic Approach to Dogs with Allergies, Part 1

Dogs can become allergic at any time during their lives.  If you see your dog scratching, rubbing her face on the carpet or floor, biting her legs or back, shaking her head a lot and possibly losing fur, she is begging you to pay attention!

The two most common types of allergies are environmental and flea related.  Even when there is no evidence of fleas, the saliva left behind by fleas can leave your dog in misery!  Food accounts for only 10% of allergies in dogs.

Our immune systems, as well as our pets’ immune systems, exist to respond to attacks by things outside the body that would cause disease inside the body. One common example is bacteria getting inside your body.  Your immune system would attack and attempt to remove the bacteria.  When our pets are allergic, their immune system may also view common things in the environment much as invaders that do not belong.  It attacks these allergens differently than bacteria or a virus.  As a result, your pet generates antibodies and substances which cause the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators.  These substances cause itching, skin lesions, and worse.

Another important point is that when the skin is inflamed from allergies, bacteria and yeast can also cause infections.  Those infections can lead to the terrible smell our pets may have when their allergies flair.

The main difference between a “conventional veterinarian” and a “holistic veterinarian”, is that most conventional vets will treat the symptoms and try to identify an underlying cause of disease.  With conventional medical tools, often the underlying reason for the symptoms cannot be altered.  Therefore, this approach in conventional medicine may involve the use of drugs which suppress symptoms. Holistic vets try and find the cause for your dog’s reactions and change how your pet reacts to these as well as improving the underlying functioning of the body, or in the case of allergies, the immune system.  Holistic vets have a different tool chest or arsenal of experience and non-drug related modalities to use to treat your dog.  Holistic veterinarians are conventional vets who have received specialized schooling in the use of holistic remedies. To find a veterinarian with such training near you go to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association:

Chinese Medicine-Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is used by conventional vets who study to supplement what they know and add additional methods to treat your allergic dog.   They are concerned mostly with balancing Yin and Yang aspects of your pet to optimize health. In the body Yin aspects refer to the physical organs and fluids and the Yang aspects refer to the processes which require energy.  For instance the muscle as an organ is Yin in nature, but the process of muscle moving your arm is Yang. When your dog is showing signs of allergies, the vet will look your dog over from nose to tail, and according to your pet’s examination makes a TCVM diagnosis.  This process considers your pet’s tongue color, pulse, clinical symptoms, as well as looking at the skin, hair coat, pads and includes a complete conventional examination.  They also take a detailed history and listen to your observations.  Your dog will be treated using TCVM’s vast toolbox, which considers the “whole dog”.  Treatment often begins with Acupuncture or Chinese Herbs, but is usually a combination of both. Dr. Todd cautions that you should resist the urge to self-diagnose, or purchase tonics off the Internet as this can be dangerous.  There are hundreds of herbs to choose from, and they must match your dog’s specific ailments. To find a certified TCVM doctor go to:

Dr. Gregg Todd is available for West Coast and Central dog owners and information about him can be found at:  Dr. Constance DiNatalie is available to East Coast and Central dog owners and information about her can be found at:
Thanks to our partner Vet and Holistic Veterinary Expert Dr. Greg Todd, DVM, CVA from Animal Hospital of Dunedin.  Dr. Todd is an award winning vet and a teacher of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  As a GRRMF partner vet, he cares for many GRRMF dogs with great success.

by Janet Sturman with Dr. Gregg Todd, DVM, CVA


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