Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog.

Allergies and Essential Fatty Acids

Allergies and Essential Fatty Acids

By Lew Olson • Winter 1997 Newsletter
Dog and cat allergies are probably one of the biggest reasons for today's pet owner to visit their veterinarian. Allergies can manifest themselves in a variety of symptoms in a dog or cat. Most often in dogs, these symptoms are loss of hair coat, skin eruptions or rashes, foot licking, ear infections, itching and scratching, loss of hair around the eyes, flaky skin, oily skin and hot spots.

These symptoms are usually seen in cats by tearing of the eyes, urinary tract infections and sneezing. While most veterinarians will prescribe drugs to stop the symptoms, they can flare up again once the medication is stopped.

Allergies are caused by the body's over reaction to a substance. It is often a frustrating and difficult task to pinpoint the cause of the original response. It is speculated in research that one-third of all allergic reactions are triggered by food. Other offenders include chemicals in our environment (including lawn pesticides and herbicides), cleaning solutions, shampoos (such as those containing lanolin or flea killing agents), detergents, fabric softeners, preservatives in dog foods and vaccinations.
Lawn chemicals can be absorbed through the dog's feet, and affect them systematically. There are several journal articles relating weed killers to lymphosarcoma in dogs, as well. Remember, your pet breathes the air where these chemicals have been sprayed, and they walk and lay on the lawn. If lawn chemicals must be used, it is important to keep your pet off the area for at least a day, preferably three days.
Cleaning solutions, especially in the dog's living area or kennel, can be big offenders in activating allergies. Many are scented, which can add to the allergic reaction. It is recommended that plain bleach be used, mixed at a proper ratio with water for cleaning runs, kennels and crates.
Many pet shampoos contain irritating and immune-lowering ingredients, including lanolin and flea repellents. These agents can also be absorbed through the skin, and create more of a problem by coating the skin. The best shampoos to use are gentle, herbal-based or an oatmeal-based shampoo. A good home remedy for a dog with constant itchy skin is to put some sliced lemons in a glass gallon jar. Let sit for a day or so, and use the solution as a rinse for your dog. This can often soothe the skin and stop the itch.
Preservatives in dog foods include BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. These are generally used in animal fats used in dog foods, and put in the fat before it reaches the dog food plant. They have also been proven to be cancer causing, as well. Always read the bag's ingredients closely for these particular preservatives, and select foods that use vitamin C and vitamin E for preserving the food. Try to choose dry dog foods that use plant oils (avoid canola and cottonseed) rather than animal fats. Add your own source of animal fat, such as whole milk yogurt, raw chicken, beef with fat and raw meaty bones.
Veterinary researchers and holistic veterinarians are becoming more aware of the affects of vaccinations on our pets (see the Fall Newsletter). Often, dogs react to the suspension used in the vaccine. This can show up as itchy skin, hair loss and reaction to food substances. Some dogs react stronger to vaccines, through hives on the skin, difficulty in breathing, redness of the skin and even in brain swelling and inability to breath. Always monitor your pet for at least two hours after a vaccination. Cancerous growths have also been found at the site of the vaccination, years after the shot was given. It is recommended to vary the site of the vaccination, and do not vaccinate next to the spine, such as between the front shoulders.
The last area of allergic reactions are to food. Alfred Plechner, DVM, in his book, "Pet Allergies: Remedies for an Epidemic," reports the top food allergens for dogs are:
– Beef and Beef Byproducts
– Milk
– Yeast and yeast products
– Corn
– Pork
– Turkey
– Eggs
– Fish
– Wheat
For cats, Dr. Plechner lists:
– Beef and Beef Byproducts
– Tuna
– Milk
– Yeast and yeast products
– Pork
– Turkey
It has been recently discovered that any form of soy, as well as corn gluten meal contribute to allergies. Wendy Volhard, in her book "The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog," suggest the grains that create the most problems seem to be corn, wheat, rice and rye. She reports the least allergic reactions come from oatmeal, buckwheat, millet and quinoa.
In Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn's book, "Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats," he recommends a diet he formulated, and suggests trying it for at least two months to determine if the cause of your pet's allergies are food related. He states that if no improvement is seen, then the cause of the problem may not be an allergy. His diet for dogs is as follows:
Dog Allergy Diet
– 1/2 cup lamb, mutton or chicken
– Six ounces tofu
– 1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice, buckwheat, millet or oats
– 1/4 cup grated or chopped vegetables
– Daily supplements as recommended (use a B vitamin rather than yeast)
Combine the ingredients and serve. Yield: about 3 cups
Cat Allergy Diet
– 1/3 cup lamb, mutton or chicken
– Four ounces of tofu
– 1/4 cup cooked brown rice, buckwheat, millet or oats
– Two tablespoons grated or chopped vegetables
– Daily supplements as recommended (substitute B vitamin for yeast)
Combine the ingredients and serve. Yield: about 1-1/3 cups
Supplements and Nutrients
From the literature on allergies, there seems to be a consensus that certain supplements can help boost the immune system. Some holistic veterinarians and naturopaths believe that the body over reacts and reads common substances incorrectly. If the body can be gradually built up to develop a healthier and stronger immune system, and the dog's environment can become as toxin-free as possible, allergies can be combated. Here are a few of the most effective choices:
Vitamin C with Bioflavanoids in therapeutic doses can act as an antihistamine. It is also felt that the bioflavanoids help in boosting the immune system work well with vitamin C.
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant, and can have anti-inflammatory properties. It is also good to use topically for minor skin irritations.
Biotin, a B vitamin, helps fight allergies, and can be found in eggs or by a pill supplement.
Quercitin-C is another bioflavanoid that helps boost the immune system.
Alfalfa is high in chlorophyll, and help to alkalize the body and detoxify the system. It is also a good source of some enzymes.
The seaweed family, which includes blue green algae, Spirulina, and Sea Kelp are great for their content of selenium (an immune booster), B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc and biotin. They are great for hair growth and condition of the skin.
Yucca has cortisone properties without all the nasty side effects. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, which removes the itch and swelling. Yucca Intensive, a yucca tincture, works fast in the dogs system, and is used at one drop per 10 pounds of the dogs body weight.
The use of enzymes in the food is important. It helps break down and digest the food faster, and pancreatic enzymes help in breaking down the proteins in the diet, which reduces the risk of allergic reactions. Berte’s Zyme is a good blend of enzymes, including the pancreatic enzyme, and is easy to add to the diet.
Herbal Blends, such as Tasha's Skin & Hair Support Formula, is a blend of herbs that is useful during seasonal changes, or right when an outbreak occurs. It contains flower essences to give relief.
Tasha's Immune System Formula contains echinacea, red root and several other herbs that can help boost the immune system, and get a dog back into condition. I have also used it topically on skin irritations.
Essential fatty acids, such as Flax Seed Oil, are necessary for good health of your pets skin and coat, and for immune boosting. Flaxseed oil is best purchased at a good health food store, and can be found in the refrigerated section. Always keep it refrigerated at home. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
External care is just as important for your pet's skin and coat. Good shampoos include Halo Herbal Dip which contains pennyroyal, rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender and horsetail, and Pure Pet Oatmeal Shampoo which is great for hypersensitive skin.
Tea Tree Oil is excellent to use as a rinse after bathing. Mix one half teaspoon to a pint of water, rinse with it, and leave on. It is made from the melaluca tree, and besides being a natural skin softener, it has antibacterial and anti-yeast properties.
The best defense for allergic symptoms and reactions is feeding your dog or cat as many fresh foods as possible. A fresh diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. The food you feed your pet is what will help build the immune system and provide your pet's body with the proper defense against allergies and other immune related problems.
Good books to use for recipes include Dr. Pitcairn's "The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats," and Wendy Volhard's "The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog." Also check my recipe page on this web site.
Essential Fatty Acids-An Answer for Inflammation, Tumors, Low Energy and Depression?
Essential fatty acids are generally found in fish oils and many vegetables and vegetable oils. The body can not make EFAs, and they must be provided through our diet. The Omega-3 fatty acids are proving to be the most beneficial. Since most of our pet foods are made with animal fat, most are woefully lacking in the EFAs. EFAs good properties break down with heat processing and can grow rancid if not properly refrigerated. All rancid fats become free radical carriers, and are suspected of producing cancer in us and our dogs.
Purdue University recently conducted tests showing that a lack of EFAs in the body can often be the cause behind depression. Further studies by the National Institution of Health (specializes in studies of EFAs) shows that children with low levels of EFAs are more likely to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. EFA is also necessary for proper brain growth in infants and children and essential to the proper functioning of the central nervous system. EFAs are also needed for good energy levels, ability to concentrate well, function in mineral absorption and weight gain.
There are several good sources for EFAs.
The first is from fish oils, although not all fish provide enough EFAs. Good sources of fish include: salmon, mackerel, sardines, lake trout and herring. Most dogs enjoy having mackerel or salmon added to their food two or three times a week. Four ounces of salmon can provide 3,600 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon Oil is also an excellent choice for a supplement for fatty acids.
The second source is Flax Seed Oil, fortified flaxseed, primrose oil, black current oil, and Spirulina. Flaxseed Oil also contains potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and zinc. Flaxseed is rich in another EFA, called DHA (docosahexanoil). This EFA has shown to help improve vision, reduce tumors, help alleviate depression and asthma, and has shown some effectiveness in Crohn's disease (chronic inflammation of the intestine). Flaxseed also has been noted to be effective in reducing inflammation in some arthritis, if used consistently for at least three months. A good dose for dogs is one teaspoon for a small dog, half a tablespoon for a medium dog, and a tablespoon for the larger breeds. Another good source for DHA is blue green algaes.
I have found my dogs do well with daily use of Flax Seed Oil, Sea Kelp (contains Spirulina and blue green algaes) and mackerel or salmon at least three times a week. Not only do the EFAs give a healthy coat and skin, but assists with inflammation due to arthritis, gastrointestinal inflammations, shrinking some tumor growths, boosts energy, helps with vision and can lift some depressions.
Avoid oils that have been heat processed, solidified, or allowed to go beyond the shelf life. Most good flax seed oils are found in the refrigerated section of a good health food store. Avoid oils such as soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, coconut and palm oil.
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