Archive for the ‘Allergies’ Category



Of all the different diseases veterinarians treat, “allergic inhalant dermatitis”, also known as “atopic dermatitis” or “atopy”, is no doubt the most frustrating for both owner and veterinarian alike.   Why is this you may ask?  Well in this article I will explain the many difficulties veterinarians run up against when trying to diagnose and treat a dog with “atopy”.   To begin with atopy must  first be diagnosed and distinguish from a number of other skin diseases which have as their main symptom itching and scratching.      These other conditions which must be ruled out before the diagnosis of “atopic dermatitis” can be made include mange, yeast and fungal infections, bacterial infections, food sensitivities, fleas and contact dermatitis.      To further confuse the diagnosis, pets with atopy often develop the secondary problems of yeast and bacterial infections and consequently more than one problem often exists at the same time.

To Further add  to both the veterinarian’s and owner’s frustration is the fact that atopy often causes intense itching and because the pet is so uncomfortable the pet owner is desperate to find some way to provide their pet “immediate” relief.     When these atopic dogs are scratching themselves raw it is initially necessary to break the “itch scratch cycle” with some form of cortico-steroid.    Although steroids are not the long term solution there is little else available that will give the necessary immediate relief.   Anti-histamines, fatty acid supplements,  oatmeal baths  or crème rinses, and herbal anti inflammatories may help some but rarely provide the immediate relief owners are expecting.     In spite of the fact that long term use of steroids has  unwanted side effects,  the short term use may be necessary to prevent self inflicted skin mutilation which leads to secondary bacterial infections .    Once the intense itching and scratching has subsided other supplements and medications may be used to replace steroid therapy.   Most veterinarians realize that steroid therapy is a stop gap measure that is simply treating the symptoms and not the cause of the problem, however, a short term, reducing dose course of steroids is often necessary until the other approaches have a chance to kick in.     As a holistic veterinarian I minimize many of the unwanted side effects of steroid therapy by using “natural hydrocortisone” rather than synthetic steroids like prednisone or prednisolone.

Another frustration veterinarian’s face in dealing with allergic inhalant dermatitis is the fact that many animals with atopy may, at the same time, have food sensitivities.    Allergic inhalant dermatitis usually starts out as a seasonal problem and progresses over several years to become a year round one.    Food sensitivities, on the other hand, are year round.    When animals have year round itching and scratching your veterinarian must try to discover whether the problem is atopy, food sensitivity or a combination of both.    If both airborne and food allergens are causing the dogs itching and scratching then both problems must be dealt with if the pet’s itching and scratching is to be minimized.   Because food allergies may be due to both the food and to chemicals added to the food, such as preservatives, coloring agents, flavor enhancers or texturizers, trying to discover the allergic component in the food is often quite difficult and requires the use of food trials that use limited ingredient diets.   A limited ingredient diet is defined as a diet that is made with only a single carbohydrate and a single protein source, such as duck and potato.    When attempting to reduce itching and scratching through a limited ingredient diet trial there is further frustration because the effects of the new diet can take up to 12 weeks to see if it is going to work.

Adding to the owner’s frustration is the fact that successfully treating atopic dermatitis usually requires that the pet be given several supportive drugs or nutritional supplements in addition to weekly baths that will help treat complicating yeast or bacterial infections.   It is also important to give liver and intestinal support supplements in order to reduce the number of air borne and food allergens entering the pet’s blood.   Veterinarians are well aware that giving a pet all these oral supplements along with weekly medicated bath requires a huge commitment on the part of the pet owner.    Understand that this commitment to daily therapy must go on for months.

If a pet owner makes this commitment and has conscientiously applied the therapeutic strategy for months with poor results then the next step would be to have the pet allergy tested in order to find which airborne allergens are causing the intense itching.    Once the offending airborne allergens have been identified a “hyposensitizing serum” made up of these allergens can be prepared and the owner can be taught how to give simple periodic injection just under the skin.    Unfortunately allergy testing and subsequent desensitization can be expensive and is not guaranteed to work.     To add to the frustration it can take up to 9 months of allergy serum injections to determine if the  hypo- sensitization approach will provide the answer.

By now I think it should be obvious that diagnosing and treating a dog or cat with allergic inhalant dermatitis is huge undertaking for both veterinarian and pet owner alike.   A thorough exam and careful history is just the beginning.   Periodic recheck exams at 3 to 4 week intervals will be necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.    Changes in treatment may be necessary depending on how the pet’s skin is responding and how uncomfortable the pet is.     Following the veterinarian’s instructions to the letter is extremely important in order for him or her to judge whether therapeutic changes must be made.

Besides the above conventional approach to treating pets with skin allergies, holistic veterinarian can add acupuncture, herbal therapy, NAET, bio identical natural hormone therapy, FSM therapy, and monolaurin therapy.

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Why is my dog itching, scratching, or chewing at himself? Is one of the most common questions dog and cat owners are asking their  veterinarian.    Just as with humans  there are many reasons why dogs and cats may itch, scratch or chew at themselves.   Keep in mind that itchiness is a symptom and not a disease and that  scratching is almost always the result of itchiness.    The often daunting challenge  the veterinarian is faced with is identifying the cause of the itching and the prevention of the scratching.  There are many causes for itching and scratching.    Included are parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites.   A bacterial dermatitis known as a “pyoderma” produces pimples that are very irritating .   Allergies result in skin rashes which cause severe itching and scratching and can lead to a  secondary  bacterial or yeast infection.   Autoimmune reactions can cause the skin to become red, raw, and itchy especially at the sites on the body where the skin
turns in ward and becomes the mucous membrane.    Nutritional deficiencies of such things as fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins and zinc can cause dry unhealthy skin which results in a dull, lack luster hair coat and itchy skin.

Some of the above causes of rashes,  itching and scratching are easily diagnosed while  others require a good bit of detective work.   Laboratory test used to diagnose itchy  skin problems include impression smears for yeast and bacteria infections, skin scrapings for mange mite infestations, cultures for bacterial or fungal infections, biopsies for helping identify cancer, hormonal diseases, allergies and auto immune processes.   Special ultra violet lights can discover certain types of fungal diseases.   Other laboratory test involve sending blood to an outside laboratory for measuring hormone levels .    Urine tests are available for detecting elevated cortisol levels that could cause a dog to itch and scratch.

Of course many diseases which cause itching, scratching and rashes can be treated symptomatically without actually knowing the cause of the problem .    However masking symptoms without  also treating the cause will  only be a temporary solution and the problem
will return as soon as the medication is stopped.    There are times  when the itching and scratching is so severe that drugs like corticosteroids must be used, short term,  to break the itch scratch cycle and give the pet relief .   In such cases giving the minimal amount of  a steroid  drug on an every other day dosage schedule helps to minimize the possibility of serious side effects.     Combining steroids with  anti inflammatory remedies like antihistamines and fatty acid supplements will allow for using lower doses of steroids.    The use of “natural hydrocortisone” which comes from the Yam  plant is an excellent alternative to synthetic cortisone such as prednisone or rednisolone.   Natural hydrocortisone is  “bio-identical” and thus produces fewer side effect than its synthetic drug counterparts.    If the itching and scratching is not too  severe then cortisone therapy may be avoided by using a number of other less aggressive approaches.    Frequent bathing with  a gentle herbal shampoo can help to calm the skin and wash off offending allergens.   Crème rinses that contain colloidal oatmeal, moisturizures, and a local skin analgesic like “pramoxine” can be used after a shampoo or all by themselves.     Clipping your pet’s coat short will make bathing and medicating much easier.  Sprays containing aloe and calendula can be applied  to localized rashes.    Licorice root is an herb given by mouth that  stimulates the pets  adrenal gland to produce more cortisone and thus reduce itching and scratching.   Doubling the recommended dose of oral omega fatty acids is recommended during seasonal outbreaks  when itching
is most intense.    Using an antihistamine such as benidryl  may be helpful both for its anti allergic effects and its mild sedative properties.

Regardless of the cause of itching and scratching,  the most important first step is to stop self mutilation  In the initial stages of treating severe chewing and scratching  an elizabethan  restraint collar can be placed around  the animals neck to stop licking but does little to prevent scratching unless the pet is scratching at his or her ears.    You may also want to consider clipping you pets nails short and/ortaping  padded socks over  the  dog or cat’s back feet.    You may be reluctant to use an Elizabethan collar or to pad the feet  but if you do not the self trauma becomes  a vicious cycle that even cortisone therapy won’t stop.

In summary ,  the causes of itching and scratching are numerous and  successful treatment of the problems depends on an accurate diagnosis.    Even after the problem is diagnosed successful therapy may be challenging  and frustrating  especially if the  pet’s caretaker does not thoroughly comply with their veterinarians recommendations .

For more information on alternative or holistic medicine please visit us at


Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal,  one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, and reptiles with both conventional and alternative medicine.  Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy.  He is the author  of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.   Visit us at

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit  area  including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties.   Cities in these counties including Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson,  Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms, Franklin, Beverly Hills, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Waterford, Clarkston, Union Lake,  Rochester,  Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica,  Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe,  Romeo,  Flint, Hartland,  Lansing, Okemos, Flint, Howell,  Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio





Holistic Prevention & Treatment of Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats: Kidney Failure

It is hard for any owner that loves their dog or cat to become comfortable with the fact that these pets age so much more rapidly than we do. This accelerated aging is even more obvious in the larger breeds of dogs that begin to reach their geriatric years between 8 and 10 years of age. A pet’s kidneys are often the weakest link in the aging process and all to frequently the cause of old age death. Things that pet owners can do to support their pet’s ailing kidneys are as follows:

Feed a higher fiber, low protein, high quality protein diet prescription kidney diet available from all veterinarians– or — feed a home made kidney diet by following a receipe that we make available to our patients. The diet will decrease the formation of waste protein toxins, discourage obesity and reduce the work load of the kidney.  The home made kidney diet can be fed either raw  or cooked.

Encourage your dog or cat to drink more by providing lots of fresh water throughout the day. Doing this will promote proper hydration while at the same time flush the kidney and reduce accumulating protein derived toxins. Adding Celtic sea salt to the pet’s food will encourgage drinking, provide trace minerals he or she are likely to be deficient in, and alkalinize the animal’s body. Checking the pet’s blood pressure is recommended, especially when adding salt to the diet, to help detect hypertension often caused by kidney failure. Make sure your dog or cat receives a regular dental prophylaxis to reduce oral bacteria which are injurious to the animals kidneys, liver, and heart. Daily  home dental care is essential for over all good health but particularly important for avoiding progressive kidney damage.

Supplement your dog or cat’s diet with anti-oxidants, systemic enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and glandulars to reduce kidney tissue injury by free radicals and to stimulate natural immunity. Omega 3 fatty acids, Coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid are 3 important supplements that promotes kidney health.  Systemic enzymes have been shown to reduce scar tissue in the  kidneys of aging dogs and cats.  Homeopathics remedies that can be placed in the pet’s drinking water help promote kidney health  and are easy to administer.   Of course it is better to begin these supplements early on in life before the kidneys have received significant damage and symptoms become apparent. Strategically detoxifying the body with special homotoxicologic and nutritional formulas is an important adjunct to avoiding or treating  kidney disease and most any other disease in the body. Starting these same supplements after kidney damage or kidney failure has been detected will help conserve the remaining kidney cells but will not restore the cells that have died.

Have your veterinarian perform semi annual blood and urine testing to monitor your dog or cat’s  kidney function and to provide an early warning system for the development of other degenerative disease.  Recently a new urine test, the “ERD”  micro albuminuria test, has become available. The ERD test requires only a small amount of urine and can detect evidence of kidney disease much earlier than blood tests and a standard urinalysis.  Any dog or cat over the age of 6 years old should be routinely tested with an ERD test because not only does it detect kidney disease but it is also a screen for inflammatory disease of many other organs.

Acupuncture and chinese herbs like Rehmania have been quite helpful in supporting kidney function.    Electro acupuncture  or laser acupuncture can be performed without needles at the veterinary clinic while  acupressure using the same acupuncture points can be performed at home by the pet’s guardian.     Recent scientific literature out of Europe has shown infrared laser therapy to provide beneficial effects in both kidney and liver disease.  Pulsed magnetic therapy is totally painless and will help restore voltage to damaged kidney cells.    Electro crystal rebalancing (ECR)  is a therapy that broadcast energetic frequency of the chakras to rebalance the body’s energy.    The ECR device  can also be used energize subcutaneous fluids that are commonly sent home with kidney patient to help maintain hydration.   Frequency specific micro current therapy is  a relatively new form of therapy that can be applied over the kidney area and is totally painless and easy to perform.    Infrasonic therapy is another painless therapy that uses a combination of sound and light frequencies to restore cellular function to the kidneys.   Routine chiropractic care can help support kidney health by better establishing nerve conduction to the kidneys. Finally, ozonation of subcutaneous fluid will oxygenate and alkalinize the body and restore voltage to damaged, failing kidney cells.


Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, and reptiles with both conventional and alternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include  Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms, Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, Grosse Pointe, Romeo and Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Flint, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio