Itching, sneezing, skin rashes, hair loss. Like humans, dogs are also more susceptible to allergies in summer when the pollen count is higher and fleas are out in force.
Vets will usually prescribe antihistamines, or cortisone, but they can’t treat the immune responses that’s causing your dog’s allergies. As these medications often induce harmful side-effects, many pet owners are now turning to another solution – probiotics.
Over the last ten years, researchers have made great strides in understanding the links between our digestive and immune systems. Both dogs and humans have similar immune systems that unleash our body’s defenses when bad bacteria threaten to make us sick. Sometimes, the immune system perceives a completely harmless thing – food, particles, or living organisms – as a threat, and will react strongly to that substance.
Coughing, sneezing and itching (to get something off the skin) are all ways the immune system tries to get rid of anything it perceives as harmful.
The digestive system contains many species of microbes, some of which we ingest with our food – some of them are “good” microbes that provide us with essential digestive and immune functions, and some are “bad” microbes that can do us harm.
Dogs used to obtain many of the good microbes they need for a healthy immune system through their food, contributing to a healthy digestive system that can help protect them against allergies and other unwanted conditions. Unfortunately, many pet foods are highly processed, which can remove many or all of the natural good microbes your dog needs.
Without these microbes doing their jobs to support your dog’s immune system, this vital system can malfunction, resulting in allergies and other skin conditions.
Probiotics support the immune system by introducing the “good” microbes back into the digestive system. These healthy microbes improve digestive health and regulate the immune system to help it stop sending the body the wrong messages.
Unfortunately, most probiotics are sold as freeze-dried supplements, which dramatically reduces their benefits. Many of the helpful microbes are killed off during the freezing and “reanimation” process. Often, far less than 10% of the microbes frozen actually survive.
One ingenious New Zealand company, BioBrew Ltd, decided to solve this problem by creating the only fresh, live & active animal probiotics available anywhere in the world. Their PetBrew is a liquid probiotic for pets that contains billions of live microbes and their metabolites, i.e., organic acids, which immediately start working to improve digestive health.
6-year-old lab Kendra has had itchy and irritated skin since she was about a year old, because of her allergies. Kendra’s owner Melissa Brown tried all the vet-recommended products – antibiotics, steroids and dog shampoos – but nothing worked. The vet products treated the symptoms, but didn’t deal with the cause of the allergies, so Kendra’s condition continued.
“I tried everything,” said Melissa. “I changed her diet, put her on medication and tried every shampoo and lotion on the market! In the end the vet said she is probably allergic to grass so I didn’t think there was much we could do.”
Melissa added PetBrew to Kendra’s food for a month, and was impressed with the results. “It took two weeks to take effect, it worked really well and she wasn’t scratching as madly as she usually did and seemed more settled. For about half the price of a vet visit, it was a real cost-effective solution.”
Kendra seems pretty happy to be allergy-free, too.
If your dog suffers from constant itching, or dry, flaky skin, it may be worth taking a look at whether a course of probiotics can help their immune response.