What Causes Pet Allergies?

by Angela Ardolino

Allergies are one of the top reasons for vet visits every year, and trying to get to the bottom of pet allergies can seem like a nightmare as a pet parent ... but there is hope! There are natural, holistic alternatives for managing your pet's inflammation and allergy symptoms. 

Pet Allergy Symptoms

Between my grooming salons, and my rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, we see our fair share of furry friends who suffer from pet allergies. Some of the common symptoms we see are:

  • Yeast infections
  • Swollen paw pads
  • Rashes
  • Runny noses and eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Hot spots
  • Missing hair
  • Sneezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflamed anal glands

If your dog or cat suffers from any of these symptoms, we feel for you both. That's why I've personally put time into researching symptoms and triggers, and speaking with several holistic and integrative veterinarians about pet allergies.

What Causes Pet Allergies?

There are a number of possible causes of pet allergies, our pets come into daily contact with a huge amount of substances that can act as allergens, triggering their allergy symptoms. Some allergens are environmental, including insects, plants, animals, but also chemicals in their environment as well. Some examples of common allergens include pollens, mold spores, dust mites, insect proteins such as flea saliva, and medications. However, most animal allergy symptoms are in response to something that's commonly overlooked, their diet. 

Diet & Pet Allergies 

Although there can be many factors to pet allergies, the most common trigger for allergy symptoms is diet. Even if your pet seems to be suffering from seasonal allergies, you need to look at what they're eating first. After all, nutrition is the foundation of health for all of us.

That's why I want to share with you how diet triggers allergy symptoms and how you can find the right diet for your pet.

Many pet parents don't realize that allergy symptoms are a sign of disease in the body. We often think of a disease as being something more specific like cancer or thyroid disease. But disease means, "dis- ease" or dysfunction within the body.

So when you see your pet is itching and scratching or losing their hair, you can see the body is not functioning well. When your pet becomes itchy or has red and inflamed skin, these are the symptoms the body shows us. It's how the body sends out a cry for help that it feels under attack.

If you feed a diet that's not suitable for your pet, it causes an imbalance in their gut microbiome. And this is really important because their microbiome is the foundation of their immune health.

Now you may be thinking, "What's gut health have to do with my pet's skin?"

And the short answer is EVERYTHING.

In fact, 80% of your pet's immune system comes from their gut health. So, when your pet's gut becomes unwell it weakens natural defense systems.

This is often the time we'll hear pet parents day, " But he used to eat chicken without any issues", and I'm sure that they did, but now the body is saying NO.

An unhealthy gut is also inflamed and can let nutrients, proteins, and other substances leak out of the digestive tract. This is a condition known as "Leaky Gut" and it leaves your pet vulnerable to things you may least expect like:

  • Different foods
  • Air pollutants
  • Pollens
  • Fabrics and carpets
  • Insects and parasites
  • Bacteria and viruses

This is why you need to be sure you're feeding your pet the best diet for optimal gut health and immunity.

Unfortunately, if you're feeding a kibble diet, the ingredients may the root cause of your pet's allergies.

The ingredients and starch used in kibble are the number one contributors to pets allergies, inflammation, and poor gut health.  This is just a few of the allergens hiding in a kibble diet-

So what should you feed your pet instead? We always recommend a biologically appropriate, fresh, whole food, raw diet or freeze-dried raw diet
When you feed a fresh raw or freeze-dried diet, that's free of common allergens, the body will start to heal itself. The healing begins when the allergens are removed. This allows the gut inflammation cycle to be broken and nutrients to be absorbed again.

Pet Shampoos & Pet Allergies 

Grooming, bathing and brushing are all integral to your dog's health, but not all shampoos, conditioners and grooming products are safe for your pet. Many pet grooming products, including dog shampoos and conditioners, include sulfates and parabens which can lead to skin irritation, hair loss, and more serious health complications. 

To avoid pet allergy symptoms caused by your pet's shampoo or other bathing and grooming products, stick with natural pet shampoos and natural pet grooming products

Flea, Tick & Heartworm Prevention & Pet Allergies

We all want to keep our pets safe from fleas, ticks and other parasites. And every year, conventional veterinarians recommend some products to protect our pets from fleas, ticks, and heart worm.

Unfortunately, a lot of flea and tick meds and repellents for dogs contain toxic ingredients, including pesticides, and can cause health issues, major inflammation and allergic reactions in our pets.

Here's a few of the pesticides and chemicals, commonly found in flea & tick products for pets. 

Pesticides and Toxins in Flea Tick and Heartworm Meds for Pets

Fluralaner, (INN) is a systemic insecticide and acaricide that is administered orally. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it under the trade name Bravecto for flea treatment in dogs in May 2014.

Pyrethroids, are chemical simulations of pyrethrins, naturally occurring compounds in dried chrysanthemum flowers that incapacitate insect nervous systems. problems included burning and tingling skin, respiratory trouble, involuntary twitching, dizziness, nausea, fainting, convulsions and seizures. In Australia, a union representing transport workers is even mulling a class action lawsuit on behalf of air stewards who allege they suffer neurodegenerative diseases as a result of exposure to the insecticides.

Ivermectin is the macrocyclic lactones (MLs) are parasiticides able to kill a wide variety of arthropods and nematodes. They have a high margin of safety for labeled indications, and has become the best selling antiparasitic in the world.  Dogs of certain breeds and mixtures of those breeds have a defect in the ABCB1 gene (formerly MDR1 gene) that results in a lack of functional P-glycoprotein (P-gp), which leads to accumulation of the MLs in the central nervous system (CNS) and a higher risk of adverse effects when exposed.

N-Octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide MGK-264 Docket. MGK-264 is a pesticide active ingredient that acts as a synergist. Synergists are chemicals which, while lacking pesticidal properties of their own, enhance the pesticidal properties of other active ingredients including pyrethrins and pyrethroids.

PIPERONYL BUTOXIDE a highly toxic substance that causes a range of short- and long-term effects, including cancer and adverse impacts on liver function and the nervous system, is one of the most commonly used synergists in pesticide products.

The good news is, there are natural solutions for fleas, ticks and heartworm prevention that will protect our dog from everything flea season throws at us without harming our pet's immune system and gut!

Pharmaceuticals & Pet Allergies

It's not breaking news that a lot of the medications prescribed to our pets are suppressing their immune system. In fact, a lot of the vet prescribed medications are the source of our pet's allergies!

Get this - what are the common side effects of the most commonly prescribed medication for your pet's allergies? Allergy symptoms!

What is this medication you ask? APOQUEL!

Apoqel is a very popular medication prescribed to our pets when they're showing allergy symptoms. Even though the medication can help the itching for a short period of time, the side effects are hurting your pet's immune system to cause further damage, and you guessed it - more allergy symptoms!

That's why we always recommend natural remedies and supplements for pet allergies, solutions that will address the cause of your pet's discomfort, not just products that will mask the symptoms as your pet gets worse. 

Household Toxins & Pet Allergies

Have you taken a look at the ingredients on your common household products? It's possible, even likely, that the laundry detergent, general cleaning products, carpet cleaners, candles, and air fresheners you use in your home could be causing your pet's allergies. All of these products contribute to the poor air quality in your home by releasing synthetic chemicals and toxins into the air.

Similarly, when we're taking care of our yard, spraying the grass, and putting down the fertilizer, we don't realize what ingredients we're putting right in front of our pets. All of these products can contain numerous ingredients and chemicals that affect our pets negatively.  Imagine your pets paws picking up these chemicals and bringing them into your home, and when they lick their paws they are ingesting these synthetic chemicals.

The good news is, there are many companies that use only natural ingredients in their household and yard care products, allowing you to keep your house and yard clean and cared for, while still protecting your pet from harmful ingredients.

Find products that use only natural ingredients and live the chemical-free life for yourself and your pet.



About Angela Ardolino

Angela Ardolino Author Photo with Odie the Schnauzer

Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years. She operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. In addition, she owns Beautify the Beast,  a natural pet salon and shop. Moreover, Angela got her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine. Next, she founded Hemp Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. 

Accordingly, she uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day since 2016. Angela has five dogs. Odie a 15-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina a 9-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 9-year-old mutt, Maza a 9-year-old mutt, and Rhemi a 9-year-old poodle. In addition, she has 4-10 more any time she is fostering or boarding. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians and the Veterinary Cannabis Association. In fact, Angela has educated hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians on the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals.