Three steps to preventing allergies in your dog
More than 45 years ago, I learned I was allergic to bee stings when I almost lost the fingers on my left hand.
My grandfather was a herbalist and he loved mullein, which is a prized medicinal herb. Mullein is what botanists call a two-year plant. The seeds sprout the first year and grow a few leaves. The next spring, a tall pole-like stalk grows out of the leafy base to get ready for an everyday miracle of abundant bright yellow flowers that help soothe a cough when used in medicine.
Every summer, my younger sister Bara and I spent several weeks at my grandparents' place. A part of our daily ritual was helping our grandpa pick mullein. One morning, I squeezed the flower to pluck it from its base and didn't notice that there was a bee in it. I was stung!
A few minutes later, my whole left hand swelled up like a balloon and a couple of hours later it was covered with blisters and the skin on my hand was purple blue. My grandma took me to the doctor who gave me an injection of steroids and antihistamines. These two drugs are designed to suppress the immune system to reduce the swelling and inflammation. However, one of the side effects is slower tissue regeneration and healing. It took many doctor’s visits and more than three weeks of repeated appointments to recover. I was later told the doctors thought I would lose my hand. I was lucky.
After this episode, I was stung several more times. The incidents were not as severe, but they were still unpleasant. This may be the reason why was so interested in developing a drug-free insect and bee sting protocol that I have now been using now for many years, a protocol I will share with you.
Why do dogs get puffy and swollen faces? There are two main reasons seen in veterinary practice: post-vaccination reactions and insect bites and stings.
I often write on the topic of unnecessary vaccination that stresses dogs' immune systems and causes them to be ill. Most dogs receive antibodies from their mother, which we call maternal antibodies. As their immune system matures, they create their own antibodies when socializing with other dogs. This process is optimal because puppies' maternal antibodies protect them while their immune system works on making antibodies of their own. It is the natural way to boost antibodies and create a strong immune system.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss vaccination protocols but it is important to know that repeated vaccination creates no more immunity than a single vaccine and is more likely to cause problems. One possible problem is a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This term is used for an acute and severe onset of allergic response that manifests by severe swelling, circulatory and respiratory distress that can be life threatening. If your pet appears weak, is trembling, vomiting, has diarrhea, is breathing quickly, wheezing, has pale gums, fever or actually collapses, he will require immediate veterinary care.
Such reactions rarely happen after the first vaccine but it often happens after vaccine boosters because the body had a chance to create antibodies against the vaccine proteins since the first vaccination.
The most common reaction I’ve seen in practice is facial swelling and puffiness. The advice I will give you does not replace a visit to your veterinarian. However, often the body responds well to two to three doses of the homeopathic remedy Thuja 200c. I usually suggest giving three pellets crushed between two spoons, which equals one dose.
In some cases, such swelling can come up days or weeks after the vaccination but I consider such delayed episodes to still be related to vaccination. Combination vaccines, the ones made for several diseases in one, have a tendency to cause oversensitivity of the immune system, which can persist for months, years or a lifetime.
If you see a reaction even a few weeks post vaccination, I still recommend treating with Thuja first before moving on to other remedies and treatments.
BEE STING REACTION
It’s hard to recognize the difference between facial swelling caused by vaccines, bee stings and insect bites. If you’re unsure of the cause of the swelling, I suggest you give your dog the homeopathic remedy Apis 30C or 200C. The number is the potency of the remedy. If you use 30C potency, which is lower, I suggest giving three doses one hour apart in the case of facial swelling. If you use 200C potency, give two to three doses two to three hours apart. If you notice the swelling coming down after the first dose, give the additional doses anyway because it will give your dog a better chance that the swelling will not come back.
After three doses, repeat a dose only if the swelling starts coming back. If your dog does not respond to Apis or you do not have this homeopathic remedy available, you can also give Ledum 30C or 200C and follow the same protocol as with Apis.
If you get stung by a bee or a wasp, treating the area immediately will reduce the pain, stinging and swelling.
Secure the bandage to the affected area with Vetrap or a band-aid and spray more solution on every two to four hours to keep it moist. (If you wish, you can change the band-aid every time).
Keep the bandage on for minimum 48 hours! Normally, this approach will keep the swelling down completely. I have tried this several times and learned that removing the bandage after 24-hours makes the stung area swell again. However, applying another compress will make it go down.
WHEN TO SEE A VETERINARIAN
My goal is not to discourage you from seeing your veterinarian should your dog end up with a bee sting or facial swelling. While severe, life-threatening anaphylactic reactions are very rare, they happen, and it is important to seek proper help. However, it may be okay in most cases to give your dog a homeopathic remedy, apply the herbal Skin Spray and closely monitor the effect. In my experience, almost every patient gets better without the use of steroids and antihistamines.
Just ensure that your vet is on call and nearby in case your dog starts getting worse.
A FEW MORE WORDS
Prevention is the best part of medicine. If you want to avoid emergency situations, the key is to stay away from a poor diet of processed food and kibble, unnecessary vaccinations and toxicity because these factors predispose your dog to allergies and reactions.
I call it the FULL GARBAGE BIN phenomenon. Toxic bodies and overburdened immune systems have a tendency to overreact because they are fatigued. It is no different than us. When we are overworked, we are more likely to overreact too.
Recent inquiries into the quality of pet food suggest that a high percentage of pet food contains unlisted and often poor-quality ingredients. In light of this, I strongly suggest you avoid any processed food, no matter what the label says. What you save on food, you will likely spend on additional veterinary care.
The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to keep your dog healthy with a raw or a cooked, whole food diet, supplemented with natural vitamins, minerals and probiotics. Another important part of preventing allergies is to minimize vaccines and replace them with antibody titer testing.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM