Hobby Farms Editors
August 25, 2011
Siberian husky dog scratching
Courtesy Hemera/Thinkstock
Airborne allergens and fleas can cause itchy skin in farm dogs, which can be treated holistically.

When allergy season is in full swing, humans aren’t the only ones suffering from the effects of an abundance of pollen in the air. Our canine companions—particularly farm dogs, which spent much of their time outdoors where pollen abounds—can also be plagued by allergens, but they aren’t just limited to what’s in the air. They can suffer from fleas and food allergies, as well.

Before attempting to treat your farm dog’s allergic reactions, visit your veterinarian for a diagnosis. Your vet can verify that your dog is indeed suffering from allergies, treat any secondary bacterial infections that might have occurred as a result of scratching and help you determine the exact cause of its allergic reactions.

For farm-dog owners wanting to minimize the use of conventional medications in their pets, a variety of holistic treatments to farm-dog allergies can help. You can best sort out holistic-treatment options with a holistic veterinarian, though it might be difficult to find one in a rural area. To search for one near you, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association offer a listing of holistic vets around the country.

Airborne Dog Allergens
Unlike humans, dogs do not typically develop respiratory symptoms in response to airborne allergens. Instead, they suffer from skin problems, which include itching, hot spots, hair loss and even skin infections.

When treating your dog’s allergies holistically, your first task is to eliminate the allergen in its environment as much as you can. If your dog is allergic to ragweed, for example, getting rid of the ragweed growing on your property will go a long way to help your dog. If your dog is sleeping in a dusty doghouse or in the barn where hay is stored, you’ll need to change its sleeping arrangements to help it recover.

Once you’ve done as much as you can to reduce your farm dog’s exposure to allergens in its environment, you can work with your holistic vet to explore acupuncture as a way to ease its symptoms. Dietary supplements and topical herbal-therapy treatments can also work, as well as homeopathic treatments and flower essences.

Fleas
Farm dogs are particularly susceptible to fleas when the weather is warm and moist and the pests are most active. Fleas can cause enormous discomfort in farm dogs with sensitivity to flea bites. Flea saliva can cause skin problems that present symptoms similar to those caused by airborne allergens.

If fleas are the culprit of your dog’s allergies, getting rid of these pests is most important. A variety of natural shampoos and coat sprays are available on the market to help keep fleas off your farm dog. Natural indoor and outdoor treatments, like borate or diatomaceous earth, are also available to stop fleas before they reach your farm dog.

Dog Food Allergies
The same skin issues farm dogs experience with airborne allergens and fleas can also result from sensitivity to foods, like grains and animal proteins. Dogs with these food allergies can also develop vomiting, diarrhea and gas.

Farm dogs suffering from food allergies can be more difficult to treat because you’ll need to conduct a trial-and-error elimination diet with the help of your veterinarian to determine what may be causing your dog’s allergic reaction. Grains, such as wheat and corn, can cause allergies in dogs in many cases. Farm dogs can also develop an allergy to the protein in beef, chicken and fish.

Allergy-sensitive food for dogs can be found in specialty pet-supply stores and usually contain less-common meats, such as venison or duck. Rice or potato will often appear as the carbohydrate source. You can also make a homemade diet for your dog following the advice of your veterinarian.

In addition to switching your dog’s food, you can help ease its irritated digestive system by adding probiotics to its diet. Your holistic veterinarian can also recommend digestive enzymes and herbs to help soothe your farm dog’s tummy.


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