Allergies are seemingly on the rise in dogs and cats.

More and more pet parents are switching their animals to limited ingredient diets, using “hypoallergenic” shampoo, and supplementing with fish oils in order to treat what was diagnosed as a protein or seasonal allergy, a diagnosis based on symptoms like excessive itching of skin or biting of paws, hot spots, loss of fur, or even digestive disorders. While sometimes these diet changes and supplements work, more often than not, we see only a slight mitigation of symptoms rather than an actual fix. This is because most allergic symptoms are actually caused by a yeast infection, not an allergy

Yeasts are fungi that live in the gut and on the skin. Under normal, healthy conditions, in a body that is well-populated with beneficial bacteria, yeasts are just part of the system, living and interacting with the rest of the bacteria normally. However, when the body is stressed, yeasts can grow at an unhealthy rate, causing an imbalance, which leads to the infection. 

Most animals are overpopulated with yeast because the diets that they are fed put stress on their digestive systems, lack beneficial bacteria, and contain unnecessary starch that feeds yeast cultures. This is why many animals shed excessively, smell like dust or popcorn, have rotting teeth, regurgitate food, and experience frequently recurring hot spots. It’s also why allergy medication tends to only be minimally effective – it isn’t treating the cause of the problem, only the symptoms. 

In order to combat aggressive yeast cultures, the gut needs to be repopulated with living, healthy bacteria – or what we would refer to as “probiotics”. Since yeast is such an aggressive culture, a probiotic pill or powder, or supplement added onto a cooked product, will not be as effective as the bacteria that naturally live in raw foods. Probiotic supplements are bacteria in a “stagnant” state – not necessarily alive or thriving. When the yeast is strong, the probiotics must be strong. To be strong, they must be living. Living bacteria can’t be found in a synthetic product – it can only be found in unprocessed foods

The other step towards combating an aggressive yeast infection is by eliminating the yeast’s food supply – carbs.
Yeast, like all fungi, feeds on sugars. Unused carbs are converted to sugar and stored in the body. To overcome fungal infections, starve the fungus. Switching to a low-starch diet will weaken the yeast and allow the gut bacteria to balance again. 

If your dog is showing allergic symptoms, try treating for a yeast infection first. Often, simply repopulating the gut with healthy bacteria and cutting out as much starch as possible will fix the problem long term, because the actual root of the issue has been addressed. Keep in mind that although yeast infections originate in the gut, they do spread to the rest of the body and yeasts are very strong cultures. It will take some time to fully reduce an unhealthy yeast population – especially if you continue to feed it starches. 

As with most health problems, yeast infections are easier to prevent than to solve. Healthy bacteria are found in raw (meaning uncooked and unpasteurized) animal products like meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and other fermented food products like kombucha, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut and kimchi. If an ingredient comes from a healthy source, the bacteria in it will be predominantly healthy as well. Meat or dairy from diseased, unnaturally fed, or otherwise unhealthy animals will contain mostly harmful bacteria and should be avoided. To prevent yeast infections in an animal that is not already displaying symptoms, simply add in these probiotic-rich foods and minimize its starch intake. 

If your animal is displaying symptoms, there are still dietary changes implementable to solve the problem. As mentioned, yeast feeds on starch and thrives when there aren’t enough probiotics in the gut to balance it. In order to extinguish a yeast infection, your animal should be fed a raw food diet supplemented with raw goat milk or kefir. This will eliminate processed starches and also repopulate the gut. It may take time, but this approach achieves sustainable success because the actual problem has been addressed. 

For specific products to add in or switch to, or with any other questions in general, please email me at eric.nault@longdogfatcat.com or reach out through social media. 

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Thank you for reading! 

– LONG DOG FAT CAT