Treating Autoimmune Disease In Dogs & Cats
Autoimmune diseases are one of the most misunderstood conditions in veterinary medicine. Pets may have unusual, puzzling symptoms that can come and go. There may be a period of wellness until a trigger prompts an attack. Autoimmune diseases are much more common than you might think. Did you know that most thyroid conditions in pets (hypo in dogs, hyper in cats) are autoimmune? While autoimmune diseases are tricky and many times, hard to diagnose, they are characterized by a great deal of inflammation and much of it is exacerbated by diet, yeast, exposure to viruses and additional stressors.
Conventional veterinary treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications will provide temporary relief of the symptoms but often does not address one of the primary root causes - gut health. Most often, an imbalanced microbiome with intestinal inflammation is triggering the flare-ups. This is because the majority of your pet's immune system resides in the intestinal tract. Inside the intestinal tract is a "microbiome" - a colony of organisms such as yeast, friendly bacteria, bad bacteria and fungi that must live in balance. Using natural treatments to support your pet's gut health and overall wellness, along with conventional treatments prescribed by your veterinarian can yield the best long-term results.
The Best Autoimmune Disease Holistic Treatments For Cats & Dogs
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 conditions 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. The goal of our autoimmune protocol is to rebalance and calm the already over-stimulated immune response. Our natural remedies for autoimmune disease can be used along with conventional veterinary treatments such as steroids and antibiotics.
Immune Support Kit - An effective, easy-to-use home remedy for dogs and cats with autoimmune conditions. Contains three tasteless, natural remedies to deliver fast relief for your pet's autoimmune symptoms. 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. The items in the Immune Support Kit can also be purchased individually.
NOT Drops - 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 Drops - 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 Support - Silver 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 and natural.
Soothing Digestive Relief - This formula calms and soothes the digestive tract. It contains scientifically proven ingredients, such as papaya leaf and marshmallow root, to protect and soothe the mucosal membrane in the stomach and digestive tract. Works best when used with Power Probiotic.
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.
What Is An Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune disease is an immune system in crisis. 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. In other words, the pet's immune system attacks it's own healthy cells mistaking them as foreign invaders.
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 food allergens, excessive carbohydrates, environmental chemicals, stress, exposure to viruses and fungi). Almost always, there is a "gut connection" and treating the imbalance in your pet's microbiome (the colony of micro-organisms in their intestinal tract) is a good first step.
Triggers Of Autoimmune Disease
Triggers that prompt autoimmune symptoms in cats and dogs often include:
- Intestinal Dysbiosis (Gut-related issues)
- High Carbohydrate Diets
- Food Allergies
- Environmental Allergens
- Exposure To Viruses
- Yeast Or Mold
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:
Pillow Paw In Cats (Plasma Cell Pododermatitis)
Pillow Foot or Pillow 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.
"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, NOT, QUENT, ProAller, Soothing Digestive and later tried Amazing Omegas and 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, Maryland
Feline Stomatitis is an inflammatory condition that causes painful sores to form on the lips, gums and inside of the cat's mouth. It is a progressive autoimmune disease where the cat forms antibodies to its own tissues and attacks itself. In the early stages, stomatitis may appear to be dental disease or gingivitis. The most common symptoms of stomatitis may include:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Red, inflamed gums
- Mouth sores or ulcers
- Cat not wanting to eat (anorexia)
- Bleeding from gums or mouth
- Plaque and tartar accumulation
Lupus In Dogs
There are two forms of lupus in dogs:
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) is the most common form of lupus and mainly affects the basal cell layer of the skin. 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.
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.
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. Diet is especially important as cat owners could be 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)
Hypothyroidism 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 levels can wreak havoc on all of the organ systems. 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).
Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)
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.
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.
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 due to cracked or ulcerated skin.
Feline Rodent Ulcers (Eosinophilic Granuloma)
Cats can also get inflamed 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. The ulcers can be very painful and hinder a cat's ability to eat. They are commonly caused by an autoimmune reaction but can be allergy or genetic based.
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.
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.