Taking a Holistic Approach to Your Pet’s Seasonal Allergies

Published on: 04/13/16 3:29 PM | Category: allergies, holistic treatment options, wellness

by Jordan Kocen, DVM

Spring brings warmer days, but also seasonal allergies. When the body is exposed to allergens it sees them as invaders and creates an inflammatory response to get rid of them.  In people, this usually occurs in the eyes and respiratory system where mucous is created to trap and flush the invaders.  In dogs and cats, the response shows up in the skin.  I’ve often wondered why this is and have concluded that if dogs got a stuffy nose they would lose their ability to smell and would starve.

So, another organ had to step up to remove the invaders. In dogs and cats this organ is the liver. The liver is a very busy organ; it is a factory producing many products that are transported to tissues all over the body and traps toxins from the digestive system and the blood. Heat is generated in the process of all of this work and is removed from the liver as the blood flows through. Exposure to allergens increases the overall work load and, therefore, the heat generated by the liver. Any excess heat is brought to the surface where it is released to the environment.  In people, this is accomplished by small amounts of sweating. Since dogs and cats don’t sweat, they remove excess heat by panting or letting the heat radiate off of the body. As the heat radiates off the body it creates an itching sensation and encourages growth of bacteria and yeast that already live on the surface of the skin. This results in local skin infections that are itchy themselves and then all of the scratching perpetuates the problem.

Conventional treatment focuses on treating the secondary infections and stopping the scratching by inhibiting the inflammatory response. The problem with this approach is that the body needs the inflammatory response to kill bacteria and destroy old cells. So, excessive or extended use of anti-inflammatory drugs can result in a weaker immune system.

Holistic treatment focuses on improving the body’s ability to process these toxins. Treatment focuses mostly on liver function. Herbal medicines that cool the liver, Yin Tonics in Chinese Medicine terms, and those that Resolve Stagnant Liver Qi, will result in increasing the liver’s ability to remove these foreign objects and be better at doing it in the future.

The end result is the dog or cat scratches less and the secondary infections are less likely to occur. Since this approach improves liver function, the patient is able to deal with allergies better and results in improving the overall capacity for the liver do what it does to help maintain health.