Itchy Dog? Here are the Top 10 Tips for Itch in Dogs Before the Vet is Called!
OK your dog is itching like crazy. We get this all the time. Here’s 10 great tips for an itchy dog for you to consider before a trip to the vets for the powerful, synthetic, expensive, not harm-free but lets face it often effective, drugs which target the symptoms but rarely the cause.
1. Check for Parasites (Fleas etc) and treat naturally
Most people reading this are past this point but, just to reiterate, fleas, mites, sand flies etc. can be really itchy. We do not recommend nasty chemical preventatives for fleas, ticks or worms, for all the reasons in those articles (unless you walk in an area very prone to ticks). Parasite prevention makes as much sense as head lice prevention in humans. If they get an issue, treat it then. As the saying goes, rather the critter than the chemicals used to prevent them. If you do have an issue then a good dust in DeNeem will sort it out. It kills all sorts of parasites (fleas, mites, ticks). It is an entirely natural product made up of the crushed remains of marine organisms, almost like talc. It works mechanically, puncturing the bug and then dehydrating it. It contains no chemicals, so it is safe for you and your pet.
2. Address the Food
As with recurring skin and gut conditions, arthritis and any other condition caused by inflammation, the number one thing that needs to be done before putting stuff in or on them is addressing what needs to be taken out. Everyone wants the quick fix, “what can I put in to stop this happening”, but that’s just treating the symptoms without paying attention to the causes.
For example, consider someone with a pollen allergy. If pollen is blown in their face every day, then they will continue to have itchy eyes and they will need to have steroids daily and to get the immune system to quit complaining. It’s the same with food allergy. General itchiness, including nibbling at the toes, scratching with the paw, tearing the skin away at some points, weeping eyes, sore ears, are all top symptoms of food allergies in dogs. The number one cause of food sensitivity in dogs is wheat but when studies show most single protein dry diets specifically for skin issues in pets are contaminated with all sorts of meat protein, most often wheat gluten, we strongly advise a move to a simple, fresh diet to eliminate food as a cause.
Asides wheat there are other food causes of allergy and thus itch in dogs, including:
- Wheat: Most dry food, dental sticks, many dog treats, bread, pasta.
- Dairy: Except for goat dairy
- Carbohydrates: From cereals, potatoes, rice
- Sugar: This means all fruit and any white foods (cereal, rice, potatoes etc)
- Cooked meat: Most importantly chicken and beef.
Essentially this means cut out dry food and the majority of pet store treats. In our experience, a simple exclusion diet devoid of these food groups and using fresh food alleviates 70-80% of itch in dogs.
3. Add Natural Anti-Inflammatory Additions To Their Food
An excellent anti-inflammatory addition is cod liver oil (much better than fish oil) as it is great for cooling itchy skin. Studies show fish oil is effective at reducing the steroid need of dogs suffering atopy. This should always be given to dogs suffering atopy and itch in general. Dose according to body size. Another great addition is Calendula which is possibly the strongest natural anti-inflammatory out there for skin (applied topically), available in your local health store. You could try making your own Golden Turmeric Paste for dogs too. A wonderfully effective and easy-to-make treatment this with a lot of solid science behind its active ingredients. Simply add it to the food.
4. Add ProBiotics to help Itch in Dogs
We are only now starting to realise how important the life in our guts actually is to us. They are central to the efficient running of our immune system. There are more signals coming from your gut than there is from your brain. We humans know we should be treating the life in there (around 2 pounds of them!) as a delicate garden. We need to feed them (prebiotics, which is the good food we eat) and not treat them too badly with nasty additions like too much salt or food preservatives (which not only kill the bugs in the food but those resident in your intestines too) as well as antibiotics, which decimates them.
Now look at dogs. Most are, somewhat unfortunately, living on dry food. This is a food substrate so heavily preserved with chemicals that even fungus won’t grow on it after years. All their treats contain anti-life too. Not a single bit of fresh food. Is it any wonder their poor guts act up. After moving to a fresh, biologically appropriate, raw food diet for dogs, the gut flora can still be in an unhappy state. Using probiotics at this point is a very good idea. But even if they have to stay eating dry food, for whatever reason, you really should be thinking about canine probiotics.
A note on probiotics at this point. Everyone thinks they can add in kefir and probiotic yoghurt to their dogs diet to add “good life” to their back passages but these are probiotics for humans, not dogs. What’s more, the dogs’ gut is highly acidic, studies show not a whole lot of life passed through it (an adaption to scavenging old meat and buried bones, it wouldn’t do to get Salmonella etc). The very best canine probiotics are not only designed with dogs in mind but come in time-release capsules that only open in the intestines, releasing all the good stuff in the right quantities and the right place. That’s why I recommend HyperBiotics. Probably cheapest to pick them up on Amazon. Check out those reviews, many of which mention specifically it has helped with itch.
If your dog has some form of seasonal pollen allergy (most prevalent between May-September) then human anti-histamines could take the edge off of it. Zirtec or Piriton for humans works great in dogs and is much cheaper. Remember to dose according to body size. Give it a go. If it doesn’t have a noticeable effect within days, drop it.
6. Great Home Made Spray for That Itchy Dog
Find out how to make a fantastic anti-itch spray made from apple cider vinegar and green tea. It’s easy to make, keeps in the fridge and really works. No need for expensive shop sprays. You can even turn this brilliant homemade anti-itch spray into a shampoo by mixing it with some pure, organic castille liquid soap (available in all healthy stores). Mix in the ratio 1 for 1! It’s a great bandage that might help alleviate some of his suffering while you set about finding the cause of his issues.
7. Seasonal Allergies can be Helped with a Simple Wipe of the Face or Better Still a Bath with Soa+ Itch Be Gone……
While the majority of itchiness in dogs is a result of food sensitivity, seasonal allergy can be a problem. Bathing the dog after every walk is preferable but can be very time consuming and not always possible. Thankfully, many dog owners have reported success in reducing problems from contact allergens, by wiping nosey faces down after a walk with a wet towel (maybe put some of the anti-itch spray on it) and bathing the feet (add anti-itch spray to this). Or simply add some green tea and chamomile tea bags to the water.
You can always go one better with an actual cooling bath. There are a million products offered to you at this point that can help fight itch. Stick to the very natural ones. Of all of them, I have seen the most success with SOA ITCH Be Gone soap bar. This was originally used in horse circles but it is also used in dogs. Again you can find it on Amazon easiest. Reviews are good but as there are so many causes of itch people think it’s a cure. They keep on feeding wheat-based dry food and putting lots of chemicals in and on their dog and want a bit of soap to treat the symptoms as they come up. No soap will do that.
8. Has Your Dog Got a Yeast Infection?!
Dogs suffer yeast blooms just like humans. Yeast infections often pop up in warm and moist areas such ear flaps, between well-licked toes or vaginal areas. You’ll know it’s yeast by the smell which is a horrible, rank cheesy smell. Lovely!
Yeast needs sugar to grow. Carnivores don’t eat carbs and yet dry food is 50-65% carbs (sugar). Thus step 1 in treating or at least starving a yeast infection in your dog is to remove carb-based dry food, cereal-based pet store treats and any junk food products as a whole. Remove all fruit and sweet veg likes carrots and potatoes. Keep it fresh meat and a little veg for awhile.
You can help redress the pH balance of your dog’s skin (which is chiefly to blame for the issue) by giving your dog Grapefruit Seed Extract (1-2 pills a day depending on severity). GSE is among the most bitter tastes on the planet so do your best to avoid the dog chewing it. Offer him a tablet secreted in a piece of meat and another treat straight away afterwards so he swallows quickly!
A capful of apple cider vinegar in food (not water) can work too for yeast also but as it too is very bitter it may put them off their grub.
To clean yeast from affected ears or paws make up a cup of 50% olive oil and 50% apple cider vinegar. Vinegar kills yeast by sucking water out of it. Heat your mixture gently. Use cotton swabs. Wipe the affected ear and throw away. Do not use twice or in different areas as you could be spreading the issue.
More on yeast in dogs here.
9. Try Some Salt Therapy…
Recently I’ve had some success recommending salt therapy. It’s a really simple process where you offer the dog 4 different waters, 3 of which contain a little high-quality salt, the fourth is plain, distilled water. You allow the dog to choose. It’s a fascinating process, based on an unbalance of electrolytes, your dog will sniff out what he needs. There’s been a lot of good news stories with it. You’ve nothing to lose by trying it yourself! More here on our Facebook page!
10. Bathe them in Oats or Use an Oat Poultice
An oldie, but goodie, is an oatmeal bath. Oats contain skin soothing elements that have been used the world over for their skin salving properties and the science is strongly behind their anti-itchy qualities. Use on it’s own or make a thick stodgy poultice and place it on the affected area for as long as they don’t lick it off. Rinse off lightly when done. Oats are good but there are other products you can use in the bath…
Itch in Dogs, Conclusion…
We cannot highlight enough how important that all itchy dogs (every dog in fact) should be moved to a fresh, biologically appropriate diet. That is your first step. All the rest is window dressing that should help alleviate their symptoms while you make the transition.