Consult your vet before starting any skin care regimen for your dog, and stop the treatment if your dog’s symptoms remain the same or worsen.
If your dog has itchy skin, they’re not alone. Itchy skin is one of the most common issues that bring dogs to the vet’s office. Whether it’s seasonal allergies, sensitive skin, or it simply seems to come out of nowhere, most dogs will occasionally experience some itchiness. Itchiness is often paired with dry, irritated skin and a miserable pooch. While a vet visit might be needed for severe itching, mild to moderate cases can likely be treated and solved on your own.
What Causes Itchy Skin in Dogs?
Many of the common causes of skin itchiness in dogs are environmental, like fleas or seasonal allergies. While true food allergies in dogs are fairly rare, changing your dog’s diet to a more nutritional one will help with allergies to other things. Once you’ve eliminated obvious causes, like fleas or other skin parasites, it’s time to consider other causes. Many environmental allergens can be controlled or eliminated. For pollen or mold sensitivities, try to time your walks when the pollen or mold count is at its lowest. Also, consider your home fragrances as a possible cause. Made from petrochemicals, these substances could be irritating your dog’s body.
While lifestyle changes, like giving up artificial fragrances, or changing the time of your walks, can be difficult, they also can be worth it if they help your dog with his itchy skin.
Occasional itchiness and some dry, flaky skin are nothing to be concerned about and can be addressed easily with home remedies. It’s when the discomfort becomes significant and consistent that you should be concerned and schedule a vet appointment.
How to Soothe Itchy Skin at Home
Maybe you’d like to try a few natural remedies before putting your dog on medication, or perhaps you’re going to experiment with using both medicine and natural remedies. Either way, your dog is lucky to have you as its parent! Here are a few natural remedies that may help your dog’s itchy skin.
1. Colloidal Oatmeal Baths
Colloidal oatmeal simply means very finely ground whole oat grains. It is not the same as finely ground oatmeal, because oatmeal is made from oats with the bran removed. You can buy colloidal oatmeal. Or you can grind whole oat grains yourself, although the final product won’t be as fine as a professionally ground colloidal oatmeal. But, you’ll still have to find and buy whole oat grains, so you might as well save yourself the extra DIY step and buy colloidal oatmeal.
Why should you care about colloidal oatmeal? The oat bran contains a variety of helpful compounds, including
Lipids (fats) such as unsaturated triglycerides help replenish the skin’s oils.
Beta Glucan is quite moisturizing.
Avenanthramides, which are an antioxidant that is unique to oats.
Saponins are cleansing agents, and oats contain a small percentage.
Mixing colloidal oatmeal with warm water and applying it to your dog’s skin in a bath, helps to clean the fur of trapped dust and other particles, and will soothe your dog’s itchy skin. Colloidal oatmeal is anti-inflammatory, and regular baths can help with itchiness. One great thing about this remedy is that it’s non-toxic, so it’s ok if your dog licks some of the oatmeal.
To make a colloidal oatmeal bath, use 1/3 cup oats for small dogs and ½ cup for large dogs, with extra for applying to the skin. You can also add 2 tablespoons of olive, coconut, or avocado oil and/or 1 cup of whole milk. Run a warm, but not hot bath, at least full enough that the water comes to the bottom of your dog’s stomach. Mix in your colloidal oats and any other ingredients you choose. Using a cup, pour the bathwater carefully all over your dog, focusing on the parts of their skin that are irritated. Gently rub some of the powdered oatmeal right over the itchy areas. Let your dog soak for 10 minutes. While you wait, massage and rub the oatmeal into your dog’s fur and skin. Rinse your dog thoroughly with warm water and towel off as usual.
If you don’t have colloidal oatmeal, but do have oatmeal, a regular oatmeal bath will still be very soothing.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
First off, a warning. Don’t use apple cider vinegar on broken skin. It will be extremely painful and make symptoms worse. Be sure to check your dog for broken skin before using apple cider vinegar.
That said, apple cider vinegar can work wonders. It is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal substance. Using a spray bottle, mix 50% apple cider vinegar and 50% water and spray your dog’s itchy spots with it. If your dog’s paws are especially irritated, you can use the same mixture and soak their paws for five minutes.
3. Coconut Oil
Unrefined coconut oil can be very soothing to a dog’s itchy skin. For itchiness related to eczema, allergies, skin infections, and bug bites, massage coconut oil into your dog’s skin. When selecting coconut oil, you want to go with a very high-quality oil to reap the most benefits. You’re looking for words like organic, unrefined, or virgin on the label. You can also mix coconut oil with your dog’s food as well since it is very nourishing, but as always with changes to your dog’s diet, it’s best to consult with your vet first.
4. Chamomile and Green Tea Soaks
Well known as anti-inflammatory agents for humans, these powerful herbs can make a soothing soak for your dog and its itchy skin. It’s very easy. Make a strong, large cup of green tea and chamomile by pouring boiling water over 2-3 tea bags of each plant. Steep until completely cooled or lukewarm. This will take about 20 minutes. Using your sink or your bathtub depending on the size of your dog, draw a warm to a lukewarm bath and add the tea. Using a cup, pour the water all over your dog and soak them for at least five minutes. You can use the cooled tea bags and place them on the itchier areas.
5. Change in Diet
Changing your pet’s diet can help with skin itchiness and allergies. Increasing your dog’s intake of key nutrients can help nourish the skin and bring some ease. Add the following nutrients to your dog’s diet to help stop itchy skin:
B vitamins are essential for energy production and healthy nerve cells.
Essential amino acids. These combined with B vitamins may help support skin cells.
Omega-3 fatty acids including EPA and DHA. These may have anti-inflammatory effects which can help soothe itchy skin.
Omega-6 fatty acids including gamma-linolenic acid may help support healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Antioxidants including vitamins C and E may help support the immune system and reduce skin-damaging free radicals.
Some dog food brands have sensitive skin and digestion dog food formulas with these nutrients. You can also look for a doggie supplement with these ingredients. Other foods to consider are fish-based foods with high amounts of essential fatty acids. Fish-based diets are also considered novel protein diets, which means a protein that your dog’s body is unfamiliar with. Many people swear by fish-based foods for dogs with itchy skin.
Consider Plant-Based Grooming Products
Many pet parents want the best, most natural treatment option for their pets. Pet Releaf offers a line of plant-based, CBD-infused grooming products, including shampoos for itchy skin. Another great option is Skin & Paw Releaf topical ointment, which can help soothe and calm down irritated skin.
CBD helps maintain the normal moisture content of skin and may offer support for animals with sensitive skin. CBD works with your dog’s nervous system to promote overall skin health. For dogs with irritated skin, CBD may help maintain healthy skin. When it comes to histamines, CBD may help maintain normal histamine levels in your dog. Histamines are part of the body’s allergic response. CBD may also be able to soothe itchy skin associated with seasonal allergies and may be able to offer support for seasonal skin allergies in general.