Although my career path led me to the corporate world, where I spent twenty years, my true passion has always been animals. In the early 90s I began to study, and eventually practice, the art and science of homeopathy.

This new pursuit was life changing, as was being chosen by a precious Siberian Husky, now known as Pearl, to be her new mom. Pearl suffered from allergies, and this led me on a quest for natural ways to address them.

Allergies in dogs manifest in many ways but most often through the skin, causing itching, scratching, paw-licking, hot spots, etc. Many people consider these symptoms to be “caused” by fleas, pollens, grasses, and foods. From a holistic perspective, however, allergies indicate an internal imbalance and therefore should not be treated as a local, isolated condition.

Antibiotics and steroids are commonly used to treat allergies, and although they may sometimes be necessary, they only mask the symptoms and provide temporary relief, at best. Complimentary therapies, such as homeopathy and acupuncture, address the deeper constitutional level and help restore balance to the whole dog. Allergic conditions are still difficult to treat, however, and can take months or even longer to cure.

The most important thing you can do to minimize allergy discomfort and improve the overall health of your companion is to feed a high-quality diet. Raw or home-cooked food is best. If you are using dry or canned food, buy the highest quality you can find and afford and supplement with healthy fresh food. Wheat, corn, soy, and other grains are common allergens for dogs, so it’s best to avoid them. If using a commercially processed kibble, duck or fish and potato are good options.

Dietary supplements can also be helpful. Omega 3 essential fatty acids support the immune system and reduce inflammation and itching. Fish oils, such as those found in wild salmon, anchovies, and sardines, are good sources, as is flaxseed oil. Antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories such as quercetin (a natural anti-histamine) and pycnogenol are other excellent supplements. Vitamins C and E and both western and Chinese herbs can be helpful. Fido-wobenzym is a systemic enzyme which has been known to reduce inflammation and Antronex by Standard Process is a whole-food, glandular supplement that can provide relief.

Excessive vaccinations, environmental and dietary toxins, and emotional stress can trigger or exacerbate allergies. Use natural flea and tick control to avoid exposing your dog to toxic chemicals. Topical treatments like oatmeal baths, aloe vera and calendula gels, and green tea compresses are soothing to the skin.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet in treating your dog’s allergies, but these natural approaches can provide relief while addressing the underlying imbalances in your dog’s health.