Did you know that up to 40% of dogs suffer from allergies? And this number is increasing year-on-year.
How do you know if your dog is suffering from allergies? Itchiness is the most common indicator of allergies in dogs and an allergic response to a diet related or environmental stressor, but other signs can also include:
- Redness and inflamed skin
- Rash on belly
- Diarrhoea, gas and irritation around their rear ends
- Recurring ear infections
I truly believe that at the guts of the problem (do you see what I did there?) lies the food we feed our dogs and the health of their gut microbiome.
As the father of medicine Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”, this is equally as relevant to us humans as it is to our pets.
Here are 5 foods that are can powerfully nourish gut health and help to reduce allergic symptoms in our pets:
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates
1. BONE BROTH
It's no secret that I absolutely love bone broth as one of the most nourishing foods that has the power to soothe leaky gut. What is leaky gut's role in allergies? Dana Scott from Dogs Naturally Magazine describes leaky gut as, "The lining of the intestines contains millions of tiny holes that allow the passage of digested nutrients to enter the body. Stress, poor diet and bacterial overgrowth can cause more holes to open or to become bigger…this is called leaky gut."
And how can leaky gut contribute to food allergies? Scott goes on to explain "The problem with those big holes is that things can pass through that aren’t meant to, including undigested food matter, toxins and yeast. The body will notice those undigested food particles as foreign invaders and start to attack them. This is how allergies and food sensitivities develop."
Bone broth, and particularly our concentrated bone broth for dogs, is loaded with viscous gelatine to assist with plugging the large holes and aide in restoring the lining of the gut.
2. YOGHURT + KEFIR
I often get asked if dogs can tolerate dairy. The short answer is yes, just don't overdo it. A small amount of natural, non-flavoured Greek yoghurt is a wonderful source of probiotics for your dog.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that contains naturally occuring yeast and probiotic bacteria as well as high amounts of lactase - the enzyme which consumes much of the lactose in the fermentation process. Kefir is most commonly made with cows or goats milk but can also me made with coconut, soy or rice milks.
Yoghurt and Kefir can be easily added to a dog's meal or served as a standalone snack or treat.
3. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most versatile ingredients and should be a pantry staple. Made from fermented apples, yeast and sugar (essential to the fermentation process), Apple Cider Vinegar can be added to bone broth or water (1 part vinegar:3 parts water/broth) to aide digestion and soothe the stomach.
Apple cider vinegar can also be applied topically in the same 1:3 solution in a small spray bottle to soothe skin and shine the coat.
Cats often need encouragement to drink enough fluids. Adding bone broth is a great way to increase fluid intake and help to reduce UTIs.
Calendula has been used for centuries in allergy symptom reduction in both humans and animals. The flowers of the Calendula plant are known to have anti-microbial and anti-fungal skin soothing properties. Excellent as a topical tincture, Calendula can also be served as a tea and has calming properties as well as being a skin savour.
Make a hot calendula tea, then serve cooled for your dog.
Dogs have been known to eat the young (less spikey) plants of the stinging nettle. With its high Quercetin content, nettle, like Calendula is an excellent topical and oral herb that can be used to alleviate allergy symptoms and help to foster a healthy gut microbiome.
You can purchase nettle powder and add to meals or you can make a nettle leaf tea and add to their water bowl or use topically as a spray or rinse.