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Not all itchy dogs are itchy because of adverse food reactions and while a healthy gut is important for most aspects of health (environmental allergies included), there are several very easy ways to manage allergy symptoms.
Histamine is a vasoactive amine. A vasoactive amine is a substance containing amino groups that that acts on blood vessels. Histamine is released by certain cells in response to allergies- such as those that come around in the spring time.
Histamine can be made by the body and can be provided in food. It provides many functions inside the body.
Use Caution With High Histamine Foods
Histamine is used and made by the body for many functions. It is used in immune response and is something we often associate with allergies (think antihistamines). Food can be a potent carrier of additional histamine, Think of it this way, dogs have a histamine bucket. When histamine levels remain in the bucket, symptoms do not present. When histamine overflows out of the bucket, we see symptoms.
Food can be a major contributing source of histamine. Histamine is broken in the gut through gut bacteria but also through enzymes. A commonly fed food high in histamine is canned sardines or really any canned fish. A dog in the winter time with no environmental allergies may be able to handle the histamine load from sardines, but when battling allergies, the histamine from the sardines can cause the histamine bucket to overflow. Opt for a high quality fish oil or fresh cooked fish- unless you are raw savvy and know how to feed raw fish. Remember that fish will still fall under the category of a histamine liberator, but these essential fatty acids still deserve a place in the diet.
Other foods high in histamine include fermented foods (yes, fermented veggies :( ), aged foods (think cheese), and deli meats.
Foods That Are Histamine Liberators
Nuts, some spices, strawberries, pineapple, citrus fruits, legumes, and bananas all contain histamine liberators.
While the concept of histamine liberators (causing cells to release histamine) is less scientific, it is certainly a "may help, won't hurt" approach.
Store Food Correctly
Cooked food that sit in the fridge for prolonged periods of time will see a dramatic rise in histamine. Raw foods do not see this level of histamine. Regardless of the diet you are feeding, keep food frozen for as long as possible before thawing and feeding it.
DAO is an enzyme that breaks down histamine in the gut. DAO can be found in kidneys. I am currently in contact with a nutrition scientist to learn more about the potential use of kidneys as a dietary addition to support histamine breakdown in the gut. Besides DAO, kidneys are a fabulous source of Selenium- a nutrient critical for the antioxidant system in dogs and humans.
I hope this was helpful! There are many other ways to address the issue- but these are easy peasy ones that anybody can implement!