Key Points:

  • The root cause of chronic skin allergies in dogs
  • How To Boost Your Dog’s Immune System
  • What can be done to stop the chronic itch for good

The volume and severity of skin allergy patients I see is getting worse by the day.

Can you imagine what it feels like to be itchy all the time? These poor dogs…

And is it me, or is there nothing more annoying than the sound of a dog licking himself during the night?

Both dogs and owners are suffering through this chronic condition.

Owners are spending large sums of money for chronic medications that barely work, if at all. Many of these are medications that we don’t know the long term effects of yet.

The sad part of this is that owners may be inadvertently causing their dog’s skin allergies while thinking they are doing everything right to care for him.

Skin Allergies Decoded

I can’t imagine that wild dogs and wolves are stopping to scratch every 5 minutes in the wild due to skin allergies. It’s time we look at the root cause—a weakened immune system.

So why are most dog’s Immune Systems so bad?

1. Poor Nutrition

It’s our country’s #1 cause of chronic illness in people, and it’s the same for our dogs. Most dogs are still fed highly processed dry kibble.

The Problem with Dry Kibble

  • It’s made at high heat through a process called extrusion, which results in the loss of nutrients. This is why synthetic vitamins and minerals are sprayed on the dry food after processing. Extrusion also produces carcinogens
  • It contains high starch carbohydrates
  • Lacks moisture, causing chronic dehydration
  • Contains feed grade ingredients

Check out my blog that dives deeper into why dry kibble is so awful.

Just like us, dogs need variety in their diet in order to support healthy gut flora. A healthy gut is essential to a strong immune system. Approximately 90% of your dog’s immune system comes from the gut.

2. Over-Vaccination

I believe in vaccines when they are used appropriately. In humans, we get our vaccinations at a young age and then have lifelong immunity from most diseases.

Why, then, do we continue to vaccinate our dogs every single year, sometimes twice a year, for their entire lives? Especially when the core vaccines have been proven to be effective for 7–15 years.

Can you imagine going to your doctor for vaccines every single year (sometimes twice yearly) for your entire life? No doubt, you would likely question the ramifications of that. Why don’t we question it for our dogs?

Dogs are being vaccinated against diseases they either already have immunity against or are getting vaccinated for diseases that are non-life threatening, making these vaccines unnecessary. This has severe consequences for the dog’s immune system.

Check out my articles on vaccines for more info:
Non-Core Vaccines

Pesticides3. Toxic Pesticides

The problem with poisoning fleas and ticks is that you also poison the host, your dog.

We must look at this with common sense and consider the possible deleterious effects this constant bombardment of toxic chemicals has on our dog’s bodies.

Check out my blog on flea and tick prevention for more details and how to safely protect against fleas and ticks.

4. Overuse of Medications Such as Steroids & Antibiotics

Steroids are necessary in some cases, especially when treating immune-mediated disorders. In these cases, it is necessary to suppress the immune system. However, when these drugs are overused or given chronically to dogs with “normal” immune systems, they can severely weaken immunity.

Antibiotics are helpful to assist the immune system by killing off pathogenic bacteria. However, they also kill off the friendly bacteria that live in an animal’s gut, skin, and other parts of the body. Therefore, misuse or overuse of antibiotics can severely affect the dog’s defenses.

Stop the Itch for Good

air dried dog food

How To Support Your Dog’s Immune System

1. Ditch the kibble and choose a whole food, fresh diet.

  • Commercial raw diet (ex. K9 Kravings)
  • Commercial cooked diet (Farmer’s dog, NomNomNow, Justfoodfordogs)
  • Air-dried diet (ex. Ziwi)
  • Freeze-dried diet (ex. Stella and Chewy, primal, Sundays Food for Dogs)
  • Human grade dehydrated (ex. Honest Kitchen)
  • Also avoid highly processed treats such as Milkbones

2. Give a daily high quality probiotic. Check out my blog post on probiotics. Not all probiotics are created equal.

3. Give a daily high quality omega3, such as green-lipped mussel powder or oil or krill oil.

4. Consider medicinal mushrooms that have immune boosting properties. Combinations of several medicinal mushrooms seem to have the best effect. My three favorite medicinal mushrooms include Reishi, Maitake, and Turkey Tail. There are a few, good quality, mushroom dog supplements on the market. One I like is IMMUNE from

5. Provide filtered water that is fluoride and chlorine-free.

Our dogs deserve the best chance at a healthy, long life. Sadly, many of the things recommended to awesome dog guardians are the things that are hurting their dogs.

In my 20 years as an ER vet, I have seen increasing numbers of dogs dealing with more chronic diseases and shorter lifespans. It’s time to figure out why and change the way we are caring for our dogs.