Your dog is your best friend. They’ve stuck with you through good days and bad. You love them, and they love you, and they rely on you for food, shelter, and care.
So, if your dog has itchy skin that just will not go away, you undoubtedly want to do whatever it takes to make them feel better again!
But what happens if regularly washing and brushing your dog just isn’t enough to stop the itching? It may be time for you to break out your detective hat.
You need a dog itchy skin remedy, but what should you get? Are there home cures or do you need a vet? Why is this even happening to your dog?
Here we discuss all that and more, so read on to find a cure to your dog’s itchy skin!
What is Dog Itchy Skin?
If your dog is scratching, biting, or licking their skin more than usual, they may have what veterinarians call pruritus – an unpleasant feeling that causes the dog to feel an urge to scratch themselves.
Itchy skin for a dog is a symptom of another problem, not a specific disease. The dog may be itching in a specific area of the body, such as the paws, ears, groin area, or rear ends. Otherwise, the itching may be in general all over the skin.
It’s also possible that the initial cause of the itchy skin has left by the time the dog begins itching. Of course, that can mislead you in your diagnosis.
Causes of Dog Itchy Skin
Dry, itchy skin on dogs can have multiple causes. Common reasons for itching include parasites and infections.
If you and your veterinarian can’t find any traces of mites or fleas, then you can rule out parasites.
Infectious skin diseases, such as bacterial and fungal infections, feature excessive rubbing and licking of the feet and face, and are often accompanied by fluid discharge, odor, scaling, and hair loss in dogs.
A vet may prescribe a course of antibiotics if they suspect an infection is the cause of your dog’s itchiness.
However, if none of these symptoms are evident, or if removing the parasites and taking antibiotics does not stop the itching, then there are other causes to consider and fight.
Allergies can lead to itching for dogs, just like they cause itching in humans.
Your dog may be having an allergic response to an insect bite, a kind of food, or allergens in the environment such as mold, dust, or pollen.
If your dog itches only during a certain time of year, they likely have a seasonal allergy. If the itching occurs regardless of the time of year, then an environmental or food allergen may be the culprit.
Your dog’s veterinarian can help you isolate the allergen through diet trials and other kinds of allergy tests.
Even though shampoos are supposed to keep your dog clean and healthy, sometimes your dog’s immune system can overreact to a protein within the shampoo, mistaking that protein for an intruder.
Therefore, the wrong shampoo can contain many ingredients that cause your dog’s skin to become irritated and itchy.
Chemicals and compounds in dog shampoos that can cause irritation include preservatives like benzyl alcohol and DMDM hydantoin, the antidandruff ingredient coal tar, colorants, and emulsifiers like sorbitan palmitate.
Shampoos may also contain typical allergens for dogs, such as fragrances, cetyl alcohol, botanicals, lanolin, limonene, petrolatum, propylene glycol, and stearyl alcohol.
When purchasing a new shampoo, or if you think that a current shampoo may be causing your dog’s itchy skin, be sure to check the ingredients list for typical irritants and allergens.
Bald patches, hives, swelling of the face, and skin rashes can be other signs that your dog’s shampoo is causing their itchy skin.
If you are concerned that your pet is having an allergic reaction to their shampoo, because they are showing signs of anaphylactic shock, take them to the vet immediately.
Multiple shampoos on the market can help relieve allergy symptoms such as itching. These include those with glycoproteins to soothe inflammation, hypoallergenic shampoos designed to be easier on the skin, and medicated shampoos which include antihistamines and corticosteroids to reduce swelling and itching.
With all of these products, be careful that your dog does not ingest them, as they are not meant to be eaten. Antihistamines, in particular, have a highly inconsistent success rate in treating itching for dogs.
Shampoos and ointments containing basil, chamomile, lavender, oregano, peppermint, and rosemary are a good bet!
Shampoos with oatmeal as an ingredient are also safe for your pet to lick off their fur, because it is a non-toxic substance.
When to See the Vet
All dogs scratch themselves sometimes, so mild or occasional itching is not necessarily a cause for alarm.
However, if your dog is chronically itching – that is, itching all the time, to the point of being unable to sleep at night, or itching until they break their own skin – then you should contact your veterinarian.
This is abnormal behavior and should be fixed immediately, as it will only continue and may result in other, more serious conditions.
Signs of infection should also not be taken lightly. These can include lack of appetite, itching skin that appears to be turning black, or a sudden bout of fever and shivering.
If you suspect that your dog has an infection, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The vet can conduct tests to discover the cause of your dog’s itchy skin and to help you figure out the best way to treat them.
Vets can recommend over-the-counter medicines to ease your dog’s symptoms, prescribe antibiotics to combat any infections that have sneaked into your dog’s skin, and they can also advise you on all of the home remedies that you are going to learn about here next.
This video goes into a bit more detail on dogs with itchy skin.
Home Remedies for Dog Itchy Skin
It may be tempting to run to the store and pick up the most expensive product that promises to fix your dog’s itchy skin. Any cost is worth it for your beloved pet, right?
But there are other, more natural ways to help cure your dog’s skin. From the antioxidants found in olive oil to the valuable bacteria found in probiotic yogurt, your kitchen may already contain the tools to help your dog itch less and to feel more comfortable again.
If you want help finding a dog itchy skin home remedy, read on for potential solutions!
Yes, you read that correctly – coconut oil is not only good for human skin, but also for dogs!
Particular companies even offer specific brands of dog itchy skin coconut oil, but the kind that you use for yourself will work just as well.
Coconut oil can be applied topically to the skin, where it serves as a moisturizer to soothe dry skin and relieve the urge to itch.
The oil can also be given to your dog orally, in which case it will help boost your dog’s immune system. This is because coconut oil contains a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid, which is commonly found in the milk of mammalian mothers and assists the immune systems of their children.
Be sure to start out with small doses, like you should whenever you feed your dog something new – coconut oil is tasty and a dog may eat too much at once! Instead, consider drizzling a bit over your dog’s food.
Essential Oils for Dog Itchy Skin
Many essential oils contain a wide variety of healing properties, with powerful compounds that can help reduce inflammation, fight infections, and even affect the memory of humans.
However, not all essential oils are good for other animals. Be sure to double-check with your veterinarian before using an essential oil to treat your dog’s itchy skin.
You may do more harm than good – but choosing the right varieties will give your pup the relief they need.
The following essential oils are known to be safe for short-term first aid use on dogs:
- Lavender, in its pure or diluted forms, can help allergies, burns, and ulcers.
- Cardamom, a diuretic, is anti-bacterial and can normalize appetite.
- Fennel balances your dog’s glands and helps break up toxins and fluid in tissue.
- Helichrysum is an anti-bacterial oil that helps repair nerves and regenerates skin.
- Frankincense increases blood supply to the brain and boosts the immune system.
- Spearmint, when diluted, is helpful for many kinds of gastrointestinal issues.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has long been used as a home remedy for humans, and it also has benefits for your dog! This vinegar is made of apple juice and yeast, and is useful for cooking as well as treating sore throats.
For your dog, apple cider vinegar can help give them relief for their itchy skin. If you mix apple cider vinegar together with water, then use a sponge or spray bottle to apply the 50-50 mixture to your dog’s skin daily, their itching should go away.
If your dog has itchy paws, you can soak the paws in this mixture to additionally help with the itching. Be careful not to get the vinegar mixture into any wounds or raw skin, because it will sting them!
Best Dog Food for Itchy Skin
Sometimes you can find the cause of your dog’s itchy skin in their diet! Vets recommend that dogs eat foods which are high in protein and low in processed carbohydrates.
If your dog has an inflamed gastrointestinal system, supplements won’t help stop their itching until that inflammation is taken care of.
Dogs that eat whole foods, such as dog foods that list meat, poultry, or fish as the first ingredient, tend to itch less than dogs who eat foods with ingredients that are labeled as “byproducts” and “meals.”
Fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential when it comes to reducing inflammation in the skin of dogs.
Some dog foods are explicitly hypoallergenic, which means they avoid using ingredients known to provoke an allergic reaction in some dogs. These ingredients can include soy, yeast, wheat, corn, and even beef.
Dogs react to these ingredients because they are too often exposed to them since they’re in so many different kinds of food.
Novel ingredients, such as sweet potato, are less likely to cause allergic reactions because the dog’s body has not been exposed to them enough to have developed sensitivities.
When you buy new dog food, check the ingredients list to see what potential – and overly common – allergens may be in it! You can prevent a lot of hassle and discomfort for your dog with just a little reading.
Search for foods with easily-digestible carbohydrates like oatmeal, or less common protein sources such as fish.
Foods with omega acids and vitamins like vitamins C and E on their ingredients list are also a good bet for your dog.
This video shows an example of a nother home remedy for dog itchy skin.
Dog Supplements for Itchy Skin
In addition to the remedies listed and explained so far, some veterinarians recommend natural supplements that can help relieve your dog’s chronic itching.
Fish oil, for example, contains Omega-3 fats which reduce inflammation, therefore lessening the intensity of allergic reactions – particularly reactions to environmental triggers.
Fish oil tablets with low flavor and low odor are best for your dog, especially since you can add the liquid oil directly to your dog’s moist food by piercing the fish oil capsule for easier consumption.
Digestive enzyme supplements are also recommended by veterinarians for treating itchy skin in dogs. These enzymes help your dog’s digestive system break down protein, starch, fat, and fiber, and it comes in a powder that can be directly sprinkled onto your pet’s food.
Another supplement, quercetin, is a plant-based flavonoid colloquially known as “Nature’s Benadryl” for how well it helps dogs recover from environmental allergens.
Quercetin works particularly well when combined with bromelain, which can be found in pineapple.
Now you are well-equipped to find a cure for your dog’s chronically itchy skin. Go on and make man’s best friend comfortable and happy once more!
What else do you recommend to help dog itchy skin?