Like people, our feline friends can develop allergies. This happens when their immune systems become sensitive to substances present in their surroundings.
Known as allergens, these irritating substances may not bother you or other animals in your home, but as your cat’s body tries to get rid of the offending substances, he might show all kinds of symptoms.
Because there is such a wide variety of allergens, cat allergens are generally divided into 3 main categories: flea allergy, environmental allergies (atopic dermatitis), and food allergy.
Flea allergy and environmental allergies – the ones that cause “hay fever” symptoms in humans – are the most common.
If your cat has allergies, follow these treatments to help them survive allergy season without a scratch, sneeze or sniffle.
Helping a Pet with Seasonal Allergies
Since the allergen loads your environmentally sensitive pet is most susceptible to is much heavier outdoors, two essential steps in managing her condition are regular foot soaks and baths during the warmer months when all those triggers are in bloom.
Dermatologists recommend this common sense approach for human allergy sufferers. If you have hypersensitivities, your doctor will tell you to shower at night and in the morning to remove allergens from the surface of your body. We recommend you do the same for your dog or cat.
1. Frequent baths give complete, immediate relief to an itchy pet and wash away the allergens on the coat and skin. Make sure to use a grain free (oatmeal free) shampoo.
2. Foot soaks are also a great way to reduce the number of allergens your pet tracks into the house and spreads all over her indoor environment.
3. Keep the areas of your home where your pet spends most of her time as allergen-free as possible. Vacuum and clean floors and pet bedding frequently using simple, non-toxic cleaning agents rather than household cleaners containing chemicals.
4. Because allergies are an immune system response, it’s important to keep your pet’s immune function optimal. This means avoiding unnecessary vaccinations and drugs. And we do not recommend you vaccinate your pet during a systemic inflammatory response.
Vaccines stimulate the immune system, which is the last thing your pet with seasonal environmental allergies needs. Talk to your holistic vet about titers to measure your pet’s immunity to core diseases as an alternative to automatically vaccinating.
5. If you haven’t already, move your pet to an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods that create or worsen inflammation are high in carbohydrates. Your allergic pet’s diet should be very low in grain content.
6. Research has shown that ‘leaky gut,’ or dysbiosis, is a root cause of immune system overreactions, so addressing this issue with a holistic vet is an important aspect of reducing allergic reactions over time.
7. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. We call it ‘nature’s Benadryl’ because it does a great job suppressing histamine release from mast cells and basophils.
Histamine is what causes much of the inflammation, redness and irritation characteristic of an allergic response. By turning off histamine production with a quercetin supplement, we can suppress or at least moderate the effects of inflammation.
Quercetin also has some other wonderful properties. It inhibits 5-lipooxygenase, an enzyme that upregulates the inflammatory cascade. Quercetin inhibits the production of leukotrienes, another way the body creates inflammation, thereby decreasing the level of bronchoconstriction. Bronchoconstriction occurs in the lung fields as a symptom of asthma. Quercetin can actually suppress how much constriction occurs.
8. Bromelain and papain are proteolytic enzymes that increase the absorption of quercetin, making it work more effectively. They also suppress histamine production.
One of the reasons we use quercetin, bromelain, and papain together is they also suppress prostaglandin release. Prostaglandins are another pathway by which inflammation can occur.
By suppressing prostaglandins, we can decrease the pain and inflammation associated with irritated mucous membranes and body parts. Using the three substances in combination provides some natural pain and inflammation control.
9. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation throughout the body. Adding them into the diet of all pets, particularly pets struggling with seasonal environmental allergies is very beneficial.
The best sources of omega 3s are krill oil, salmon oil, tuna oil, anchovy oil and other fish body oils.
10. We also recommend coconut oil for allergic pets. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which helps decrease the production of yeast.
Using a fish body oil with coconut oil before inflammation flares up in your pet’s body can help moderate or even suppress the inflammatory response.
To successfully treat feline dermatitis and prevent recurrence, it’s imperative to identify and resolve the underlying causes of your pet’s itchy, irritated, and inflamed skin.
When it comes to healing your cat’s wounded skin, your cat first must be prevented from licking it. She’ll need to be fitted with an Elizabethan collar (E-collar) in most cases to interrupt the itch-lick-scratch cycle. An alternative might be a light, non-stick bandage.
Keeping the wound clean is absolutely essential. It’s highly recommended disinfecting the area with dilute Betadine (povidone iodine) twice a day.