Is there anything worse than an itch that you can’t scratch or that won’t go away? No matter the cause of the itch, (i.e., bug bites, allergies, dry skin, chemicals, etc.) having a persistent itch is a pain in the behind. What about your pooch? If they don’t stop scratching, licking or chewing on themselves, they’re probably in the same boat.
Dogs scratch themselves in many different ways. From licking, scooting, rolling on the ground, crawling on their bellies, or chewing- these are all ways that dogs could be dealing with a difficult itching problem. But what can cause this itchiness in the first place?
Allergies are one of the leading causes of itchy skin in both dogs and humans. There are three major allergy categories for dogs: Environmental (weed, dust, pollen, trees, grass, etc.), Bug bites or infestations (fleas, ticks, etc.), and food allergies.
Allergic reactions tend to affect dogs in specific areas. Mostly around their ears, paws, groin, and rear ends. If a dog contracts an autoimmune skin disease or skin infection, they could be itchy anywhere. Vet experts suggest to keep an eye out for any unnecessary amounts of scratching behavior and take your pooch to the vet right away if you believe something to be genuinely amiss.
Let me be clear: Occasional or mild itching is fine, but if combined with other symptoms or if it doesn’t seem to clear up or it gets worse, then it can be more of a serious issue. If the dog is breaking its skin from scratching too much, then it can lead to infection. Ask your vet to recommend you to a veterinary dermatologist.
Here are some home remedies to help alleviate itching before you spend your hard-earned money on a vet dermatologist. A word of caution, however, if the treatments listed don’t work or if condition worsens, seek immediate professional help.
1) Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The great thing about Omega-3 fatty acids is that they can help reduce inflammation as well as help your dog with dry skin. They are easy to find and readily available and have multiple administration types. You can apply omega-3 topically like you would flea medication, give them pills orally, or spray immediately on the affected area.
2) Sweet Potato and Fish Diet
Switching your dog’s diet to a fish and sweet potato-based one could help your itchy dog. Fish is recommended because most dogs with food allergies are allergic to protein compounds that are more commonly found in dog foods such as beef, turkey or chicken. Another perk of a fish based diet is a healthy dose of the Omega-3 fatty acids mentioned above with no extra effort!
Gluten and wheat sensitivities are increasing in dogs at a steady rate. To avoid this issue, sweet potatoes provide the needed carbs into your pooch’s diet but without the wheat that could potentially cause an allergic reaction. Try finding a dog food that has fish and sweet potatoes as primary ingredients as they have more nutrients included in the food that would be difficult to get with a home-cooked diet. (As a bonus, it won’t add another item on your to-do list!)
If you’ve ever had chicken pox, this one should sound familiar. For your canine friend’s irritated skin, you can grind plain oatmeal into a fine paste with water and spread onto their skin. The oatmeal draws out heat and cools that red hot skin down. It’s also non-toxic, so there’s no worry if your pet licks it off. Dog shampoo with oatmeal is a great alternative as well. Regularly bathing your pet with oatmeal shampoo has the extra perk of removing allergens from the fur and skin like pollen or mold.
4) Calendula Flower, Lavender, & Tea Tree oils
Lavender, Calendula, and tea tree are all packed with anti-inflammatory properties and can quickly relieve that itchy feeling. A word of caution: tea tree can be toxic if ingested. Be sure to dilute it before use and start with a small amount on a small surface to make sure that your dog doesn’t have an adverse reaction and go from there. Consult your vet on specific uses and dosages for any essential oils that you use.
5) Aloe Vera
Your sunburn’s best friend can also be used to treat your dog’s skin irritations topically. It naturally cools the skin and removes redness. Pro-tip: make sure the aloe vera lotion does NOT contain alcohol because it can burn the skin. Fresh from the plant is best if you have some at home or the grocery store. Store bought minus the alcohol will work as an alternative.
Again, please use your best judgment with any of these remedies. If the symptoms worsen, stop treatment immediately and see your vet.