in Dogs, Horses, Ponies & Cats
The term ‘allergies’ implies a malfunction of the immune system. The word is derived from Ancient Greek, to mean ‘other function’, so it is one of the few modern disease names that accurately and meaningfully describes the fundamental dysfunction, rather than simply describing signs and symptoms.
In allergies, the immune system responds inappropriately to ‘allergens’, which are materials that ‘trigger’ the reaction. These may be pollens, house dust, gluten, flea saliva, moulds, grass proteins, other foods, garden plants, house plants, food components, household reagents or certain chemicals. Removing or reducing these allergens from the environment or diet of the dog, cat or horse may reduce the symptoms but will not cure the problem. The underlying problem is an immune malfunction, which must be corrected before freedom from allergies can be established.
Any powerful immune challenges that are capable of perverting immune function and balance, such as virus or vaccination, are likely causes of the underlying allergic disorder.
In conventional medicine, it is usual to try to suppress the allergic reaction with anti-inflammatory drugs (such as steroid/cortisone) or with anti-histamines. This is a life-time task and can, in fact, lead to a worsening of the disease in the longer term. Desensitising vaccines may be offered, which are based on the result of specific allergy tests. This expensive technique seems to be aimed to ‘tire', to ‘exhaust’ or to ‘wear out' the immune system into non-reactivity, but only helps in a few cases.
In natural medicine, at the Alternative Vet, we try to rebalance the immune system, such that the allergic reaction ceases to occur. This may require homeopathic constitutional prescribing and/or a remedy based more on specific troublesome symptoms. Homeopathy can also provide an alternative to suppressive treatments for specific allergens. In addition to homeopathy, herbs and acupuncture can play a part in treatment by a holistic vet or homeopathic vet, depending upon what therapies are offered by the practice.
It is wise to try to reduce the environmental challenge in the meantime but, whereas in conventional medicine this is a permanent requirement, in natural medicine, a normal tolerance for the allergen may be re-established.
Diet is an essential component of holistic treatment, in that the immune system will heal much faster and more effectively if given a natural, healthy, unprocessed diet. Furthermore, some allergies occur to chemicals in the diet for which the animal has no need but which may be harmful anyway.
Examples of diseases or conditions (see links below) thought to have an allergic component are: Atopy, COPD, Head shaking, Sweet Itch and Urticaria (or Hives).