3-STEP WELLNESS PLAN FOR ELIMINATING ALLERGIES in cats
At Pet NutriSystems we encourage a proactive approach to pet health. It is the best way to protect our pets and keep them healthy. If your cat is suffering from allergies, we offer well-researched products and information that give much needed support when your friend needs it most. Following the guidelines in the 3 step wellness plan can give your cat the support to stop the suffering sooner.
|Step 1: Identify the Allergen(s) - getting to the source of the problem|
Determining exactly what is causing the allergic reaction in your cat is not always easy and it requires a bit of detective work - and a lot of patience.
The most common skin allergy problem for cats is flea dermatitis, which is an allergy to flea saliva. If your cat goes outdoors or is exposed to other pets that have been outdoors, there is a good possibility they have a flea infestation. It only takes one flea to make a cat with a flea allergy miserable.
Flea dermatitis is difficult to discern from other skin conditions since the intense itching results in excessive licking, biting and chewing - resulting in skin eruptions and hair loss. So, if there is any chance your cat could have been exposed to fleas, give them a bath in Neem Shampoo. It is all-natural and it gets rid of the fleas and their larva without the worries of a pesticide product. Also see Managing Parasites for more information on keeping your cat pest free naturally.
Eliminating the fleas and keeping them away from your cat could be an easy solution to their skin problems.
Inhalant and contact allergies
Our cats can be allergic to the same types of inhalant stimuli that we are, such as house dust, molds, dust mites, household chemicals, pollen, feathers, etc. Even a new kitty litter can cause allergic problems.
Identifying an inhalant or contact allergy can be difficult and it requires a great deal of detective work on your part. Here are some things to consider:
- If your cat sneezes or wheezes, you are probably dealing with an inhalant allergy.
- Is the allergy affecting a specific area of skin, like under the chin or stomach? This could indicate a contact allergy. Your cat could be allergic to a plastic food or water bowl. Or they could be allergic to a detergent used to launder bedding.
- If the allergy is seasonal you are probably dealing with a plant, pollen or allergy.
- If the allergic reaction is new, what has changed? New kitty litter, new houseplant, new cleaning agents? These are all things to consider.
It is estimated that up to 30% of pet allergies are the result of food ingredients. Allergy testing has not proven to be overly accurate when it comes to identifying food allergies and it usually requires an elimination diet to know for certain.
Some of the clues to look for:
Not all factors have to be present to indicate a food allergy.
- Allergies are year round
- A change in environment does not alleviate the symptoms
- Ear infection and skin problems that respond to antibiotics, but recur once the medication is discontinued
- Itchy skin that does not respond to antihistamine or steroid treatment
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea (food intolerance)
- Frequent urinary tract infections
The straightforward way to identify a food allergy is an elimination diet. It is a very lengthy process that requires a great deal of effort and patience. Basically, the cat's diet is restricted to two items (one meat and one carbohydrate) that are not a part of their normal diet. Examples are venison and potato, rabbit and turnip, duck and peas, etc. The diet should contain only these two items for 7-12 weeks. If symptoms improve, place the cat back on their original diet. If symptoms return you know you are dealing with a food allergy.
Note: If your cat eats an all meat diet (no grains or vegetables), you do not have to include vegetables in the elimination diet.
Once a food allergy is determined, you begin the lengthy process of returning to the two-item diet until symptoms abate and then adding possible allergens until you determine what food(s) are causing the reaction.
|Step 2: Eliminating the Allergens - not always easy|
Determining what is causing the allergic reaction is the first half of the dilemma. Fortunately once you reveal most allergens, they can be dealt with easily. If you uncover an allergy to a food or a detergent, that's an easy fix - just get rid of the offender.
If your pet is allergic to pollen, dust, mold, etc. (seasonal allergies) there is only so much you can do. Fastidious housekeeping and air filters may help, but they usually won't completely remedy the problem. It is also possible you won't be able to determine the exact cause of the allergy, despite your best detective work. In either case, it is time for supplements.
|Step 3: Nutritional Supplements|
Nutritional supplementation can often help cats deal with unresolved allergies by fighting inflammation and strengthening the digestive system.
Veterinarians recommend adding additional amounts of long chain fatty acids, found in the highest concentrations in fish oil, for a variety of health reasons. Fish oil not only helps maintain a healthy coat and skin, it also reduces inflammation, reduces itching and has the added benefit of supporting kidney function, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system and more.
Nutri-Vet Wild Salmon Oil comes from 100% wild salmon, not farmed sources. Wild salmon has higher levels of beneficial omega-3 and lower levels of saturated fats. In addition, farmed salmon have been found to contain significantly higher concentrations of PCBs, dioxin and other cancer causing contaminants than salmon caught in the wild.
Many pets suffering from allergies also have issues with yeast overgrowth. Unfortunately a lot of the conventional treatments for allergies symptoms (steroids and antibiotics) increase the likelihood of yeast problems. Probiotics promote a healthy intestinal tract, improve food digestion, and help inhibit the overgrowth of yeast. Probiotics should be combined with digestive enzymes for optimum results.
Gentle Digest is a human grade probiotic that promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in your cat's digestive tract. Unlike other products, Gentle Digest uses live microencapsulated spores which are resistant to gastric acids and therefore ensure delivery to the intestines. In addition, it is shelf stable and no refrigeration is required.
Feline Digestive Enzymes - Digestive enzymes are necessary to properly breakdown food and absorb nutrients. This is especially important given today's non-raw pet diets. Used in conjunction with a probiotic, digestive enzymes help maintain a healthy digestive tract to control yeast overgrowth. They may also help reduce the irritation caused by food allergies to the bladder wall, which in turn causes urinary tract infections. Dr. Goodpet's Feline Digestive Enzymes are specially formulated to work with a cat's high protein diet.
Get all the vital supplements - plus the Allergy Detective and the Guide to the Elimination Diet in your Essential Allergy Kit - for cats.