Treating Autoimmune Disease In Dogs & Cats
What Is An Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune diseases are characterized by unusual, puzzling symptoms that appear to be unrelated or are misdiagnosed as something else. For example, a dog’s skin sores and lameness may be treated as separate health issues when both could be symptoms of an autoimmune disease called Lupus. Conventional veterinary treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications will provide temporary relief of the symptoms but will not address the systemic underlying autoimmune disease. Symptoms may come and go and there may be a period of wellness until a trigger prompts an attack.
Autoimmune disease in dogs and cats occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's healthy cells. In autoimmune disease, the pet's immune system is so overloaded that the pet's body forms antibodies to its own tissues and attacks itself. Autoimmune conditions can be one of the hardest illnesses to treat and conventional care typically involves the use of steroids to calm the overactive immune response. While there is often a genetic predisposition, the onset of attacks is associated with triggers (e.g. exposure to vaccines, environmental chemicals, stress, food allergens).
There Is Hope! There Is Help For Pets With Autoimmune Disease
There is hope for dogs and cats with autoimmune diseases. Treating autoimmune diseases in pets by identifying the triggers can help control the associated inflammation. A holistic approach using diet changes and supplements (along with conventional veterinary treatments from your veterinarian) can reduce symptoms and reliance on steroids and antibiotics. Please see below for a list of our natural supplements for treating autoimmune holistically in cats and dogs. Our autoimmune disease natural treatments for cats and dogs have been used successfully in veterinary hospitals since 2005. Ask Ariel's extensive experience and results helping pets with autoimmune disease is why our holistic pet supplements are recommended by veterinarians nationwide.
Triggers Of Autoimmune Disease
Triggers that prompt autoimmune disease in cats and dogs can be:
- Stress related
- Food allergies
- Environmental allergies
Autoimmune Disease in Dogs - Symptoms
Recognizing the symptoms of autoimmune disease in your dog is the first step to properly treating the problem. Autoimmune disease is characterized by periodic bouts of unusual symptoms that may appear to be unrelated. Dogs can have periods of wellness and then triggers such as food allergies or stress can bring on an autoimmune attack.
Autoimmune disorders in dogs may include such symptoms as the following:
- Chronic health issues (e.g., one infection after another)
- Loss of appetite or anorexia
- Painful, swollen joints or lameness (immune-related arthritis)
- Skin problems (lesions, hair loss, coat changes)
- Ulcers in mucocutaneous junctions (nostrils, anus, mouth)
- Gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea, vomiting, constipation)
- Unusual weight gain or loss
- Hematological disorders (bleeding, low platelets, etc.)
Common Autoimmune Disorders In Dogs:
- Hypothyroidism (canine autoimmune thyroiditis)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Addison’s Disease
- Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA)
- Lupus Erythematosus
- Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia
Autoimmune Disease in Cats – Symptoms
Autoimmune disease in cats is also characterized by puzzling, unusual symptoms similar to some of those in found in dogs. In contrast to hypothyroidism (abnormally low activity of the thyroid gland) in dogs, cats develop hyperthyroidism (overactivity of the thyroid gland). There may be periods of sickness and periods of wellness. Your cat may have constant ailments, such as chronic infections. Your cat may improve for awhile with a steroid injection (e.g. stomatitis or pillow paw) only to have the symptoms return (e.g. redness, swelling, soreness) after the effects of the medications wear off. Symptoms may seem unusual and unrelated, when in fact they are all part of the same condition -- autoimmune disease.
Common Autoimmune Disorders In Cats:
Holistic Treatments for Cats And Dogs With Autoimmune Disease
At Ask Ariel, we specialize in providing holistic treatments for pets with autoimmune disease. Pet Nutritionist Susan Blake Davis used these supplements along with veterinarians at VCA hospitals to help pets with conditions such as hyperthyroidism, pillow paw, IBD and more. Our natural remedies for autoimmune disease can be used along with conventional veterinary treatments such as steroids and antibiotics.
The goal of the supplements is to reduce infection and inflammation so that reliance on steroids and antibiotics can be reduced. Over the years, we have seen many pets with IBD for example who with diet changes and supplements, are able to finally stop prednisone. Our extensive experience helping pets with autoimmune condition has helped us identify the proper natural remedies that rebalance and modulate a pet's immune system, rather than overstimulate it. Caution should be used whenever "immune support" supplements are given to pets with autoimmune disease. Many pet owners see their pets suffering with constant infections and use herbal remedies that for a normal immune system might help, however, for a pet with autoimmune disease, it might make the pet worse. When pets have an autoimmune disease, the immune system is overstimulated to such an extent that their body forms antibodies to its own tissues and attacks itself. Thus, the goal of our autoimmune protocol is to rebalance and calm the already over-stimulated immune response.
Pillow Paw In Cats (Plasma Cell Pododermatitis)
“Pillow Foot or Paw” (Feline Plasma Cell Pododermatitis) is an autoimmune condition in cats. The cat's body has an inflammatory response to an antibody or infection. With Pillow Paw, excess plasma is produced and the padding of the paw becomes soft, swollen, and inflamed. As it progresses, sores and puffy or cracked pads can develop, making it painful for cats to walk. Pillow Paw can affect one or all of the pads. Pillow Paw can occur in cats of any age, gender or breed.
When physical symptoms are evident, a veterinary exam may be enough for diagnosis. Your vet may want to confirm Pillow Paw with blood tests that determine lymphocyte levels. Conventional veterinary pillow paw treatments are antibiotics and steroids to calm the inflammation and clear any infection. If your pet has been diagnosed with Pillow Paw, it is important to provide your pet with immune system support and to reduce the triggers. Each pet is different and how to treat pillow paw in cats will depend on your cat's specific triggers and how you manage them. The onset of the inflammatory attacks is often associated with these triggers, which could include stress, exposure to vaccines, environmental chemicals, or food allergens. These contribute to a "flare-up" which may then quiet down for a period of time. Providing support for the immune system will lessen the frequency and duration of flare-ups.
"Kiyoshi was rescued March 2017, during the only snowfall, from my back yard. He was limping with a bloody foot. We caught him without much effort and took him to my vet. He was 8 months to one year old, having worms, ear mites, and possibly 'pillow foot'. He had to be quarantined from my other rescued kitty, Lily, until cleared.
I then started both cats with Ask Ariel's supplements: the Power Probiotic,NotaSAN,QuentaSAN,ProAller, Soothing Digestive and later tried Amazing Omegasand AllerEaze. It wasn't very long before Kiyoshi's paws healed and swelling completely reduced. (Quickly enough for the vet to say that it possibly was allergies vs. autoimmunity.) Lily benefited from the probiotics and digestives reducing stomach sensitivity.
Kiyoshi is a sweet, gentle boy with a sensitive nature. All he wants is to be cuddled and loved. It amazes me how quickly he adjusted from the feral life to the laze about, fat boy style. You can see how safe and relaxed he is in this photo."
Jaymie M - Capitol Heights, MD
“I just had to write and tell you what your Power Probiotic did for my cat, Frederick. Frederick developed an autoimmune issue which was eventually diagnosed as “pillow paw” by the vet. His front paws would swell and bleed and looked so painful. He was prescribed a round of antibiotic that I wasn’t at all sure would work on his pillow paw and I just hated it for him. I then ordered a bottle of Power Probiotic and Frederick’s paws finally healed after so many years of him suffering with pillow paw. I am most certain that the Power Probiotic is what cleared up the pillow paw and continues to help him out with his digestion and immune system today as I still put some in his food daily. His little paws are perfectly healthy and pain free, and this makes me so happy!
I just wanted to let you know that you are a blessing and I am so thankful I came across your website.”
Dawn P - North Carolina
Lupus In Dogs
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in dogs in which the body's immune system attacks the body's own cells and tissue. With multiple nonspecific signs and symptoms, like other autoimmune diseases in cats and dogs, it is often difficult to diagnose. The symptoms come and go, which results in delayed diagnosis and treatment.
There are two forms of lupus in dogs:
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a fairly rare chronic autoimmune disease. SLE is a progressive and unpredictable condition that can affect the dog's entire body. Flare-ups can result in inflammation and tissue damage in the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, nervous system, or blood. Conventional veterinary treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressants. SLE is believed to be genetic, but factors such as exposure to sunlight, stress, reactions to medications, and viral infections may also contribute.
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) is the most common form of lupus and mainly affects the basal cell layer of the skin. It is sometimes referred to as "collie nose", as the collie breeds seem to have a genetic predisposition. Early signs of the condition start with a loss of pigment in the nose. The discoloration will lead to scaling and cracking and eventually to ulcerations. DLE can also affect the lips, ears and less commonly the feet and genitals. Exposure to the sun can make the condition worse. Conventional canine lupus treatments include antibiotics and immunosuppressants. Sunscreen use is advocated, but many ingredients (such as zinc oxide) in human sunscreens are toxic to dogs, so a pet-safe sunscreen must be used.
While there is no cure for either Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or Discoid Lupus Erythematosus, using a holistic approach in conjunction with conventional veterinary care can control symptoms and improve the pet's well-being.
Hyperthyroidism is the most common hormonal disorder in cats. The thyroid becomes hyperactive and produces too much of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can have serious consequences and can negatively impact the heart, kidneys (due to the blood passing through too quickly), digestive system, liver and nervous system. Some of the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats are: weight loss, increased appetite, restlessness/anxiousness, poor hair coat, fast heart rate, increased water drinking, rapid breathing and diarrhea. Feline hyperthyroidism usually appears in older cats and is more common in females.
Feline hyperthyroidism is most often a symptom of autoimmune disease. The thyroid tissue is being attacked by the cat's immune system. There are several options for conventional veterinary treatments, but they all focus on treating the thyroid gland to try to regulate the production of the excess thyroxine hormone. Treatment can consist of medications, radioactive iodine treatment or surgery. A holistic veterinary approach can be very different. Medications and thyroid treatments will help control the symptoms, but it's also important to address the pet's immunity and well-being as a whole.
Typically cats with hyperthyroidism have a history of digestive problems. Since the majority of your cat's immune system is located in the digestive tract, diet changes and nutritional supplements are key to regulating the immune system. Hyperthyroidism is a complex autoimmune condition affected by many factors. When dealing with hyperthyroidism in cats, natural treatments cannot reverse the damage that may have already been done to the thyroid gland, but they will help reduce the progression and severity of the condition and improve your cat's overall well being.
Check the ingredients on the foods and treats that you are giving your cat. Many cat owners are unknowingly making their cat's hyperthyroidism worse by supplementing with products that are high in iodine, such as kelp in marine products. Iodine is a misunderstood element in human and pet thyroid problems and can exacerbate thyroid problems when autoimmunity is involved.
Canine Hypothyroidism (Canine Autoimmune Thyroiditis)
Unlike cats, hyperthyroidism in dogs is uncommon. Instead, low thyroid in dogs (or hypothyroidism) is a much more common diagnosis. Hypothyroidism in dogs is the opposite of hyperthyroidism in cats. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid is not producing enough thyroxine and your dog's metabolism is affected. Low thyroid in dogs can affect your pup's overall wellbeing. The majority of canine hypothyroidism is the result of autoimmune thyroiditis. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland cells. As the thyroid loses function, the dog will become more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Certain breeds may be genetically predisposed to this condition (ex: Doberman Pinschers, Irish Setters, Rhodesian Ridgebacks).
Thyroid values can vary considerably and there are variations in the way veterinarians may interpret the results and treat the dog's condition. Holistic veterinarians may treat a dog with borderline values, based on symptoms of hypothyroidism, whereas some conventional veterinarians may only treat once the values become very low (out of the normal range). Since hypothyroidism is a progressive condition, identifying early signs and taking a proactive approach (with diet and supplements) can help slow the progression of the disease. Hypothyroidism is very common in middle-aged dogs, but many dogs are not diagnosed until the condition has progressed very far along.
When treating thyroiditis and hypothyroidism naturally, please understand that supplements cannot reverse the damage that may have already been done to the thyroid gland, but they can help to slow the progression and severity of the condition. Supporting your dog's immune system is essential to prevent other illnesses.
Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism) In Cats And Dogs
Addison's disease is an uncommon autoimmune disease. The pet's immune system destroys the tissue around the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and produce hormones and steroids. They regulate internal organs and help your pet respond to stress. Dogs with Addison's may experience recurrent digestive issues, loss of body condition and inability to respond to stress. Like other autoimmune diseases, Addison's disease is not curable but can be controlled long-term with replacement hormones. An appropriate diet and immune support supplements can help manage the symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) or Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)
Red blood cells carry oxygen to cells throughout the body. When the red blood cell count falls below normal range, their function is impaired. This is referred to as anemia. When your dog or cat has immune mediated hemolytic anemia, the immune system is destroying it's own red blood cells. Your pet still produces the cells, but they are attacked after they are released into circulation. There are two types of IMHA: primary and secondary. The most common type of anemia in cats and dogs is primary IMHA. With primary IMHA, your pet's immune system produces antibodies that attack its own red blood cells. An underlying disease or toxin modifies the red blood cells in secondary IMHA. This type of IMHA can be caused by cancer, infection, parasites, chemicals, or allergic reactions.
With all types of anemia, your dog or cat can become weak from lack of blood. As it progresses, the body can become jaundiced due to an increased filtering load on the liver. Conventional veterinary treatment will generally include a blood transfusion and steroids. How to treat anemia in cats and dogs naturally begins with supplements to modulate, instead of overstimulate, the immune system. Immune mediated hemolytic anemia can be managed, but not cured.
Pemphigus in Dogs And Cats
Pemphigus is a group of autoimmune diseases affecting the skin and mucous membranes of cats and dogs. The immune system mistakenly targets and breaks down the "links" between the skin cells. Pemphigus typically begins as red patches that turn into fluid filled blisters. The skin becomes scabbed and painful. The blisters are most common near the nose, eyes and ears, but can also occur on the foot pads, gums and groin area. It can also cause swollen lymph nodes and secondary bacterial infections dues to cracked or ulcerated skin.
There are three kinds of pemphigus: pemphigus foliaceus, pemphigus erythematosus, and pemphigus vulgaris. Foliaceus is the most common of the three, with Akitas and Chows seeming to have a genetic predisposition for the condition. The blisters usually start around the nose area and then spread to the skin around the eyes and ears. Erythematosus is the least severe form and usually only affects the head, face, and foot pads. Vulgaris is the most serious and least common. The ulcers and blisters may become deeper and more severe and the itchy, crusted skin may become generalized over the entire body. Secondary infections are common with pemphigus vulgaris. Sun exposure can worsen all three types of pemphigus, so it is very important to limit time in the sun.
Conventional veterinary treatment for pemphigus is steroids. As with all autoimmune conditions, the symptoms will wax and wane. Pemphigus can go into remission, but it tends to be a chronic condition. Many cats and dogs with pemphigus also have allergies and inflammation. If your pet has feline pemphigus or canine pemphigus, dietary changes are essential, as certain food allergens can worsen inflammation. The goal of holistic supplements for pemphigus is to support the immune system to help limit the recurrence and severity of pemphigus flare-ups.
Feline Rodent Ulcers (Eosinophilic Granuloma)
Does your cat have inflamed sores, blisters or ulcers around the mouth? Despite their scary name, these ulcers have nothing to do with rodents. Feline Rodent Ulcers (also known as eosinophilic granuloma or indolent ulcer) is a non-contagious condition, unique to cats, where oral mucosal lesions (open sores similar to cold sores) appear, most often, on the upper lip of cats. You might first notice a yellow or pink shiny spot, which deepens into a lesion. The sores can be very painful and hinder your cat's ability to eat. They are commonly caused by an autoimmune reaction but can be allergy or genetic based. Triggers such as food allergies, exposure to chemicals, vaccines and stress can be contributing factors.
Traditional veterinary treatment for feline rodent ulcers almost always requires steroids. These provide short term relief, but using these medications long-term can weaken your cat's immune system. Holistic veterinary treatments, in conjunction with conventional treatments, can minimize flare-ups and reduce the need for medications. Holistic treatment entails feeding your cat an anti-inflammatory, hypoallergenic diet and using supplements that support and modulate the immune system.
Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT)
In immune mediated thrombocytopenia, the immune system attacks and destroys blood platelets. Platelets are essential for coagulation and blood clotting. Platelets help repair obvious injuries, but they also control microscopic injuries that we may not see. Without platelets, severe bruising or bleeding can occur. Conventional veterinary treatment will generally include a blood transfusion and steroids. Like other autoimmune diseases, modulating and supporting the immune system is the single most important thing you can do for your cat or dog.
The Best Autoimmune Disease Holistic Treatments For Pets
The Immune Support Kit Is An Effective, Easy To Use Home Remedy For Dogs and Cats With Autoimmune Conditions
Contains three tasteless, natural remedies. These three remedies deliver fast relief for your pet's autoimmune symptoms and are easy to administer. They help modulate and support your pet's natural immune response rather than overstimulating it the way many supplements can. Essential for treating pillow paw and stomatitis in cats.
NOT - Natural homeopathic formula that fights infection and supports your pet's immune system. Controls harmful bacteria and restores gut flora balance, improving digestive symptoms and immune function. Gentle, easy to administer and safe for long-term use.
QUENT - Natural homeopathic formula that fights viruses and infection, especially targeting the lung and upper respiratory system. Autoimmune disorders in cats especially often involve underlying viruses so using the NOT and QUENT together is very effective in treating autoimmune disease in pets.
Silver Immune Support - Silver Immune Support is an all-natural, easy to use remedy to help your pet recover from a bacterial infection or viral flare-up. It is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and well tolerated even by tiny pets.
Amazing Omegas - Highest quality fish oil that reduces inflammation and is essential for pets with autoimmune disease.
Power Probiotic - The best probiotic for pets! Backed by scientific research, this powerful multi-strain formula promotes the growth of friendly bacteria which are essential to a healthy immune system. Critical to use if your pet has taken antibiotics and steroids. Helpful as an IBD in dogs and cats treatment when combined with Soothing Digestive Relief. Most pets love the taste of Power Probiotic. Safe, natural and NO FILLERS!
Immune Harmony - Contains a unique patented sterol supplement that provides long-term immune support. Very helpful for pets with viruses, autoimmune disease and cancer. Very well tolerated by both cats and dogs. Use with other supplements that help to readily relieve autoimmune symptoms, while this remedy helps to support the long-term health of your pet's immune system.
Diet Changes Can Help Cats and Dogs With Autoimmune Disease
Poor digestion is an important factor with autoimmune disease. Inflammation in the digestive tract taxes your pet's immune system. The majority of your pet's immune system resides in the digestive tract, so when a pet poorly digests food or eats food that creates inflammation, this triggers an autoimmune attack. If your dog or cat has an autoimmune disease, dietary changes are essential, as certain food allergens can worsen inflammation. Many pet owners might not realize that many foods (even the highest quality, grain-free, premium diets) are contributing to the autoimmune conditions. Dry food, for example, is made with starchy carbohydrates which convert to sugar. Feeding your pet the wrong diet can weaken their immune system, triggering an autoimmune reaction. It can be upsetting to realize that most foods contain ingredients that are worsening your pet's condition, but there is hope, as once the offending foods are eliminated, the inflammation can greatly subside. When ordering supplements, please be sure to include the food you are feeding your pet along with health issues directly on the order form at checkout. We will include FREE diet suggestions on the packing slip that comes with your order.
Need Help? Please email us at Support@AskAriel.com
We understand how challenging autoimmune disease can be for you and your pets. We are here to help. If you need information about a particular pet health condition and the products that can help, please email us for assistance. We do ask for your understanding however, as we cannot provide any consultative advice due to veterinary regulations that require a physical exam.