As spring approaches, some pet parents will grow increasingly anxious about their pet’s comfort level. Dogs and cats can experience allergies just as humans can (and yes, it can be equally as miserable). Animals can develop allergies to a variety of allergens, whether from food, inhalants, or contact. Often times, an allergic reaction in animals will manifest as itchy skin, swelling, weepy lesions, panting, irritable bowel, or restlessness.
Allergy Misconception #1:The symptoms of an allergic reaction are directly caused by the allergen.
While an allergen does set off the chain of events that eventually give way to the symptoms of an allergic reaction, it’s actually not the main culprit. Allergic reactions are simply an overreaction (or hypersensitive reaction) of the immune system. Itchy skin, panting, and swelling all result from the animal’s bodily defenses taking up arms against whatever foreign particle has shown up without an invitation. The immune system has overdramatized the situation and the symptoms are a consequence of that overdramatization.
Let’s look at a specific case (scroll through to read the whole story):
1. Steve's Introduction
Steve the dog rolls about in the fresh spring grass (yay for Steve!)
2. The Invasion
Steve’s literal bodyguards—AKA Steve’s immune system—start noticing these foreign particles and begin to freak out
3. Panic Mode
The liver (a contributing member of the immune system) puts out a red alert, letting the rest of the body know that these unknown particles came to destroy all that is good and sacred.
The body’s defense functions overreact, and the liver pumps extra heat toward the offending areas (the surface of the body in this case)
5. Poor, Itchy Steve
Inflammation occurs at the skin’s surface, resulting in itching, redness, weepy lesions, etc.
6. An Overdramatized Finale
The grass particles continue to mind their own business while the body continues to freak out
To sum up:
Essentially the allergic animal’s body sees certain things—be it food, inhalants, or daily contacts—as threatening (when really, they aren’t the least bit harmful) and conditions itself to react as it would to any actually harmful intruder. The body is fighting off pollen particles the same way it would fight off flu particles, but unlike flu particles, allergens don’t put up a fight. So the body ends up in a fight against itself.
The Boiling Pot
The liver is the root cause of allergies: it should be pumping a smooth (and equal) flow of heat and water throughout the body. However, when that flow becomes stagnant or blocked, heat and inflammation accumulate in the body. In some dogs, this heat and inflammation will flare in the gut, producing stomach problems. Or, it may arise in the bladder, resulting in recurring bladder infections. In dogs with skin allergies, the heat and inflammation move to the surface, causing itchy, greasy skin.
Dr. Chris Bessent, our fearless leader, founder, and holistic veterinarian, compares the animal body to a gently simmering pot of water. When the pot begins to boil, it’s the equivalent of an allergic reaction. As the “pot” boils, the vital fluids in the dog’s body evaporate and phlegm accumulates (which is what causes an allergic dog’s coat to be greasy, gooey, or stinky). “In order to stop the boiling, you can either turn down the heat or add more water to the pot.”
Stepping out of the boiling pot reference (because obviously pouring cold water over an allergic animal will not actually help them), let’s turn our attention to what “adding water” and “lessening heat” actually means for our pets. By adding cooling foods and herbs to the overheating body, you can naturally decrease the excessive heat your allergic animal is experiencing. Then, supplementing with some tonifying herbs can help replenish your pet’s fluids faster, effectively encouraging the liver to return to its balanced state: pumping even amounts of water and heat throughout.
In Eastern medicine, the flow of the liver is referred to as Qi (pronounced “chee”) and is said to be the animal’s life energy. When this flow is smooth and even, the animal will enjoy good health. A healthy animal should have the perfect balance of two forces in his body: Yin (fluids) and Yang (heat). So, explaining the boiling pot theory in terms of Eastern medicine, a stagnant liver Qi turns up the Yang (heat) in the body, which in turn burns off the Yin (fluids): an imbalance that gives way to phlegm (boiling over), causing a greasy coat and itchy skin.
Our Clear AllerQiis specifically formulated to address the underlying disharmonies that can give way to seasonal allergies. The herbs included cool the skin and harmonize the body’s defenses to help support normal functions. By maintaining healthy skin and normal histamine levels and supporting the normal detoxification processes, Clear AllerQi soothes skin-related issues associated with seasonal allergies.
Take a peek at the herbs and why each is included in the formula:
Scutellaria (huang qin): Drains fire and eliminates dampness
Plantago (che qian zi): Drains heat from the upper burner and eliminates damp heat from the back half of the body
Raw Rehmannia Root (sheng di huang): Protects the yin (fluids) and blood
Alisma (ze xie): Drains heat from the upper burner and eliminates damp heat from the back half of the body
Gentiana (long dan cao): Drains damp heat especially from the back half of the body
Fructus Gardeniae Jasminoidis (zhi zi): Drains fire and eliminates dampness
Bupleurum (chai hu): Disperse heat from constrained liver Qi
Licorice Root (gan cao): Harmonizes and regulates the actions of the other herbs
Angelica Tang Kuei (dang gui): Protects the yin and nourishes the blood
Longan Fruit (long yan rou) : Calms the spirit, nourishes the blood, tonifies and augments the heart and spleen
Jujube Seed (suan zao ren): Nourishes heart yin, augments the liver blood and quiets the spirit
You can also check out our whole line of products for skin & coat support here!
Joslin is the Graphic Designer and Content Writer/Editor for Herbsmith, Inc. She’s got two dogs (Bevers and Dr. Astronaut), a ferret (Space Weasel 5000), and is petitioning for a desk fish (stay tuned). She’s been staying busy lately cookin’ up the cutest little baby, coming February 2018.