It's heartbreaking to watch our pets suffer with itchy skin, especially if they scratch until they bleed. Various causes, including allergies, parasites and nutritional deficiencies, can irritate dogs' skin. Simple remedies and over-the-counter products can offer relief. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Feeding your dog a balanced diet helps your pet maintain healthy skin and fur. Low-end dog foods typically lack nutrients, contain artificial ingredients and use a lot of filler. Try feeding your dog a premium pet food brand that contains natural ingredients to relieve skin irritation. Many pet owners find that feeding dogs a hypoallergenic diet helps reduce inflammation caused by food allergies.
Bathing your dog with a soothing shampoo can relieve mild skin irritations and minimize your pet's discomfort. Look for shampoos especially formulated to combat irritated skin or itchiness. These soothing shampoos often contain oatmeal, tea tree oil or aloe vera as ingredients. Use shampoos made specifically for canines because human shampoos often irritate the skin on other species. Avoid overbathing your dog because shampoos often strip away the natural oils from the skin, resulting in dry, itchy patches. Make sure that you rinse your dog thoroughly. Shampoo residue can cause skin irritation.
Brush your dog every day with a soft-bristled brush. Brushing your dog's fur stimulates the production and distribution of natural oils. It also helps to loosen any flaky skin, which can relieve irritation and itching. As a bonus, daily brushing sessions help you form strong bonds with your dog.
Several natural remedies can help relieve your dog's irritated skin. Dogs lick themselves frequently, so only use topical solutions safe for dogs to ingest. The Partnership for Animal Welfare suggests dipping a cotton ball into milk of magnesia, organic apple cider vinegar or witch hazel and dabbing it directly onto the irritated area. Repeat this process several times a day until your dog stops scratching. Rubbing coconut oil on the affected areas also can relieve irritation. Aloe vera works on dogs as well as people. Rub gel directly on the hot spot or dilute some gel with water, pour it into a clean spray bottle and generously spritz the affected area.
Boosting your dog's immune system with healthy supplements can help prevent and treat conditions that cause skin irritation. Start treating your dog's irritated skin from the inside out by adding flaxseed oil or linseed oil to his food or by giving him a dietary supplement that contains essential fatty acids. Smaller dogs typically benefit from 1/2 teaspoon of oil, while larger breeds need about 1 tablespoon of oil. Vitamin E supplements also improve topical irritation in dogs by promoting the production of natural oils so crucial to healthy skin.
If your dog's skin irritation persists after using home remedies, it is time to visit your veterinarian. Have your vet examine your pet for any fur or skin abnormalities that might be causing the irritation. Your vet might decide to test for food and environmental allergies or examine a skin scraping under a microscope in search of parasites. Depending on what your vet discovers, your dog might be prescribed antihistamines, antifungal medications, corticosteroids, antibiotics or anti-itching medications.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.