If your dog is constantly scratching and licking himself, your pet likely has an itchy and uncomfortable skin condition. Fortunately, dog owners have many options for preventing and treating this problem at home or with the vet's help. This article will discuss some of the easiest and most effective methods for preventing and relieving itching.
Why Does a Dog's Skin Become Itchy?
Dogs can get itchy skin for many reasons, ranging from allergies to parasites and skin infections. The reason for your dog's itchiness alters the treatment approach and methods for avoiding itching.
Below, we provide information on some of the most common causes, prevention strategies and treatments.
The most common origin of dog skin problems, allergies can be caused by anything from food to environmental factors. That said, there's a high likelihood your furry friend could be at risk of developing allergy symptoms.
Suppose you suspect that your dog's itchiness is due to environmental allergies, like pollen. In that case, you will need to identify the specific allergen causing problems and avoid exposing your dog to it as much as possible.
That typically means keeping your dog indoors more often, bathing them regularly and sometimes giving the animal allergy medications. Your dog may also need allergy shots or supplementations to their diet to support their overall health.
Another common cause of skin discomfort in dogs is parasites, such as fleas, mites or ticks. These parasites can cause intense itching and irritation that leads to secondary infections.
It's preferable to avoid parasites altogether with preventative measures, like flea treatments or collars. To help prevent infestations and adverse reactions, it also helps to ensure your pet is as healthy as possible with good nutrition and clean fur. That said, pet parents should make sure their dogs enjoy a balanced diet, plenty of exercise and regular grooming.
It's also good to take the animal to the vet for diagnosis and treatment if you notice parasites on your pet. Your vet may recommend a medicated shampoo or other treatments.
Bacterial or Yeast Infections
Is your pooch at risk of yeast infection? The current weather conditions with the high humidity favour the outgrowth of Malassezia as an opportunistic fungi, the major causative agent of yeast infection. Dogs with overlooked conditions, such as immunosuppression, overacting inflammation, stress, dysbiosis from medication, or skin irritation tend to be more susceptible to yeast infection. Some dog breeds are more prone to skin problems than others.
Why Is It Important to Prevent Itching?
Minimal scratching, licking and biting are normal grooming behaviours for canines, and mild itching typically isn't a reason for an immediate vet visit. However, if your dog excessively licks, scratches or bites areas of fur or skin, the pet may cause an infection to develop. They're also likely feeling very uncomfortable, and no pet owner wants that.
Prevention is 100% better than cure. Grooming, flea protection and other preventative measures, like supplements, can keep your dog's skin in top shape, eliminating the need for treatment. Supplements, for example, can create better gut health and flora and a stronger immune system, factors that can reduce the occurrence of skin conditions.
With hundreds of happy pet owners, EAC recommends In-sideout to reduce stress and optimize gut and immune health for all beloved dogs. Act today, treat your pooch “in”ner peace and “out”standing health.
What Can You Give a Dog for Severe Itching
While prevention is always preferable, itching generally requires some form of treatment once it occurs. Common treatments for severe itchiness in dogs include antihistamines, anti-fungal medications and topical creams. Be sure to check with your vet before giving a dog any medication.
In addition, we discuss a range of home remedies for itchy dogs below. You can try these methods to soothe your dog's skin and create a healthier coat.
Baking soda is a versatile household item used to treat itchy skin in dogs. Baking soda may reduce inflammation, which makes it a good option for fighting infections and dog itching.
To use baking soda to treat inflamed skin, simply create a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and warm water. Apply the mixture to your dog's skin, avoiding its eyes, nose, and mouth. Leave the mixture on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. It's usually helpful to repeat this treatment one to two times a day.
If your dog has dry skin, you can add coconut oil to the mixture as a moisturiser.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another natural treatment option for itchy skin in dogs. Apple cider vinegar may have natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agents, which makes it effective for treating and preventing some infections.
To use apple cider vinegar to relieve canine itching, stir together a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water. Put the combination in a spray bottle and spritz it onto irritated areas. It can also be used as a soak for your dog's paws.
Chamomile and Green Tea Baths
Herbal tea baths are an excellent route for many pet owners who like natural remedies. If your dog is scratching a lot, you can give them a chamomile and green tea bath to help soothe their skin.
Fill your bathtub or a container with warm water and steep several green tea bags and chamomile tea bags for between three and five minutes. Then, remove the tea bags and put your dog in the bath to soak for a minimum of five minutes. The warm, fragrant dog bath should calm the itching and ease your furry friend's discomfort.
Alternatively, you can treat specific spots on the dog's skin with the tea bag itself. Steep one tea bag and allow it to cool fully before applying it directly to the itchy or red skin.
An age-old remedy for skin in both humans and animals, oatmeal baths are a great way to help an itchy dog. The oatmeal benefits the skin, alleviating itching and reducing inflammation.
Add one cup of oatmeal to your dog's bathwater and mix it in well before letting the animal soak for at least 15 minutes. Dogs with thicker or longer hair should soak for 30 minutes or more.
Rinse the dog gently with warm water after the appropriate time has passed and dry their coat thoroughly with a clean towel or rag. Since oatmeal is non-toxic, it's a great way to treat excessive dog scratching and itching at home without using chemicals.
Aloe vera is a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and cool, soothing properties. You can buy aloe vera gel from your local chemist or health food shop or extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf yourself.
To extract the gel, cut off a small piece of an aloe vera leaf and slice it open. Scoop the gel from the plant with a spoon and apply it to your dog's skin. You can also add a little aloe vera gel to your dog's bathwater to comfort the dog, decreasing inflammation and lessening the itchiness.
Coconut oil is a natural moisturiser and anti-inflammatory agent that can be used to ease dog itching caused by insect bites, dry skin, allergies and yeast infections. It’s a common household item that’s widely available and often used for cooking.
To use coconut oil to treat irritated or raw skin, simply remove a small amount from the container with your fingers, hold it in your hands for a moment to warm it and massage a small amount of the oil into the affected area. Repeat the application once or twice a day as needed.
Coconut oil can also be fed to canines in their dog food. However, you should discuss feeding coconut oil to your pet with a vet. There are potential health risks involved when altering a pet's diet, and coconut oil may increase chances for cardiovascular disease when ingested. That said, it may not be appropriate for all animals.
Organic and virgin coconut oil without any additives is typically recommended for pets.
Many people find feeding plain yoghurt to a pet can have health benefits, including relief from irritation and itchiness caused by allergic reactions and rashes. Yoghurt is a natural probiotic that improves gut health, and it’s thought to contain anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can help in treating skin conditions.
To use yoghurt to treat itchy or painful skin conditions in dogs, simply add it into your dog’s daily feeding routine. Generally, it’s recommended to feed a small dog a teaspoon of plain yoghurt once a week. Big dogs may need two teaspoons.
Always use plain, unsweetened yoghurt, as sweetened yoghurts can contain sugar that aggravates your pet's skin problem instead of healing it.
Maintain A Healthy, Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is crucial for your pet’s overall fitness and happiness, including skin health. Dogs fed a diet high in processed foods and low in fresh foods are more likely to develop skin problems than dogs fed a balanced diet.
A balanced diet for dogs often includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. You should talk to your vet about what diet is best for your dog, as different dogs have different nutritional needs.
In general, however, a healthy diet helps keep a canine's skin and coat nourished and free from irritation and potential infection.
Other Tips for Calming a Dog's Itchy Skin
In addition to the above home remedies, you can do several other things to minimise your dog's itchiness while encouraging skin health.
Use Supplements to Support Overall Health
As mentioned above, supporting good gut health and a strong immune system is key to preventing skin problems. Dog owners can use products like EAC in-sideout Pet Formula, a nutraceutical supplement for dogs, cats and other small animals to encourage optimal gut health and foster good nutrition in their pets.
This supplement includes pre and probiotics that enhance the immune system, support better digestion and contribute to overall health.
Watch for Signs of Food Allergies
If your dog is experiencing skin discomfort on a regular basis and you’re unsure of the cause, it’s essential to monitor your dog’s diet for a food allergy.
A key part of battling skin conditions at home may be narrowing in on food allergies to eliminate offending ingredients from your pup's diet. Allergic reactions to food may cause excessive itching, vomiting and diarrhea, among other symptoms.
Add Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Your Pet’s Diet
Adding Omega-3 fatty acids to a dog's diet can also help treat itchiness. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are beneficial for both humans and animals and can improve skin health, among other things.
Many different Omega-3 fatty acids supplements are available for dogs. You should discuss the best Omega-3 supplement for your dog with a vet, as some supplements can interact with certain medications. In general, however, Omega-3 supplements are safe for most canines and can be a helpful addition to their diet if they are experiencing skin problems.
Keep Your Dog Inside During Allergy Season
Keeping your dog indoors during allergy season can help prevent him from developing or suffering from environmental allergies. Environmental allergies occur when a dog's immune system reacts to substances in its environment, such as pollen, dust and mould.
Common symptoms of environmental allergies in dogs include excessive itching, scratching, chewing, red skin and runny eyes.
Use Flea and Tick Prevention
Fleas and ticks can be a major nuisance for dogs, and they can also cause a great deal of irritation and itching. To keep your dog from getting fleas and ticks, it is critical to keep the pet indoors as much as possible during flea and tick season. You should also use a flea and tick prevention product, such as a topical treatment or collar, to stop your dog from getting these pests.
If your dog does end up with fleas or ticks, remove them as soon as possible. You can use a special comb. You should also talk to your vet about the best way to treat fleas and ticks, as some products can be toxic to dogs.
When to Call the Vet for Itchy Dogs
For sensitive skin or occasional or mild itching, veterinary intervention often isn't necessary. However, if your dog's itching is severe, and the animal is losing hair or has open sores, it's time to contact the vet.
An underlying medical problem may be causing the itching, such as an environmental or food allergy, parasites or a fungal infection. These problems likely require treatment you can't provide at home. A vet can prescribe necessary medications or other therapies.
Making your dog comfortable and happy is the top priority. With proper care and attention, most skin problems can be controlled or cured successfully, improving health and quality of life.