Newsletter - April 2011

The News At Home

Toronto becomes overly excited at the mere thought of spring. We’re known to visit garden centers and buy any pots and seeds available, even if we can’t make use of them yet. We’re just as likely to do the spring yard clean-up as soon as the snow melts, and of course, March usually gives us one last snowfall just to mock us. This was the case last week, when Tori sat perched at the window on a particular Saturday afternoon. Not only were people doing everything from sweeping porches to yanking gardening supplies out of their cars, but children were playing noisily outside and families were going for walks with their dogs. In Tori’s world, this was both exciting and the end of life as we know it. Her tail wagged furiously every time she saw a person or dog, but seconds later, she was barking her warnings and even growling at what, apparently, was grave danger.

Every now and then she’d hop off the couch long enough to wag her tail at me and wait for praise. Yes, Tori. You are the bravest dog on the planet. Thank you for doing such a good job. The fact that almost every passerby stops and giggles at your fifteen pounds of bodyweight and floppy ears flowing in the breeze attests to the fact that you are indeed a frightening vision, capable of keeping all dangers at bay.

Fact of The Month

Allergy Season is Here

Environmental allergies, that is. Your dog may be sneezing, have runny eyes and nose, or scratching him/herself, including the ever-famous bum scooting along carpets. Some dog owners believe that helping to “boost” the immune system especially at this time of year is the key. In fact, what you are seeing is an over-reaction of the immune system, so even it was possible to “boost” it, this is the last thing you’d want to do.

Environmental allergies are tough to subdue, but certain things can help. Use an air purifier, keep pollens out of the house as much as possible (this means not opening windows nearly as often as you might like), keep bedding fresh and clean, dust and vacuum more often than you’d prefer. Yes, it’s indoor work at a time of year when we’d much rather be in the garden, but these things really can help. Rinsing the dog with cool water can also help because it removes some pollen from the hair.

Foods and supplements can help, too, but we need to understand the how and why. Mast cells are located throughout body tissues, and this includes the “outside” tissues in the nose, skin and eyes. Environmental allergens such as pollens and dust attached themselves to these cells and the body responds by releasing histamine. This is the basic explanation of why antihistamine medications work. Bioflavanoinds decrease the sensitivity of mast cells, thereby making them less likely to release histamine in the first place. True enough, some dogs (and people!) will continue to release histamine, but the problem is lessened even if not eradicated, and as we can all agree, any help we can get is appreciated.

Bioflavanoids are available in a host of vegetables as well as in supplement form. Think broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, berries (caution: strawberries are often the cause of histamine reactions), apples and onions. Of course, onions are toxic to dogs, so strike this one off the list, but you might want to keep it in mind for the human family. Why these foods in particular? Because they provide a good deal of Quercetin, one of the bioflavnoids shown to help allergic conditions. Inhibition of histamine release by mast cells and basophils also contributes to quercetin's anti-inflammatory activity.

In addition, Acidophilus may provide some defense against seasonal allergies. The National Institutes of Health states that people with cedar pollen allergies have fewer symptoms if they are taking this supplement. More studies are needed in this area, especially as concerns dogs, but going by my experience over the years, I consider acidophilus to have great merit. Lastly, and I say this without support of scientific evidence, our Antioxidant Booster seems to help a lot of dogs. My guess is that ellagic acid being an anti-inflammatory has something to do with it. After so many years of reading client emails with positive reports, I’ve sometimes allowed science to take a bit of a back seat and just enjoyed cheering these dogs on.

Monica

Customer: “Does this dog have a good pedigree?” Breeder: “Ha! If that dog could talk, he wouldn't speak to either of us.” - Author Unknown

 
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