In this modern world of ours, even the best of us are sometimes tempted with taking the easy option. Take medication for example. We’re all too busy to give much thought to healthy alternatives to medicines. Have a headache, take a pill and it’s gone. Feel an itch, grab the Benadryl, away it goes. But very often, nature provides far safer options to traditional medicine. Far safer but perhaps less convenient. Less instant. And that applies equally to our dogs. Yes, you can give a dog Benadryl, but it doesn’t come without its risks. Without its side-effects. But there’s an alternative to Benadryl if your dog is itching and scratching. It’s safer and it’s natural. It works and it won’t hurt your best friend. It’s widely known as ‘Nature’s Benadryl’, but to a dog nutritionist like myself, it’s simply known as ‘quercetin for dogs’!
So what is quercetin?
Quercetin is a flavonoid, a compound with antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s one of more than 4,000 known flavonoids. It’s commonly found in fruits and vegetables such as dark berries, apples and leafy green vegetables like broccoli. When your dog’s body has an allergic reaction, it releases histamines. This results in redness, irritation and inflammation collectively known as allergies. In this particular human being, it results in hives, itchy raised rashes officially known as urticaria.
Allergies are abnormal responses to the immune system. In my case, the allergen that causes my hives is a complete and utter mystery. Hot weather, cold weather. Spring, summer, autumn and winter. Morning, noon and night. Who knows? They come, I zap them with Benadryl, they go away. Simples!
In the case of our dogs though, it’s difficult to explain what’s happening to them. As your dog’s body attempts to fend of this hidden, mysterious assailant, it starts itching and scratching and sometimes even has digestive and respiratory problems. It can result in lots of different symptoms:
- Paw licking and chewing
- Ear infections
- Watery eyes
- Itchy skin
- Hair loss
- More paw licking, chewing and scratching
So what are these allergens?
As far as your dog is concerned, allergens come in two forms. Environmental and food-related. When an allergy occurs, your dog’s immune system kicks in. It is forced to react to triggers that to the vast majority of dogs are completely harmless. No problem at all. But to your dog, for any of a number of unknown reasons, the immune system reacts negatively to it. In the case of environmental allergies, allergens can be inhaled or absorbed through your dog’s skin. In the case of food allergies, they’re going to enter your dog’s body through its food. Whatever the cause, the end result is the same. That frustrating and annoying itching and scratching, the skin, digestive and respiratory problems already mentioned.
In the case of food allergies, there are a number of widely recognised allergens or triggers. These include wheat, corn and soy. The solution? Remove the allergen from the diet. But how do you find the allergen? How do you know what compounds actually trigger your dog’s allergies? The answer? A dog nutritionist. A dog nutritionist with a toolbox fully of nature’s finest solutions. One of which, in the case of allergies, is quercetin. Quercetin for dogs!
My dietary consultation will focus on your dog’s specific health problem and provide you with a bespoke feeding plan customised to your dog's individual requirements.
What does quercetin do?
As we’ve already discovered, quercetin is an antihistamine. It’s Nature’s Benadryl. According to Dr David Nieman of the North Carolina Research Centre, “Quercetin exerts strong anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-pathogenic, and immune regulatory effects in vitro and in animal-based studies. Epidemiological data indicates reduced rates of cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer in groups self-selecting diets high in Quercetin. In human studies, quercetin has shown to lower blood pressure, and in athletes it significantly reduces the incidence of the common cold, especially during periods of heavy training and race competition”. In short, it zaps histamine!
How much quercetin for dogs?
So just how much quercetin is right for your dog. Simple. Just multiply the weight of your dog in kilos by 18 (in pounds by 8). Well maybe not so simple but not complicated with a calculator. Then divide this figure in two to give you the amount, in milligrams, to give your dog per meal and feed morning and night.
According to my friends over at Planet Paws, that is roughly equal to giving your best friend 124 red apples or 217 cups of blueberries. And so much easier than persuading your dog to eat that lot in one sitting!
And there’s even more good news. Apparently quercetin for dogs can also help battle cancer courtesy of its anti-cancer properties.
If your dog suffers from allergies, please don’t rush to your vet for medication that will simply sweep the problem under the carpet. Book a consultation with a dog nutritionist, someone who specialises in curing dogs, naturally!