With this year’s unseasonably long springtime, seasonal allergies are in full swing for pets and humans. COVID social distancing is making the quest for in-person answers at the veterinarian even tougher. That’s why we wanted to share some tips and tricks for identifying and managing your dog’s allergy symptoms.
Common Dog Allergies: Signs and Types
Before we dive into some tips for managing allergy symptoms in dogs, let’s start at the beginning – what is an allergy?
Simply put, an allergy is when the body reacts with an immune response. An allergen is the object that causes this response.
When an allergen is detected, the body’s defense system kicks into alert mode, and does whatever it can to flush the body and rid it of the allergen. Unfortunately, sometimes alert mode results in an overblown response. Sometimes, this response can be chronic – lasting a week or more – like seasonal allergies. Other times, it is acute – lasting several hours to a day.
Since our dogs can’t tell us what’s wrong, we have to watch out for the signs. Some common allergy symptoms in dogs include:
- Itching or increased scratching
- Red skin or hot spots
- Excessive licking
- Hair loss
- Weepy, red eyes
- Ear infections
- Tummy troubles
Despite these common allergy symptoms being very similar with any allergic response, it is sometimes difficult to isolate the actual cause. Common dog allergens can include:
- Environmental: Dust, Pollution, and more
- Seasonal: Pollen, grass, and more
- Food: Proteins, carbohydrates, and more
Managing Allergy Symptoms and Types in Dogs
We’ve met so many dog parents who wonder the same thing: how can I provide my dog with relief of these pesky allergy symptoms?
One prescription medicine that is commonly recommended by veterinarians is oclaticinib maleate, commonly referred to as Apoquel®. Apoquel® actually changes the activity of the immune system to reduce inflammation and itchiness1. Other steroids (prednisone), antihistamines (like the active ingredient in Benadryl®), and antibiotics (Clavomox®) are also commonly prescribed. Unfortunately, each of these drugs have side effects, including immune suppression, drowsiness, and microbiome imbalance, to name a few.
Avoiding medication for allergy symptoms in dogs until absolutely necessary is a frequent goal we hear from pet parents.
Quercetin for Dogs: A Natural Allergy Remedy
One common dog allergy remedy to consider instead of drugs, like Apoquel® or Benadryl®, is quercetin. It belongs to a class of water-soluble plant pigments, called flavonoids. Flavonoids are also responsible for providing rich color to plants – in fact, quercetin is bright yellow in color! Flavonoids are known to have concentrated antioxidant properties that can also support other health goals, including supporting the body’s natural immune and inflammatory responses.
While quercetin can be found in many plants and foods, like onions, apples, and green tea, we strongly recommend quercetin sourced from the Japanese Pagoda tree (Sophora Japonica L.), where its antioxidant potential has been scientifically documented2. Well known in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has been used as a natural remedy for itch relief for millennia, the flowers of the Japanese pagoda tree are extremely rich in quercetin.
Flowers of the Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora Japonica)
As with all dog supplements, it is critical to provide the appropriate quercetin dosage for dogs based on their weight and symptoms. When considering quercetin for dogs, here are a few tips to ensure you are choosing the best quercetin:
- Verify the purity (laboratory testing documentation should be available, and can demonstrate no heavy metals, and no microbes).
- Verify the plant source of quercetin – we recommend the Sophora Japonica flower for optimized concentration. Some manufacturers incorporate laboratory or synthetic quercetin – we strongly prefer the natural quercetin extract.
- Verify the quality – we strongly recommend human grade quercetin to ensure you are feeding your dog something you’d be comfortable ingesting yourself.
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1: Gadeyne et al, VetDermatol2014; DOI: 10.1111/vde.12166
2: Mihaylova et al, Biology & Technology 2013Vol. 56, n. 3: pp. 431-438.