ALLERGIC TO ANIMALS? 5 WAYS TO BEAT ANIMAL ALLERGENS:
Every person who has lived with a companion animal is well versed in the benefits of having them around. To express the multitude of reasons why animals bring us so much joy would take days on end. Despite all the joy, laughter and love that companion animals bring to our lives, they can often create allergic reactions to their human family members. While some allergies that humans suffer are with them from birth, other people develop them later in life. Whatever the case, there are several easy methods to practice in order to significantly reduce animal allergens in the home.
1) Vacuum/dust often- believe it or not, many people neglect to vacuum and dust as often as they need to with animals in the house. Often, once per week isn’t enough. Especially during spring and summer when many animals are prone to shedding their winter coats, taking extra time to clean up excess hair and fur can make a world of difference! Making an effort to clean more often will reduce the volume of dander and other animal related allergens.
2) Brush animals daily- Another easy way to curb animal allergies is to brush your animal companions daily. This way, lesser hair and fur falls onto the floor. In addition to minimizing shedding, brushing your animal friends will encourage a bond between yourself and them. Often, hair and fur brushing can be a relaxing experience for all. Of course, this is not always the case. However once an animal becomes familiar with the hair brush and technique, brushing will facilitate trust from the animal to you. Of course, to minimize your own allergic reactions to hair and fur, you may want to do your brushing outdoors as often as possible.
3) Feed whole foods instead of nutrient poor foods-As always, proper nutrition plays the most crucial role in how an animal’s body behaves. It is imperative to read ingredients. Do not fall victim to marketing schemes, clever advertising or manipulative tactics of money-hungry pet food companies. Instead of blindly trusting authorities on what to feed our animals it is vital to do our research and discover the healthiest option for our breed and species of animal. Just like for people, when animals are not receiving adequate nutrients such as omegas 3 & 6 among other nourishing nutrients found in whole foods, their hair will fall out. Of course, seasonally, animals shed their coats. However a gaping portion of this can be prevented by feeding our animals WHOLE FOODS AND SPECIES APPROPRIATE diets. By feeding raw food diets or high quality wet foods (not to be confused with veterinarian recommended foods which are frighteningly low in omegas and overall nutrition), we can help animals’ coats and skin to remain nourished. This will assist with far lesser shedding. Other side effects of whole food diets include; longer life, higher quality of life, healthy inner organs, healthy brain function, happy tummies, preventing early stage organ failure, major savings on vet bills as they age and the list goes on.
4) Keep hydrated- Most dog and cat parents are completely unaware of how easily dogs and cats can become dehydrated. For one, most often water alone will not adequately hydrate a companion animal. Humans will constantly argue that “my dog/cat drinks so much water, how can s/he possibly be dehydrated?” Though water can adequately hydrate a human, the same is not necessarily true for an animal. This is particularly true for those animals who consume processed foods. Though the animal is aware that water can quench his thirst, the animal is likely not aware that the water is not being retained in the body. This water will often go right through the body and be outputted in the urine. This means that there is no moisture retention occurring in the body whatsoever. Ideally here, our goal is to have the animal’s body retain some moisture to promote healthy skin and coat, healthy eyeballs ( no red-eye) and in the longer run, urinary bladder and kidney health. On the subject of kibble (dry food) and kidney failure- I always pose the following question to clients- “what would happen to your body if you only consumed dehydrated food every day?” When considered, they often give the correct response: my organs would become dehydrated. Exactly. When a cat or dog eats mostly dry food every day it can be quite taxing on the organs, especially the kidneys. This is because in order for the body’s gastrointestinal system to process the dehydrated food, the GI system must draw moisture from all of the body’s organs. The kidneys take the brunt of this. As you may have guessed, after prolonged periods of time in this state, the kidneys will in fact shut down. And depending on other factors in the animals’ life such as genetics stress, a poor immune system etc, this kidney failure can happen at a very early age. Instead of buying into the “early stage kidney failure prescription diet” garbage, there are several ways to prevent any of this organ failure from happening. a) Add consistent supplementary Omega’s 3 & 6. Akin to the human body, the companion animal body requires a healthy amount of Omega fatty acids to retain moisture in the skin, coat, eyes and other vital organs. Healthy sources of Omega fatty acids for animals include; coconut oil, Wild Salmon oil, other fish oils, flax seed oil with DHA (DHA makes the flax seed into a complete protein. Without the DHA, the flax oil is considered an incomplete protein and will be of lesser value to the animal’s system) among others. It is important that before you add any new supplement to your animal’s dietary regimen, that you consult your holistic veterinarian or other holistic animal care professional. b) Ensure that your animal is consuming whole foods- For those who live with cats, domesticated cats should be living on a mostly wet food diet. This wet food should be of high quality (not high price!), and should be bought at your local cat/dog food store- NOT at a human grocery store. Cats in particular are genetically linked to their desert-dwelling ancestors. These wild cats did not drink water as they lived in the desert. Their digestive systems developed to retain moisture through the meats and blood found in the prey animals they consumed. This is why it is especially important for felines to eat mainly wet food. Their bodies only retain a very limited amount of water. Cats and dogs alike will derive a healthy amount of moisture from wet food. Be sure that this wet food is composed of whole food ingredients such as “deboned chicken or chicken, turkey, salmon, duck, etc.” and NOT “protein source by-product”.
5) Acupuncture-. Acupuncture is a practice of Chinese medicine where tiny needles are placed at various points along the body. The needles open up pathways to restore vital energy to the body. For those with chronic allergies, often a few short tips to the acupuncturist will alleviate allergies. There is a major connection between allergies and the immune system (in people AND animals). When the immune system of an animal or person is compromised, allergens will attack the body. Immune systems become compromised through various means; lack of sleep, poor diet, genetics, lack of exercise, improper body temperature regulation, excessive stress and a variety of other means. In addition to taking immune boosting herbs (see an herb specialist), acupuncture can boost the immune system. Acupuncture regulates the energy channels and correlated organs of the body by clearing out toxins that cause imbalances that weaken immune systems.
There are many more preventative measures we can take to alleviate allergens from the home. We must remember that approaching household allergen elimination from all possible angles will be our best go at success.