by Nicola Parry, DVM
Skin disease is one of the most common reasons why dogs visit their veterinarian, and it certainly comes in all shapes and sizes! Despite the variety of skin diseases, however, itchiness is a sign that is common to many of them. If you are someone who prefers to take a more natural approach to therapy, or even if you are caught short with an itchy dog and the veterinarian’s office is closed, there are various home remedies that you can use to help provide your dog with some relief.
Seven Home Remedies To Help Relieve Itchy Skin
Before trying any of these remedies on long-haired dogs, a hair cut will not only make it easier for you to apply them, but will also help your dog feel more comfortable in general.
Oatmeal: Grind one cup of plain oatmeal to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or food processor, and then mix with one cup of water. Apply the paste to affected areas of your dog’s skin, leave for 20 minutes, and then rinse off. Alternatively add one cup of ground oatmeal to your dog’s bath water if he is itching all over. Or, if you don't want to go through all of that, there are many good oatmeal products on the market. Make sure they contain COLLOIDAL oatmeal, not oatmeal extract. We recommend this one from Nature's Specialties.
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. Or buy this pre made one from Burt's Bees.
Herbal Tea Bag Rinse: Herbal teas such as chamomile, green tea, or calendula make for great rinses. Simply steep two tea bags in two cups of hot water. Remove the bags and allow the tea to cool before applying to affected areas of skin.
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.
So whether your dog is itching due to allergic skin problems, parasites, or bacterial infection, some home remedies can prove helpful. Avoid using them if your dog has open sores on his skin though – if this is the case, or if his itchiness persists, have him checked by your veterinarian to determine and treat the underlying cause first.
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