Not only do too many dogs have allergy issues, there are so many different types of allergies to offending environmental substances, called allergens. Though dogs exhibit allergic reactions in a variety of ways, there are only five types of allergies: contact, flea, food, bacterial, and inhalant. The most common allergen type is inhalant, or atopy (pronounced “at-ta-pee”). And often, these allergies occur during the spring and fall when tree, grass, and weed pollens are most prevalent.
Common Indicators of Allergic Skin Reactions in Dogs
- Itching / Scratching
- Rubbing face and eyes
- Loss of hair
- Open sores / Infections
- Discolored skin
- Toughened skin
- Dry, flaky skin
- Chronic ear infections
The first step is to have your dog checked by your holistic veterinarian to be sure it is an allergic reaction and to see what recommendations he or she may have. The vet will be able to help you sort the possible irritant(s) to which your dog’s body is reacting. The solution may be as simple as introducing or increasing omega fatty acids, vitamins A, E, Zn, and Biotin, a form of B vitamin, into your dog’s diet. These are natural supplements that serve as a first line of defense commonly offered for skin issues. Additionally, if the dog’s skin is damaged, your vet will most likely provide a topical application to address a potential bacterial infection.
If you are able to identify the specific allergen or allergens to which your dog is reacting, doing your best to avoid the allergen(s) is a logical part of the health regime. Examples of common allergens include: household cleaning chemicals, fertilizers, snow melting substances, pollens, soaps, bathing conditioners, bug bites, plants, and specific foods or treats, especially those with preservatives and coloring, etc.
Ancient Medicine Approach to Skin Allergies
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), allergies are seen as a breakdown of the immune system. The thought is, if the dog’s chi, life-promoting force, is not balanced and strong enough, the allergen will invade his or her body. The intention in offering a dog experiencing skin allergies an acupressure session is to help strengthen his immune system.
The acupressure points, also called acupoints, on the chart below can help resolve your dog’s current allergic reaction and serve to prevent future reactions.
Place the soft tip of your thumb on each point while your other hand is resting comfortably on your dog. Count to 30 very slowly before moving to the next acupoint. Repeat these points on the other side of your dog – acupoints are bilateral.
Supporting your dog’s immune system is very important whether or not he has allergies. If you’re trying to resolve an allergic reaction right now, the best thing to do is perform this acupressure session for 3 days followed by a day break, then another 3 days followed by a break day. Keep this up until the allergy has resolved. If you are simply supporting your dog’s immune system, offer this session every 3rd or 4th day. When you get into the habit, it is fun!