The Allergic Dog

Does your dog or cat suffer from chronic allergy symptoms - itchy, smelly, flaking skin, hot spots; patchy hair loss; itchy, smelly ears with heavy discharge; kitty acne? Is he or she always rubbing his eyes or ears on furniture or your rug? Is she always scratching?

Many people believe that this is "normal" for a dog.

It is not. These are allergic reactions.

Not only are they driving you and your companion animal crazy, they are the warning signs of a deeper disease - an immune system that is overloaded with toxins and moving away from health (homeostasis) toward more serious dysfunction.

This series of posts about The Allergic Dog examines the food, medicine and environmental factors that cause allergies and what we must face, stop and change in order to restore our animals - and ourselves - to health.  

I invite you to use the comments section of this page to ask questions, make comments and share your own experiences with The Allergic Dog.

Prologue: When It's Time to Say "Good-bye."

We have come to the 11th hour of our dog's natural life cycle. Matisse is 15 years old on Christmas Day. I'm very grateful we made it.

Due to over-vaccination before I knew better, he has lived with multiple chronic conditions for a very long time. Indeed, it's hard to remember when he was ever completely symptom free.

Immediately after his first rabies vaccine, he began to scratch.

In the Dark Ages before the Internet, I asked his first veterinarian why. She shrugged. Dogs do that.

Itchy skin was followed by poodle ear - dark, waxy, discharge. Having it is a function of floppy ears that create a deep, dark tunnel ideal for growing yeast. Not being able to dispatch it is a function of vaccine damage.

Continue reading When it's time to say "good-bye."

Chapter 1: A Lifetime of Symptoms

Since Matisse's death last week, I have been coping with the many faces of grief. Anger is chief among these.

I reviewed his entire medical record since we relocated to Austin in 1999. Twelve years of vet visits, shots, tests, drugs. I racked my brain for clues that foreshadowed the debility he suffered at the end of his life. What was consistent? When did it begin? When treated, did the condition resolve permanently or merely subside to re-emerge in another form? When untreated, why? What would I do differently knowing now what I didn't know then?

Continue reading A lifetime of symptoms

Chapter 2: Allergies: Disease in Disguise

In her book, "Allergies: Disease in Disguise," author Carolee Bateson-Koch DC MD, writes: "The greatest challenge with allergy is recognizing it."

Allergy does not cause every disease, but it can be a major factor in any disease.

It's easy to recognize its most common symptoms. Runny nose. Watery eyes. Sniffling. Sinus problems. Headache. Skin rashes. Hay fever. Asthma.

Less commonly known, but far more debilitating, allergy plays a significant role in arthritis, colitis, gall bladder disease, Chrohn's disease, depression.

Its full range of symptoms is staggering, affecting neurologically, in joints, circulation, respiration, digestion, intestines, skin, musculo-skeleton, hormones and more. Allergy symptoms are visible in multiple sclerosis, cataracts, conjunctivitis, diabetes, sneezing, hoarseness, otitis media (inflammation, discharge from ear, earaches,) obesity, fever, bed-wetting, low blood sugar and tinnitus for starters.

Allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis, can kill from within 16 minutes to two hours. But its typical modus operandi is an almost imperceptible erosion of the immune system that so weakens it as to let life-threatening diseases gain a foothold. This kills us slowly, over a lifetime, with multiple symptom syndromes.

Continue reading Allergies: disease in disguise

Chapter 3: Allergy and immunity

Allergies are a malfunction of the immune system; therefore, any discussion about allergies has to start here.

Over millions of years our bodies and those of our ancestors have perfected highly-developed defense mechanisms against microbial invasions and noxious chemical substances. It comprises a system of cells and organs known as lymphoid organs. These organs affect the growth, development and release of white blood cells and include the adenoids, appendix, blood vessels, bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, thymus and tonsils. The white blood cells fight infections and are important to the immune system. They search the body for infectious organisms.

Under attack by a flu virus or exposure to e coli, the immune system marshals white blood cells and other parts of its security force.These race to the site of the assault frequently propelled by increased body temperature - fever.

Phagocytes often are the first cells on the scene. These large scavenger white blood cells patrol the bloodstream, looking for possible invaders. When they find one, they engulf, digest and destroy it.

Continue reading Allergy and immunity

Chapter 4: The Picture of a Healthy Dog

In its natural state, your body, my body, an animal's body tends toward homeostasis - balance.

In a healthy body, all organs and tissues function in order to maintain a condition of equilibrium - balance. Blood flows through the body at rest about once a minute, carrying oxygen and nutrients to some 70 to 100 trillion cells. Plus this circulation animates seven to 10 million new cells that are born every second of every moment of every day the body is alive.

If nothing intervenes, the body works perfectly on its on to maintain homeostasis. For every action in the body, there's an equal and opposite reaction. Muscles strengthen or weaken depending on use or inactivity. Hormones speed up or slow down metabolism. Heart rate speeds or slows circulation. Moment by moment, day in and day out, the body adjusts to compensate for what we ingest, inhale, absorb, inject or do, be it energetic or supine.

Continue reading The picture of a healthy dog

Chapter 5: The Symptoms of Imbalance

Think of homeostasis as being centered in the middle of a teeter-totter, letting neither end get too far up or down. Then along comes a trauma (injury) or assault (allergen, toxin, stress) that throws the balance off kilter.

Symptoms appear - inflammation (redness, heat, swelling) discharge (mucus, pus,) eructation (burp, fart, tummy talking, vomit, regurgitation,) eruption (red spots, pustules with serum, lesions, scabs,) coughs, wheezing, raspy breathing or pain, fever, cold sweats

This is the body "expressing" imbalance - a signal that adjustments are necessary to move toward health. One must identify and correct something one ingests, inhales, absorbs, injects or moderate how one moves - too much, too little or inappropriate (repetitive) activity.

If this is not done, the symptoms will progress into something more serious.

Continue reading The Symptoms of Imbalance

Chapter 6: Inherited and Acquired Immune Deficiencies

While the immune system is designed to function perfectly, a lot of things can go awry.

Animals can inherit immune deficiencies as a predisposition to certain diseases. Or they acquire immune deficiencies by virtue of excessive vaccination, poorly balanced diet, hormonal changes, insufficient nutrition, over-use of corticosteroids and other drugs, as well as virus and diseases. Moreover, they can inherit or develop auto-immune disease, which has to be the unkindest cut of all.

Continue reading Inherited and Acquired Immune Deficiencies

Chapter 7: The Role of Heredity in Allergies

Having reviewed all this information, I feel chagrined that all this time I was bashing over-vaccination for the health disorders my dog developed; I could have been blaming his breeding. Heredity is a big factor in the development of disease, including allergies.

Although not the exclusive domain of the breed, poodles are predisposed to many diseases.

Continue reading The Role of Heredity in Allergies

Chapter 8: Environment: The Silent Killer  

I suspect that most of us vastly under-estimate the impact of environment, as in indoor and outdoor air, water, landscape, furniture and flooring, on health. For example, we drink fluoridated water, clean and polish our homes with chemicals and aerosol sprays, purchase bedding and furniture with foam inserts, install window treatments and carpeting treated with fire-retardant.

On the one hand, all contribute to "the good life." On the other hand, all contain chemicals or give off noxious fumes that are harmful to the health of our pets, children and ourselves.

Continue reading Environment: The Silent Killer

Chapter 9: The Great, Deadly Outdoors

I have racked my brain to recall what conditions changed for Matisse between 2003 and 2005 when symptoms of chronic bronchitis made their debut - a chronic cough. Was it due to any environmental factor within my control?

We lived in the Allergy Capital of the World. Stuart stopped smoking a pipe and began smoking cigarettes. We moved to a home adjacent to a golf course where he was more susceptible to allergens in the air and under foot - indoor carpeting and chemical lawn care where he walked. My dog became "middle aged."

Although none is inconsequential when taken alone, no one of these could trigger chronic inflammation in his respiratory system. Altogether, they were catastrophic.

Continue reading The Great, Deadly Outdoors

Chapter 10: The Middle Aged Dog

Middle age is when the chickens come home to roost for humans. Physically, the effects of our habits begin to show up, be they good or otherwise.

Our hair starts to turn gray. Our skin loses elasticity. Fitness wanes (or takes more work to maintain.) Strength and flexibility decrease. Weight and girth increase. Women's fertility declines. Men's hair thins. And lifelong friends begin to succumb to age-related health problems such as heart disease and cancer. So young.

Although the years that define "middle age" vary by virtue of size and breed between a chihuahua, who can live to be 18, and a Great Dane, who rarely makes it beyond age eight, the same reckoning occurs in our companion animals.

Continue reading The Middle Aged Dog

Chapter 11: The Impotence of Modern Medicine

The focus of modern medicine is to thwart the symptoms of disease rather than address its cause. Antibiotics. Ant-acids. Antihistamines. Anti-fungal. Anti-inflammatory. Anti-psychotic. Drugs developed in the last 175 years - the industrial age of man - are designed to kill symptoms rather than effect healing.

Not only has industrial-age science proved impotent in curbing the incidence of cancer, ischaemic heart disease, diabetes, diverticulitis, peptic ulcer, appendicitis in countries worldwide, but it has unleashed a rash of deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria carrying tuberculosis, salmonella, e coli and gonnorhea.

In fact, due to widespread use of antibiotics in people and pets as well as a prophylaxis in food animals, the rate at which bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics is fast becoming the most alarming public health issue of the 21st century.
Continue reading The Impotence of Modern Medicine

Chapter 12: The Nature of Nature

Everything is energy. Everything is connected. And every organism within this whole is a "living matrix" as Rupert Sheldrake has described it, communicating within itself as well as with the context or environment in which it grows.

To thrive, it is more open than closed. It is more fluid than static.It is adaptive. Always for the purpose of establishing - or re-establishing - stability.

Drugs that work against nature suppress the body's ability to express symptoms of disorder in order to heal. This damages the body's ability to respond altogether.

The immune system becomes maladaptive, incapable of responding to infectious or noxious threats, thus more susceptible to illness and enfeebled, weaker in its ability to ward off the dis-ease they cause.

Continue reading: The Nature of Nature

Chapter 13: The Vaccine Dilemma

In terms of health (homeostasis,) human and animal, possibly no other subject is as controversial as vaccination.

On one side, you have vaccine proponents - doctors, drug companies, public health agencies, government officials and true believers who cannot imagine a world without medical intervention. For this side, there's never too much of a good thing.

On the other side, you have the vaccine opponents - doctors, former drug company employees, parents and pet owners who connect the advent of mass, compulsory vaccination programs with a sharp increase in allergies, arthritis, epilepsy, neurological damage, encephalopathies, ADD, LD, autism, depression, anxiety, central nervous system disorders, Guillain-Barre Symdrome and brain damage. For this side, too much of a good thing has gone bad.

Thus, the vaccination dilemma: who do I trust with this precious gift of life my animal has conferred on me? How do I protect him from both known canine disease and also the unintended consequences that have emerged alongside beneficial drugs?  Does the benefit of vaccination outweigh the potential damage to native immunity or the possible threat to life?

Continue reading: The Vaccine Dilemma

Chapter 14: Vaccines and Immunity

Under attack by a foreign pathogen, the various outer layers of immunity such as skin and the mucous tissues trigger the production of extra antibodies in response to an infectious agent. If the infection takes hold, an army of white blood cells is primed to neutralize it.

Conversely, vaccination introduces foreign matter into the blood supply by injection.

It enters the system with no prior build up of white blood cells, no extra immune cells to deal with it. Also, with combination shots, the immune system is confronted with more than one disease, a highly unlikely scenario in nature.This puts additional strain on the immune system.

Continue reading: Vaccines and Immunity

Chapter 15: Vaccinosis

Vaccine damage was first described as a chronic disease in 1884 in a book entitled Vaccinosis and Its Cure by Thuja with Remarks on Homeoprophylaxis, by J. Compton Burnett, MD, published in London.

The effect of vaccination, besides the physical effects of stimulating an antibody response, is to establish a chronic disease — one that is long-lasting, indeed, in some cases a lifelong, condition.

Another way of saying this is that the laboratory process to modify a viral disease to make a strain suitable for vaccination converts the disease from acute to chronic. The virus must be changed to dilute its natural tendency to arouse a strong response. But instead of only triggering memory cells, it establishes a chronic disease that has never been seen before in clinical practice.

This sounds like bad science fiction until you look more closely at the theory as Dr. Richard Pitcairn explains it in a conference presentation he gave to professional colleagues in 1993.

Continue reading: Vaccinosis

Chapter 16: DHHP and Distemper Vaccinosis

Dr. Pitcairn's theory suggests that these allergic reactions are chronic manifestations of the disease the vaccine was supposed to prevent. If this is true, Matisse was the poster boy for distemper vaccinosis.

Continue reading: DHHP and Distemper Vaccinosis

Chapter 17: Heartworm Prevention

There is no such thing as a drug to prevent heartworms; there is only a poison to kill them. It's not necessary. More it's not recommended in dogs with chronic allergies. 

Facts About Heartworm Prevention

Chapter 18: Right Diet

Getting diet right is the second most important thing you can do to curb allergic reaction in your pet after stopping to vaccinate. But which diet is right? It's much easier than you think.

Right Diet

Chapter 19: Right Diet and Allergic Dogs

How important is right diet to a dog with allergies? Getting diet right can make all the difference.

Right Diet and Allergic Dogs

Chapter 20: Right Diet and Longevity

Can right diet help extend your dog's life? Yes. Read on.

Right Diet and Longevity

Chapter 21: Right Diet - Where Do You Begin? 

Once you get the hang of it, feeding your dog and cat a species-appropriate diet is as easy as feeding your family.

Right Diet - Where Do You Begin?

Chapter 22: Nutrigenomics - the Next Chapter in Feeding Your Dog for Optimal Health

Breeding. Environment. Health care. Animal control laws. There are many factors of pet wellness that are beyond our control. Nutrition does not have to be one. 
Canine Nutrigenomics - The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health

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