Spring is upon us and with that comes all of the joys of warmer weather. For me personally, my mood is heavily impacted by the weather and come August I am totally exhausted by winter and often feeling pretty flat. The sun and warmth that September brings can’t come soon enough. I love seeing the blossoms start to sprout, sunflowers and jonquils are back at the market, t-shirts reappear, gardens can be planted and the seasonal food starts to get a bit brighter.
Unfortunately for many, myself included, it’s also allergy season. I am prone to hayfever just severe enough to really put a damper on Sunday beers in the park on a sunny but slightly windy day. I get sneezy, watery eyes and, most annoyingly, my skin sometimes flares up with itchy patches of eczema. I try to avoid taking harsh medications, partly because more often than not I find they don’t do anything, but also because I spend an awful lot of time and money ensuring my gut is well balanced and I don’t want to undo all of that hard work for the sake of a few sneezes (I actually LOVE sneezing, but the novelty does wear off).
If you have a dog that is prone to seasonal allergies then you have probably experienced similar symptoms in them around this time of year. If you’re reading this blog then you probably also don’t love the idea of pumping your pooch full of steroids and antihistamines any more than I do. I will concede that sometimes this may be unavoidable, and as always I recommend you speak to your holistic veterinarian if your dog is really uncomfortable.
As usual, I would recommend in the first instance switching your dog to a raw, natural diet, as a strong immune system is any dogs’ first line of defence. But there are also some natural remedies you can try, particularly if your dog is already eating raw.
The following is a smoothie recipe that packs an antioxidant punch and contains ingredients that can potentially fight seasonal allergies. I recommend freezing it into an ice tray, so you can easily pop out a portion each day and make it last.
The key allergy fighting ingredient here is honey, which I have also written about in a previous post, 5 Foods to Boost Your Dog’s Health. In short, feeding small doses of local, organic honey can assist your dog to build a tolerance to the pollen it contains, making an overactive immune response (ie. an allergy) less likely when exposure occurs through the skin and nasal passages. Parsley and kale are high in both vitamin C and vitamin K. While dogs are equipped to produce both of these vitamins, allergy season is a good time to add a booster. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports the immune system, and in high doses has been known to display antihistamine qualities. Vitamin K is important, because if your dog has allergies then it is likely they have been on some sort of medication. Vitamin K is produced in the intestines meaning that it is heavily impacted by medications, particularly antibiotics, which will have upset the balance of the gut, causing vitamin K production to drop. Much like the leafy greens, berries are a great source of these antioxidant rich vitamins.
This recipe can be used for dogs of all sizes, just adjust the number of smoothie cubes you feed. One per day for smaller dogs and two for larger dogs will be fine. I don’t recommend feeding this to puppies or dogs with a significantly compromised immune system, as they may be more susceptible to contracting botulism if the honey contains spores.
You can be pretty free and loose with the quantities here, just don’t add too much extra honey.
Allergy fighting smoothie recipe
3 firmly packed cups of organic kale, roughly chopped
1 cup of organic parsley, roughly chopped
Half a cup of local, organic honey
Half a cup of blueberries (frozen is fine)
1 cup of very warm water
Add the kale, parsley and half the water to a blender and blitz until everything is finely chopped.
Add the honey and remaining water and blend until smoothie consistency (add more water as required).
Spoon into and ice block tray and top each cube with a few blueberries. Freeze until needed.
This is just one way nutrition can be used to improve your dogs’ health without resorting to harsh medications for fairly minor ailments. I have plenty more where this came from! Nutrition can be used to relieve so many gripes that we’ve come to accept as a part of life but needn’t be. Shoot me an email if you think your dog could be healthier or happier, or sign up to receive regular updates and tips.