What causes allergies in dogs and cats?

30th October 2012
Beryl Shuttleworth
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Your pet’s immune system is the army that is there to fight off infection. Very useful if he gets sick or cuts himself or something.

Firstly, the immune system must recognise the “intruder’ (aka the antigen, in scientific terms) as being foreign and dangerous. Then, it sends out soldiers to fight off the infection. One of the “soldiers’ sent out is called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).  IgE causes mast cells to release histamine, which causes swelling, itchiness, discharge or wheezing.

An allergy is an over-protective army (to continue the army analogy). This army over-reacts by sending out huge amounts of histamine even when the â€Ëœintruder’ is harmless – a dust mite or a component of food.

It is at this point that you are going to probably take your swollen, itchy or wheezing pet to the vet. And chances are your vet will prescribe cortisone. Cortisone will fix the allergy, in most cases. And, if the allergy is at all life-threatening, it is a very good thing as it can save lives.

But, it is when cortisone is used on a very long term basis that it can do harm to your dog or cat. Because it suppresses the immune system, it makes your pet far more vulnerable to infection. It can also cause insulin resistance, weight gain and even diabetes. Bones are also effected, with osteoporosis occurring in some cases.

So, if you are going to use long term cortisone, be sure to speak to your vet about how you can manage these effects and minimise the risk.

But, if the allergy is not life-threatening, I suggest you try Allergy Formula first. This product doesn’t boost OR suppress the immune system, it modulates it. And modulation is a very valuable thing because:

  1. if the immune system is underreacting (in sickness), the Allergy Formula boosts it.
  2. but, if the system is overreacting (in allergies), the Allergy Formula brings it back down to normal. Which is exactly what you want. No more itchiness, swelling, etc.

The advantage of using Allergy Formula over cortisone is:

  1. it doesn’t suppress the immune system
  2. it doesn’t have any nasty side effects
  3. it is completely natural and safe

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