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Dog Days of Summer

By Apricot Power
Pet Wellness

Many animals suffer the worst allergies in the summer! From grasses, mold spores, dust mites and flourishing pollens, to the explosion of fleas, summer can be challenging for our fur children. We “blame” these outside factors as if they were the root cause of the allergies, but they are not!

Inflammation is the Underlying Cause of Allergies

Arguably, the most common allergic skin disease in dogs is ATOPIC DERMATITIS. This is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is associated with “allergies”.

Inflammation is not the bad guy here, it is actually a good thing. Inflammation is how the body protects itself from invaders that could cause serious harm. The way it’s supposed to work is the inflammatory response kicks in when an invader gets into the body. The inflammation kills the invader and then turns off, waiting for the next episode where pathogens enter the body. The problem in modern times is that the invaders never stop coming in! Every bite of processed food (kibble or can) creates inflammation because of the high carbohydrate content in processed foods. For those people thinking this does not pertain to them, “I feed grain-free”, you are WRONG! Grain-free is not carbohydrate-free, and the carbohydrates are creating inflammation. Other causes of inflammation include eating genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), hormones, chemicals, pesticides, electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) and stress (producing the stress hormone cortisol). For more information on stress read my article on stress in the April Newsletter on the Apricot Power blog.

Leaky gut is the largest contributor to inflammation

Here is why: The intestine is lined with a cheesecloth like membrane whose job it is to filter the gut contents, allowing the right size molecules to come into the body and all the rest is sent out the poop shoot. When this single cell thick membrane is damaged, the holes become larger and particles that are not supposed to come in, can. This condition is called “leaky gut”.

The particles that cross this gut barrier are carried by the bloodstream to the liver. Nutrients like amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and glucose (the building blocks of carbohydrates) are stored in the liver (like a home depot stores tools you need). The liver has many jobs, including protecting the body from foreign invasion.

When the liver senses invaders, it mounts an attack, and with the help of the immune system, it creates inflammation to kill the invaders. This inflammation starts out as a good thing, protecting the body.

Inflammation becomes a problem when it becomes excessive and out of control. Inflammation will go to the weakest link in the body, and for many furbabies, that will be the ears and the skin.

80% of the body's immune system lives in the large intestine

It makes sense that the more severe the leaky gut, the more the immune system will respond and the worse the “allergy symptoms” will be. The standard of care for ear infections, itchy skin, skin sores, hair loss, and “hot spots” has been for years to give antibiotics and steroids.

Sadly, these treatments do not address the root cause of the problem, the leaky gut. They temporarily suppress the immune system (hence a temporary relief from the symptoms) but ironically create more leaky gut in the long term.

Steroids Cause Leaky Gut!

Treating the symptom will not fix the problem. The underlying root cause must be addressed!

word cloud gut health


Step 1: Stop creating a leaky gut. Change the lifestyle and behaviors that cause the problem.

Step 2: Heal the leaky gut so the permeability membrane integrity is restored.

How to Reduce Inflammation:

  1. Feed a species an appropriate balanced organic raw diet.
  2. Add supplements that provide all the essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids the body needs to do its job.
  3. Supplement with B17. Wild herbivores ate a variety of natural plants rich in B17. When carnivores ate these animals they got B17 in their diet.
  4. Provide a natural source of pre and probiotics. Fermented vegetables or homemade kefir are options that can be done at home. The next best option is a reputable probiotic supplement.
  5. Supplementing with digestive enzymes (both plant-based and pancreatic) is helpful for animals that have been fed processed foods their whole life.

Chronically affected animals may need more support. Seek a qualified integrated veterinarian for more suggestions.

Dr. Siegel is the owner of Pasco Veterinary Medical Center in Lutz Fla. See more articles by Dr. Marlene Siegel on our blog!

Marlene Siegel

Dr. Marlene Siegel