Expensive clinic visits and high vet bills – not to mention all those costly allergy medications your vet can prescribe – may be the reason why you put off taking your itchy, allergic pooch to the doctor. The constant itching and scratching can lead to hair loss, trauma, and skin infections…and, as loving pet parents, we don’t want to see our fur babies suffer.
Here are 16 all-natural, inexpensive (or free) remedies available to you, some of them as close as your pantry or refrigerator.
Disclaimer: This is not meant to replace the advice of your veterinarian. These are tips that have worked for Rocky's dogs.
Vitamin E will work on your dog’s dry skin just like it works on your wrinkles. I like to break open a capsule and rub the oil directly on my dog’s dry, itchy areas. Not only does the oil feel good to her, but also the massage action warms her muscles and helps the Vitamin E penetrate faster to problem areas.
Yogurt Feeding your dog plain, low-fat yogurt keeps the good bacteria in your dog’s intestines in balance and helps keep yeast infections at bay. A little bit of yogurt in your pet’s diet is not only a healthy treat, but can boost the immune system so that skin and ear yeast infections can’t take hold. When my itchy dog was a puppy, I would give her a teaspoon of yogurt daily to help build immunity and prevent diarrhea. Alternative- Feed your dog a grain-free food with probiotics. We recommend the one from Nulo
Chamomile tea & Herbal Tea soaks, chilled in the refrigerator, can alleviate any minor skin irritations when sprayed on sensitive, itchy spots. The chilled tea kills yeast and bacteria on the skin and relieves inflammation. When my itchy dog starts gnawing on her paws, I like to either spray them with the chamomile or just have her soak her paws in a small tub of the cold tea. Warm chamomile tea bags can soothe itchy, irritated eyes for both you and your dog. You can also try green tea and calendula. Read more about preparing foot baths
Ground oatmeal poured into a bath or a shampoo, is an age-old remedy for itching, inflamed skin. You can either use the baby oatmeal cereal found at your local grocery store or grind it yourself in your food processor or coffee grinder. Your dog will love sitting in a warm bath containing oatmeal because it brings immediate relief to irritated area. Alternative- buy colloidal oatmeal shampoo and conditioner all ready mixed and ready to go.
Exercise. Believe it or not, exercise is one of the best ways to get a dog to forget about their itchy skin. When they're playing and romping about, their mind is distracted and they don't have time to worry about their itchy skin. So, go out on walks, let your dog out more to play, go to the dog park go on walks.
No time for long walks? hire a dog walker. It's easy. If you have a phone, download an app like Rover and you can hook up with a dog walker. But, for your own peace of mind, get a GPS tracker for your dog, that way if you're at work and the dog's with the dog walker you'll know EXACTLY where your dog is. Our favorite GPS tracking device is the one from Whistle.
Epsom salt soaks and heat packs can reduce the swelling of itchy paws and inflamed sores. A bath of warm water and Epsom salt also speeds up the healing time for any small, open sores, particularly when combined with veterinary antibiotics.
Evening primrose oil, an essential oil,has active anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties. You can apply primrose oil directly to your dog’s skin to treat dry or itchy skin issues. Likewise, giving your dog evening primrose oil by mouth helps calm allergies and boosts the immune system – and it only takes a few drops on her food or in her water to do the trick.
Treats with supplements What dog doesn't love a meaty treat? (All dogs everywhere!). Look for treats that contain ingredients like coconut oil and other super foods that are really good for a dog's coat and immune system. We recommend these treats developed specifically for skin & coats
Eucalyptus – Steep 1 teaspoon dried eucalyptus (or 2 tablespoons of fresh eucalyptus) in a pint of boiling water for 10 minutes, covered. Allow the eucalyptus water to cool to body temperature and pour it over your dog after her final rinse. Rub the mixture in and towel her dry without further rinsing. The eucalyptus in the conditioner repels fleas while promoting a soft, glossy coat. Alternative: Buy a an all natural eucalyptus shampoo that’s already mixed and ready to go. Hint- make sure that it’s real eucalyptus essential oil, and not a fragrance.
Note: Under no circumstances should your dog ingest eucalyptus. This is only recommended for topical use in moderation and under supervision. As with all products your pet may have allergies or react to different products in different ways. Please consult your vet before using.
Dry Shampoo – If your pooch hates getting into the water, an all-natural dry shampoo can keep her skin healthy and coat smelling good. Spread ½-cup to 1-cup of whole bran, uncooked oatmeal, or cornmeal on a cookie sheet and warm in the oven on low heat for 5 minutes to bring out the natural oils in the grain. Grab a handful of the grain (leaving the rest in the oven to stay warm) and rub it into your dog’s fur and skin with a towel, concentrating on the greasy, dirty areas. Then thoroughly brush the areas to remove all the grain. This dry shampoo exfoliates the skin while removing any nasty residue from your dog’s coat. Alternative: Buy an in between grooming spray that’s already mixed and ready to go.
Essential Oil Shampoo – Add a few drops of eucalyptus or pennyroyal essential oil to natural shampoo or castile soap. Rinse your dog with clear water. Rinse again with vinegar-water (1 tbsp. to 1 pint warm water). This easy-to-make shampoo and rinse removes soap residue and prevents the dandruff that can result in itchy skin. Alternative: Buy a an all natural eucalyptus shampoo that’s already mixed and ready to go. Hint- make sure that it’s real eucalyptus essential oil, and not a fragrance.
Herbal Flea Powder – Combine one part each of as many of these dried and powdered herbs as you can find: rosemary, fennel, eucalyptus, rue, yellow dock, and wormwood. Put this mixture in a clean, dry shaker-type jar, like one used for parsley flakes or Parmesan cheese. Apply the flea powder sparingly to the base of your dog’s coat by brushing back the hair first, then sprinkling in small amounts around the neck, belly, and back. You’ll need to use the powder several times a week for a severe flea infestation, and place your pooch outside in they yard so the repelled fleas don’t end up in your home. Remember, this powder only repels the pests…it does not kill them. Alternative: Buy all natural off-the-shelf sprays. We like Vet's Best all natural flea spray.
Natural Skin Tonic – This lemon-based tonic not only repels fleas, it works as a general skin toner for itchy pets. Thinly slice a whole lemon, including the rind, and steep it overnight in a pot of boiling water. The cooling water draws out d-limonene, vitamin C, and other healing ingredients found in the whole lemon. The next day, sponge it on your dog’s skin and let the solution air-dry. You can use the lemon tonic daily for cases of heavy flea infestation. Alternative: targeted anti-itch sprays made with essential oils and herbs that can focus on specific itchy spots on your dog and bring immediate relief to irritation and inflammation.
Baking Soda- Prepare a thick paste by using a 50/50 mix of baking soda and water. Apply to affected areas of your dog’s skin, leave for 20 minutes, and then rinse off. Alternatively add one cup of baking soda to your dog’s bath water if he is itching all over.
Apple Cider Vinegar- Prepare a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar with water, and use a spray bottle to apply it to affected areas.
Aspirin Mix- Crush two aspirin tablets and mix with a small amount of rubbing alcohol (do not administer by mouth). This mixture can be applied directly to affected areas of skin using cotton wool or cotton swabs. For maximum effect, apply in conjunction with one of the previously listed remedies.
Give your dog a bath – There is a common misconception that you shouldn’t bathe your dogs very often and that doing so can make skin conditions worse. Most veterinarians treat skin disease through a combination of steroids and antibiotics. But if you’re like me, you want to stay away from harsh drugs and try all natural courses of action first. The use of ’shampoo therapy’ to treat skin conditions may be the most overlooked natural therapy for dogs with skin disease. Read more about how bathing your dog can prevent itchiness.
Brush your dog every day – Who knew that something so simple and basic as brushing your dog’s coat could help to control and eliminate itchy and irritated skin. When his skin is itchy, inflammatory blood cells and chemical compounds such as histamine and prostaglandins accumulate in the affected area. These are all responsible for the reddening and inflammation that causes the itch. Read more about how brushing your dog can prevent itchiness.
Feed your dog coconut oil – Every night I mix up my dogs food with some coconut oil. In the summer it’s really easy because the oil is liquid due to the hot weather. In the winter it solidifies so you have to microwave it a few seconds before putting it on your dog’s food. Coconut oil is excellent for your dog’s coat and general health. You don’t need a dog specific coconut oil, a high quality human brand will do. You can also checkout treats that have the coconut baked right in.
I hope that you’ll find something that will help you itchy dog. If you know of another natural remedy we should add to this list, PLEASE list them below!