• Dr. Katie Woodley

5 Natural Itchy Skin Home Remedies for Dogs

Updated: May 25

#itchyskinrelief #holisticvet #foodismedicine #dogallergies

It's here! The season of itchiness! You know when your dog starts scratching, licking and chewing, because it's most likely keeping you up at night. You hear that lick, lick, lick or scratch, lick, scratch, and it's driving you both nuts! There are many causes for the excessive licking, chewing and scratching, so we always recommend getting checked out by your veterinarian. However, we are going to cover 5 ways you can safely provide your pet with more comfort.

There are many causes of increased itchiness for dogs, ranging from fleas, other parasites, topical irritations to the most common which are food and environmental allergens. For our natural flea/tick remedies, go to our previous blog post here. If you have a dog that flares up every season, you are most likely dealing with an environmental allergen. It can be harder to diagnose if your dog has both food and environmental sensitivities. Your veterinarian should be able to help guide you on the different diagnostics we have to figure out the cause of the increased itchiness.

Here are 5 safe natural remedies you can use to help reduce itchiness in your pet:

1) Herbal teas

Chamomile, green tea, calendula and black tea possess properties that cool irritated and sensitive skin. Chamomile tea is safe to use also to wipe out those gunky eyes if your dog is battling conjunctivitis. Grab a cool tea bag and use it directly on the affected skin. You can also brew the tea, let it cool and put it in a spray bottle to apply to the skin. You can also make a tea bath and have your pup lay in it for at least 5 minutes to help calm down irritated skin.

Another way to utilize tea is to brew a cup of green tea, and pour it into the food every day. A 2002 study in American Chemical Society, showcased how the most abundant and biologically active compound in tea, EGCG, blocks a key receptor involved in producing an allergic response in the body.  Because of this effect, green tea can be more effective than Zyrtec over the long term in helping to control allergy symptoms.

2) Quercetin

Fruits and vegetables get their colorful pigments from one flavonoid known as quercetin.

This compound is packed with antihistamine, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

It can be effective in reducing itching due to its abilty to reduce the inflammatory cascade by preventing the release of histamine. Histamine is what creates the redness and itchiness your dog feels when their allergies flare up. Because of this ability, quercetin is known as nature's benadryl.

Foods that are high in quercetin include broccoli, green apples, berries, kale, spinach, and asparagus. You can add any of these safely into your dog's food to help increase their quercetin levels. Usually the content in these foods is not enough, so you can supplement quercetin.

Supplements come in pill and capsule form. To calculate the right dosage in milligrams, take the weight of your dog, multiply by 1000 mg, and then divide by 125.

3) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning that the body cannot produce them - they must come from the diet. Fish oil supplements have two types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are primarily found in cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, pollock and trout.

Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation naturally. When we think of these, we tend to think of fish oils that are ingested orally. However, we can even use these topically on dry or irritated skin. Many of our dogs are getting too much omega-6's in their diets which alters the ideal ratio of omega-3's to omega-6's and increases inflammation in the body. This does not mean that omega-6's are bad, however it does not optimize your pet's health when the ratio is off.

Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful for improving the skin barrier to external pollens and irritants while also reducing inflammation. If your dog has dry skin, they are probably not getting enough omega-3's.

Nordic Naturals is a quality fish oil brand. They also have a pet brand, which makes it easy to give the correct amount based on your pet's weight. You have to be careful with what brand of fish oil you use. There are many that are actually rancid, and you would never know, because it's in a capsule.

Many pet foods contain omega-3 fatty acids. However, the EPA and DHA present can go rancid very quickly, so the food must be stored properly. If you've ever had a weird smell to a bag of dog food, you were probably smelling the rancid fish oil. Best option is to supplement with a quality product like Nordic Naturals at the time of feeding your dog to ensure it is fresh.

4) Essential Oils

Essential oils can do wonders for irritated skin. Lavender, chamomile, and peppermint are very helpful at calming down red, inflamed skin. Myrrh is known for repairing damaged skin. If you haven't already checked out AnimalEO, you need to do so now! Their formula YeastyBeasty is incredible at healing hot spots and irritated skin.

I've been using Young Living essential oils for years and highly recommend this brand also. With essential oils, you need to make sure you are using oils that are therapeutic grade, organic and contain no artificial fragrances. Make sure you start by diffusing the oils in an open room to allow your dog to leave if they prefer. If you are using essential oils topically, always test a small area to ensure they do not have a reaction to the oils - less is best!

5) Real Food

As we discussed above with omega-3 fatty acids, kibble diets are high in carbohydrates and promote inflammatory states in our dog's bodies. Our dogs need real foods in their diets! This can be as simple as adding some of the vegetables high in quercetin into the diet a few times a week or transitioning your dog onto a balanced, cooked diet or a raw diet. Many dogs need a slow transition to a real food or raw diet, because their microbiome (good bacteria in the gut) need to adjust to different foods.

Along with real food, we are finding that many dogs are missing certain minerals and vitamins in their diets, even with a balanced diet. ParsleyPet is a company testing the hair for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If there is an imbalance present, this may be the reason for your dog's excessive itching! We can use real foods to improve the imbalances and get your dog right, without lots of drugs with side effects. Check them out here, and use the code Drkatie25 for $25 off your kit.

If you are looking for a few recipes to get your dog off of a kibble diet, get our Personalized Nutritional Plan. You'll get two recipes formulated for your dog and support to help get them onto a diet to optimize their health.

And as a bonus, if your dog is still suffering from allergies, you're going into the vet over and over again, trying more and more drugs with no results, reach out. Chinese herbal medicine is incredible at resolving the root cause of the issue and getting your pup back into tip-top shape! If you're not sure about Chinese medicine, use our telehealth option to find out more about how your dog can benefit today.

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*Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Dr. Katie Woodley cannot answer specific questions about your pet's medical issues or make medical recommendations for your pet without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.