Home Remedies For Pet Allergies

by James Scott Bankston

Fleas and Parasites

Dogs and fleas go together like love and marriage, or so some people think. But in truth fleas make a dog’s life hellish. If you’ve ever been bitten by fleas—and if you have a dog you almost certainly have been—you no doubt found it irritating and unpleasant. Now imagine having that happen to you thousands of times a day all over your body. Then consider that flea saliva will cause a dog to break out in an allergic reaction.

In their book, Eco Dog, Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich offer the following flea repellent recipe: Add 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary to 1 pint of boiling water, let it steep for 10 minutes, take out the rosemary, let the water cool, then pour this over your dog after he’s been bathed and rinsed.

Ridding your dog’s environment of fleas requires total warfare. Marshall and Deskevich suggest that you get your carpets steam-cleaned on a regular basis. Buy the best vacuum cleaner you can afford, ideally one with a HEPA filter, and run it weekly over the carpets, bedding, anything upholstered, and in every place fleas or flea eggs could hide. Think of it like this—If there’s any crevice in the house where sand could get into, fleas, flea dirt, eggs, larvae and pupae could get there as well. After each use empty the vacuum’s bag into a plastic trash bag and seal it tightly.

Every week wash and dry any bedding with which the dog comes into contact. Keep your lawn well-mowed and regularly spread black plastic sheeting over your dog’s favorite outdoor spots, as both of these action will fatally expose flea larvae to heat.

Food Allergies

Detecting and fighting food allergies requires a subtlety that dealing with fleas and other external parasites does not. Usually a vet visit is needed to spot a food allergy. Often a dog will be put on an “elimination diet,” whereby each component of his regular diet is observed, then removed. If the allergy disappears with the removal of a given component, then it should follow that the component was the cause of the food allergy and a new diet will be prepared to take this fact into consideration.

Though commercially-produced dog foods are very convenient for humans and a cash bonanza for the companies that make them, they are not especially nutritious and can even harm or even kill your dog. Think of cheap dog food as the equivalent of human junk food—it may fill the dog up, but it’s unhealthy to consume.

According to Marshall and Deskevich you should avoid foods with grains of any kind. Corn is indigestible and other grains aren’t much better. The pesticides and fertilizers used in the cultivation of the grain gets absorbed by that grain. Mites tend to nibble on grain. They can lay eggs in grain products or give off toxic secretions that infect the food. All this garbage gets consumed by your dog and he has an allergic reaction.

Meat-based dog foods are no better. They can include toxic and possibly carcinogenic supplements, meat by-products, which amount to whatever’s left of an animal after the edible parts have been removed and “texture enhancers” which can include edible plastics.

Obviously the only other option is to make your dog’s food yourself. And while that may seem a hassle you have to weigh that against the high vet bills and shortened lifespan that can result if you feed your dog toxic junk. The solution, however, is not to just feed your dog the same stuff you eat. A mixture of raw and cooked foods is bad for a dog’s digestion—offer one or the other at any given meal.

Jill Elliot and Kim Bloomer suggest either the BARF (Biologically Approved Raw Food) or SARF (Species Appropriate Raw Food) diets. The former is heavy on red meat and fresh beef bones, along with eggs, vegetables, organic yogurt and nuts, while the latter features only the meat and bones. But before switching your dog to a natural diet, read up on the sort of dietary supplements your dog needs.