The number of pets suffering from skin allergies has increased dramatically in recent years with it currently being estimated that 1 in 7 pets suffers from some type of allergy. It has even come to the point that allergies are considered the most common reason owners take their pet to a vet!
Nothing is worse than to see your pet suffer from skin allergies. You want to make sure you help in the best way possible, but it is not always easy to know how to help them with their scratching and itching, sometimes until the point of bleeding.
The problem with skin allergies is that it is often very difficult to understand what the underlying cause of the problem is and unfortunately even when we do know what the cause is (like grass allergies or stress), it is hard to keep your pet away from that allergen. What we do know, is that an allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system, and that keeping your pet’s immune system in the best possible shape will almost certainly help manage their symptoms. Below are the 5 most important things you can do to support your pet’s immune system:
1. Give your pet the right nutrition
Is your pet getting enough protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system? For dogs we generally recommend a diet of about 60% meat as well as with some vegetables, seeds and oils, whereas cats tend to thrive on a diet that is almost entirely meat as they are pretty carnivorous. We recommend feeding raw for both dogs and cats, as it is closest to what they would be eating in nature. On top of that, feeding your pet raw will also automatically avoid a bunch of common allergens such as wheat and other grains, and there won’t be ‘meat derivatives’ either.
2. Supplement if necessary
If you feed your pet raw food from a reputable brand, your pet’s dinner will usually be pretty well balanced to meet their nutrient needs. There are however supplements available that can help reduce itchiness as they further support the immune system. These supplements are usually oil-based, like fish oil or coconut oil.
3. Avoid using harsh chemicals on and around your pet
Even if your pet is not directly allergic to a certain substance, commonly used products that contain harsh chemicals may still be a burden on your pet’s immune system. That is because they can cause inflammation, the body’s natural response when something harmful enters. This then prompts a response from the immune system.
Some products that are considered gentle for humans, are actually not very suitable for pets. Baby shampoo is a great example of this. Pet skin can be a lot more sensitive than our own, as we don’t have an extra layer of hair to protect us, and our skin has a different pH value as well. So baby shampoo is not a great option for your pet, and it’s better to avoid using human cosmetics on them altogether.
Here’s a list of swaps to try:
Harsh, chemical shampoos > Use a specialised pet shampoo for pets with sensitive skin. Make sure to avoid common skin irritants like SLS and perfume. Our Cat & Dog Shampoos use only natural foaming agents and are lightly scented by essential oils – no nasties!
Standard laundry detergent > Try a more natural detergent or even washing your pet’s bedding with (apple cider) vinegar – it’s amazing at dealing with smells!
Cleaning products, bleach etc. > There are more and more natural alternatives available, but you can also find DIY recipes to make your own swaps. Added bonus: they are better for the environment too!
Antibacterial/antiseptic creams > Try our Dog or Cat Gel. Instead of aggressively disinfecting any small wounds or scratches on your pet, our Gel keeps the area clean, naturally, whilst nourishing the skin and encouraging healing.
4. Keep your pet at a healthy weight
Obesity is associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation – which is only one of the possible negative effects it can have on your pet’s health. Keep your pet at a healthy weight by feeding them the right food, in the right quantities, as well as making sure your pet gets enough exercise. If you’re not sure about any of this, you can always consult with a (holistic) vet or even a pet nutritionist.
5. Keep your pet happy and stress-free
As if we needed any more reasons to give our pets all the love and care in the world… Keeping your pet happy and stress free can have a huge impact on their immune health as well as their overall health.
As there are so many different types of stress, it is quite difficult to give advice that applies to all of it. Generally however, training your pet to deal with different situations as well as socialising them makes a huge difference. Exercise is a very powerful tool too, as is providing enough mental stimulation for your pet. Finally, if your pet is a fan of cuddles, nothing can beat spending a bit of quality down time together!
These tips should really help improve the immune- and overall health of your dog, but it may take a while for the effects on their skin to become apparent. Meanwhile, you can use our Dog/Cat Spray and Gel to soothe your pet’s skin and give it the nutrients it needs to become stronger – click to learn more!