Allergies are on the rise, and we see them more this time of year, not just for us but for our pets too. Incidents of dermatitis in our pets is increasing and our first instinct is to assume a food sensitivity. While food sensitivities are certainly becoming more common, we can’t forget about environmental sensitivities. It is important to note that environmental allergens not only affect the exterior of the body (skin, feet, ears) but also the digestive tract. Environmental pollutants and allergens are inhaled and inevitably swallowed; the gastrointestinal lining responds to these allergens just as the exterior skin does. It is possible that an environmental allergy will contribute to, or present as, a digestive sensitivity along with digestive responses.
We can’t control what is in the environment, unfortunately, so we have to do our best to manage the irritation our pets are dealing with this time of year.
Environmental allergens get trapped in our pets’ fur and cause constant irritation. It is important to clean these particulates away by bathing regularly with gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo. In between baths, good daily practice is to wipe the areas on our pets that are most exposed and that they are most likely to lick (licking will result in allergens being ingested). The ground contains the most concentrated irritants; this is where they all end up as they fall from the air. Rinsing or wiping our pets’ feet when they come in from outside can significantly reduce their exposure to these irritants and limited their ingestion. Bare bellies are also at high risk of irritation and should be wiped each day to prevent licking and hot spots.
When animals are dealing with allergies, it is very important to support the immune system, and all essential body functions. When the immune system is active, the body is under physiological stress and nutritional requirements may increase in these instances. Ensuring we are providing quality proteins and fats in sufficient quantities along with bioavailable vitamins and minerals is particularly important for supporting the health of the whole body.