Finding Relief for an Itchy Dog

Anyone who has ever owned a dog has surely experienced scratching and itching at some point in their dog’s lifetime, since there are so many reasons that dogs can be itchy. It is not only annoying for people, but even more annoying – sometimes to the point of anxiety and self injury – to the dogs themselves. And, just like the many causes of dog itching and scratching, there are many kinds of itchy dog remedies that can be used to alleviate the symptoms and provide at least temporary relief.
To permanently reduce a dog’s itchiness, it is necessary to get to the root of the problem and find the reason there is a skin reaction happening. The basic, various causes of itchiness in dogs are: seasonal/environmental allergies, food allergies, contact allergies, mites/fleas, and reactions (to some kind of injection, bug bite, or sting). The last of these should be temporary, and simply relieving any itching until the problem subsides is usually all that is necessary. Mites and fleas should be diagnosed, treated, and completely removed before any itching will subside. Other causes will take some detective work to figure out whether the problem lies in the diet, the environment or elsewhere.
However, in all of these cases, itching can be managed – either temporarily or long-term – through a variety of methods. Naturally, in the cases where removing something from the dog’s diet or environment will take care of the problem that is the preferred method, but many times that can’t be done, considering over 70 percent of itchy dogs are itchy from inhaled, environmental allergies.
One of the main standbys for relief from scratching has been low doses of corticosteriods given orally, which reduces inflammation and reaction in the skin by quieting immune reactions. While it does work well, there are many drawbacks to the use of steroids. Increased appetite, thirst and urination can become problematic at home, heightening the chances for accidents and bladder infections. Additionally, for those dogs who seem to be on steroids non-stop, this is a serious risk to the endocrine system and, even though the doses are small, after months or years of use a dog can develop Cushings Disease, which is a much more serious problem to treat than the itching ever was.
Naturally and holistically speaking, there are many different itchy dog remedies that can be used to alleviate discomfort, allowing a better alternative to traditional medications. Home treatments such a cool Epsom salts bath, baths of apple cider vinegar and water (especially if the dog tends to be “yeasty”, or have frequently yeast-infected ears), oatmeal baths, and scrubs of baking soda and water to rub the especially itchy areas have all been known to help. Adding fish oil to the diet can sometimes help with a chronic, dry skin itch; it is good to add this to the diet regardless, for its anti-oxidant and other health properties.
Holistic preparations containing ingredients that reduce inflammation, redness and burning, and can naturally dull reactions in the skin, will all help in providing some relief. Articum, salvia, licorice root, chamomilla, arum triph and cina only name a few of the natural substances that can make a marked difference in the redness and reactions of sore, itchy skin. Many Chinese herbs have been used for the same. However, detoxifying the whole body is equally important for promoting skin health, cell repair, and boosting immune function. Ingredients such as Dandelion, horsetail, astragalus and echinacia, among others, should be included in a skin wellness and anti-itch plan.
Along with oral, systemic treatments, it is also recommended to treat the itch topically. There are many good topical itchy dog remedies like natural shampoos, conditioners and skin sprays which both alleviate itch, and serve as skin conditioners. Many contain colloidal oatmeal, known for its skin-soothing properties, essential and other oils like tea tree, peppermint and comfrey, and various herbal extracts to provide surface cooling, and reduction in the burning that keeps dog scratching.
Used together, many natural and holistic ingredients, preparations and itchy dog remedies can give relief for itching without the need for traditional medication. However, if any itchy dog seems to be getting worse, losing (more) hair or developing sores, pimples, pustules or there is any other indication of infection, he should be seen by a veterinarian since he will probably need antibiotics. As always, discuss any alternative therapies with a veterinarian to ensure against any contraindications or potential adverse reactions.