As pet parents, many of us are familiar with the helpless feeling of seeing our dogs frustrated from licking and biting their paws, itching away with no end. That's why many of us turn to dog allergy tests and drugs like Allercept, Apoquel, and Cytopoint to manage our dog's allergies. However, what many pet parents don't realize is that allergies can change over a dog's life and that traditional allergy testing and drugs only address the symptoms and not the underlying cause.
These outdated approaches to tackling allergies mentioned above could lead to us unnecessarily giving our dogs strong anti-allergy drugs for the rest of their lives, which of course comes with a host of side effects (often not spoken about enough!). In reality, as our dogs' microbiome is constantly changing, they may not even remain allergic to the trigger that we initially started medicating them for. To understand how allergies really work, we need to understand the microbiome.
The microbiome refers to the ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in and on our dog's bodies. It plays a crucial role in their overall health, including their immune system, digestion, and metabolism. A healthy microbiome can help prevent and manage allergies by strengthening the immune system and promoting a healthy gut. Lack of diversity in the microbiome has been linked to allergy-like symptoms.
So, why do allergies change over a dog's life? Well, a dog's microbiome is constantly changing and adapting to its environment. As a dog grows and ages, its diet, lifestyle, and exposure to allergens can all affect the diversity and balance of bacteria in its gut. This can lead to changes in the immune system and an increased risk of allergies.
The good news is that just as risk of allergies can be increased, they can also be mitigated over time through managing diet and tracking the microbiome. Often, allergy symptoms flare up at certain times in the year or seemingly after being exposed to certain triggers. In reality, these flare ups could be linked to an underlying imbalance in the microbiome - which has been silently brewing away in the background.
An effective way to better understand the root cause of the flare up would be to test the microbiome whilst symptoms are at a peak (and tackle the immediate imbalances identified through nutritional changes), and then also test the microbiome at a later date - even if your dog is not presenting symptoms. This is key, especially for reoccurring allergies, as the calmer periods are when long-term underlying imbalances can be identified and tackled to prevent reoccurrence of allergy symptoms.
The microbiome testing will assess the population bacteria in your dog’s gut (which is heavily linked with overall health, wellness and allergies) and provide you with recommendations and insights on next steps in terms of nutrition. The comparison of the dog’s microbiome at these different time points would be an effective way of understanding the root cause of allergy flare up.
By identifying specific strains of bacteria in your dog's gut, microbiome testing can help identify potential allergens and provide insight on dietary changes and supplement recommendations to promote a healthy microbiome. This can lead to long-term benefits for your dog's overall health and well-being, getting rid of the their allergies for good!