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Allergies

Allergies

Dogs have allergies! This can become a quick and painful reality when you bring a new pup home from your local rescue. A few common types of dog allergies are: food, skin, and environment, which all come with their own challenges. The most common symptoms are: itchiness, diarrhea, vomiting, itchy eyes, incessant licking, red skin, swelling, sneezing, and hives. These allergies can overlap in dogs and become very scary if not treated and monitored.

Food

Dog food allergies are not super common, but they are very painful for your pup. The result of a dog allergy to food could be vomiting, hives, itchiness, diarrhea, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. Marketers have made dogs more allergic to food than they actually are, which has led to the rise of dozens of hypoallergenic diets that many dogs are on. There’s a huge difference between an allergy and a sensitivity, which is what anyone who actually has Celiac disease will tell you. Dogs with food sensitivities can present with similar symptoms to dogs with food allergies, albeit usually much less severe and less often. The best way to manage dog allergies and sensitivities to foods is, unfortunately, to experiment with different combinations of proteins, wheats, and dairy products.

Skin

Dogs with skin allergies, called dermatitis, are the most common type of dog allergy. Three main things cause skin allergies: fleas, foods, environments. Fleas are pretty straightforward: a flea bites your dog, your dog has an allergic reaction. The skin can become itchy, red, or enlarged. Food allergies can also cause sensitive, itchy skin, as mentioned above. Environmental allergies are harder. Just like in humans, dogs can be allergic to just about anything, including most commonly dust, pollen, and mold. These are generally seasonal allergies, and result often in a lot of ear scratching and paw licking. Just like humans, there are medications that your veterinarian can prescribe to mitigate the impact of environmental allergies on your pup during specific seasons.

Acute

Sometimes your dog is just allergic to something very specific. It could be a bee. It could be a specific spider bite. It could be any number of things. Generally, dogs can go into anaphylactic shock if they have a severe reaction to a bite, sting, or other acute allergenic. These, if left untreated, can result in death. But, because anaphylactic episodes are super rare in dogs, most of these acute allergic reactions to bites and stings can be mitigated, if not completely removed, with simple antihistamines that you can find over the counter. In the worst case scenario, especially with a large amount of swelling, you should connect with your veterinarian so that she can prescribe a steroid to combat the reaction until a powerful antihistamine kicks in.

Mental Health

Mental Health

Doggie mental health is a real thing. It might not sound like it from a human’s perspective, but animals, and especially dogs minds are as if not more fragile than ours are. To bring light to canine mental health, Emory University conducted a seminal study on the dog brain, which showed many similarities to the human brain, especially concerning emotions. For any of you who have owned a dog, you immediately understand what that means. Dogs have feelings too!

Doggie Distress

Dog distress can be equally distressing for us! It’s one of the hardest things to deal with because, unlike their companion counterparts, dogs cannot tell us what’s wrong. We have to figure it out. So, the first step in supporting your pup’s mental health is to recognize and understand signs of emotional issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. The first thing to watch out for is simply unusual behavior. Unusual behavior includes: not eating, extra attention seeking, not going outside to go to the bathroom, not being able to rest or sleep, or just having a strange daily routine. Often, the signs are not obvious, but if you care about your dog the way we know you do, you’ll notice. The biggest sign that you can easily recognize is excessive licking.

Enrichment

The easiest way to ensure the best quality mental health for your dog is to enrich the dog’s life. Two ways to do that are through physical and mental exercise. Physical exercise helps bond you and your pup together. Playing games, walking, running, hiking, or any form of cardio exercise, especially outside, enhances your relationship with your pup. Mental exercise is equally stimulating for your dog’s mental health. Mental health exercises can include games, play dates, going to the dog park, or playing with puzzle toys. Dogs get bored just like humans! Providing mental simulation through enrichment is the easiest way to combat any lingering anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues your dog might be facing.

The power of touch

Just like humans, your pup loves a good massage. Touch is another way to combat mental health issues in your dog. Importantly, you have to learn how to properly massage your dog because dog massages aren’t quite the same as human massages. They require massages in different areas of their body, at different speeds, and at different pressures. A fun activity that you can do with your dog is to go to a massage class where you learn how to massage your pup in a classroom setting that you can take home with you forever!


The opposite of touch is also true. While many dogs enjoy being touched by their humans all the time, some dogs just want space. Just like humans, dogs have different personalities, and some of them just prefer to be alone once in a while. Just like you tell your dog to jump off the couch when you want to be alone, if your pup could, she would tell you the same thing. Learning your dog’s touch language is critical in supporting his mental health. Find out what your dog loves and give that to him. Of course, if your dog loves destroying your clothes, maybe avoid that one.

Holistic Health

Essential Oils

Essential oils are the IT thing right now in healthcare. Could they also be healthy for dogs? The easy answer is yes. The complicated answer is most of the time. This article discusses some of the best essential oils to increase your dog’s health along with some risk factors associated with using certain types of essential oils, and especially essential oil delivery methods.

The Healthy Ones

The healthy essential oils for dogs worth discussing here are Yarrow, Cedarwood Atlas, Helichrysum, Lemon, and Lavender. Yarrow helps unblock things. Think of it as a lubricant. For dogs, the best uses are itchy skin, allergies, bites, and as a coagulant (for minor bleeding only, of course). Internally, yarrow is good for ears, kidneys, and arthritis. Go for the deep blue variety to get the best bang for your buck. Cedarwood Atlas helps to calm and strengthen and can also be used as a flea repellent. For kennel cough and sneezing, Cedarwood Atlas also does the trick. Finally, it’s a grounding oil for those shy or nervous pups.


Helichrysum is magical. It can be used as an antidote for pretty much anything. Whether it’s a bite or an irritant, Helichrysum is great to fight broken capillaries, broken bones, and it’s good for digestive system for the always-vomiting dog. Lemon and Lavender, I’m sure you’ve heard of. Lemon is great for clearing confusion and as a natural stimulant and antiseptic. It also increases trust. Lavender is good for the skin as it's the most soothing and gentle of all essential oils. It helps with burns, bites, and scars too.

Safety Issues

Now that we’ve discussed the healthy essential oils, let’s turn our focus to the unhealthy and unsafe varietals. The American Kennel Club and others have warned against the overuse and misuse of essential oils in your pups. They have good points, which we will discuss here. First, just because the oil is natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Oils are chemicals from plants, and like any chemical, they can irritate your dog’s skin. And because they are rapidly absorbed into the system and metabolized through the liver, essential oils can pose a risk for unhealthy, very young, or very old dogs.


Watch out for the poisonous oils, like cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, tea tree, and wintergreen. These are toxic on the skin and ingested. As with anything, it’s very important to consult with your local veterinarian before making any decisions with essential oils. Even though the purpose of the essential oils, one could argue, is to avoid veterinarians, but they are the experts, and it’s incredible important to ensure that you are doing safe things with your dogs at all times.