Excessive scratching is the second most common reason people take their pets to the vet.
But the truth is, every dog is going to scratch from time to time. This isn’t always a bad sign, but something that sometimes happens without any reason, much like we might unconsciously scratch our own nose.
However, if your dog seems to be itching constantly, to the point where it causes inconvenience and continuous self-licking or chewing, it’s pretty obvious there’s some sort of problem that needs to be addressed.
In many cases, your veterinarian will prescribe antihistamines or anti-inflammatory steroids, which are usually used to treat and manage excessive itching in dogs.
Even though these products can indeed be wonderful and offer tremendous relief, they can also have undesirable side effects and potential impact on your dog’s long-term health.
The good news is, you can rely upon a number of more natural methods for helping relieve your dog’s itchy skin without resorting to medication.
In this post, you’ll learn how to stop itching in dogs, as well as what home remedies you can use to keep your pup itch-free and happy!
Why Is My Dog Scratching so Much?
While this might seem obvious, fleas are perhaps one of the primary suspects in any overly itchy dog. These parasites are extremely common in dogs, and in some cases, even a single bite can cause a reaction, as their saliva is a classic trigger for skin irritation.
Even a few fleas on your dog can make him very uncomfortable, while an outright flea infestation can be terrible for his health, and overall quality of life.
The bad news is that fleas are unfortunately common and extremely contagious. On the other hand, they’re very easy to spot and recognize as soon as they become a problem.
Look for tiny, seed-like dots on your dog’s coat. Even if you don’t see many at first, be sure to closely inspect the trouble areas, which are around the ears, tail, and tummy.
Let’s face it, your dog can be allergic to just about anything. While fleas are one of the biggest culprits, there are many other common triggers, such as seasonal and environmental allergies, as well as your dog’s diet.
Some dogs have an adverse reaction to pollen and dust, where others seem to itch more when exposed to certain ingredients, like wheat or corn.
These allergies usually result in skin-related symptoms, such as skin inflammation and itchiness, which can lead to a risk for wounds and infections due to the constant scratching and licking.
Yeast and bacteria can also cause skin problems and excessive itching. Yeast infections usually occur in the dog’s ear or paws. Some of the common symptoms to be aware of include excessively oily skin that has a bit of odor, or if your dog is licking his paws obsessively.
Bacterial infections can be caused by parasites, skin damage, poor diet, and antibiotics, which disrupt the bacterial balance within the dog’s body. Inflammation, redness, and discomfort are a few of the signs you need to be aware of.
Dogs also have dry skin, and just like humans, they need to use moisturizers to relieve the itchiness.
The reasons for dry skin in canines are similar to ours, and include nutritional intake, using the wrong grooming products, and dry air.
Sometimes, a dull coat may hint that your dog is suffering from dry skin, but that’s not always the case.
Review your dog’s diet, bathing routine, and the humidity level in your house to figure out whether they’re the cause for your dog’s condition.
5 Simple Ways to Stop Itching in Dogs
1. Use a Flea Treatment
Although I always prefer to use natural flea solutions, the best way to prevent a flea infestation is to use a high-quality flea control product. This also helps guard against ticks, which can cause Lyme’s disease and other health problems.
If I must, I’ll use one of the topical treatments that don’t enter the bloodstream. Instead, these products spread throughout the surface of the dog’s body, and keep him pest-free up to a month. Some also have the ability to repel mosquitos and black flies, which can irritate the skin as well.
Even if you use a topical treatment, you should always take precautions, such as mowing your lawn regularly, and avoiding wooded areas, tall grass, or bushes while walking your dog outside.
2. Boost His Immune System
Using probiotics is great. Even though they aren’t necessarily an anti-itching remedy, they can help your dog’s infections tremendously.
About 70% of a dog’s immune system resides in his gastrointestinal tract. This means that when your pup is ingesting good bacteria, it’s less likely that he will suffer from itching and other skin problems.
You can give your dog plain yogurt as a healthy treat, or buy a probiotic supplement for dogs. You can also look for a dog food that includes probiotics for maximum benefit.
3. Keep Him on a Hypoallergenic Diet
Food allergies are a common reason for itchy skin that many owners tend to overlook. Things like corn, wheat, and soy are known allergens, and some dogs may even be sensitive to chicken and eggs.
You can try moving to grain-free dog food, or switch to another protein source, such as fish. Not only are fish allergies far less common than other meats, but your dog also gets the benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA and EPA, which help to reduce skin inflammation.
If your pup doesn’t like the taste of fish, try rabbit-based dog food instead. This meat is also generally less likely to trigger allergic reactions.
4. Bathe Him Frequently
Bathing your dog once a week is perfectly fine. In fact, if your dog suffers from allergies, washing away the dust and other allergens from his coat on a regular basis is perhaps what he needs.
In order to avoid removing the natural oils from your dog’s skin, look for a gentle pet shampoo made from natural ingredients, such as oatmeal to treat that itchiness, coconut/jojoba oil for skin hydration, and even essential to keep your pup relaxed and free of fleas.
If your dog doesn’t like baths, you can use a special dry shampoo to refresh his skin and coat without having to rinse.
5. Stick to a Daily Grooming Schedule
Sometimes, even just a simple thing like brushing your dog every day can have a large impact on his skin condition. Not only does regular grooming help gets rid of loose hair, dirt, and dander, but it also helps improve poor blood circulation, which can lead to itchiness.
Be sure to wipe your dog down with a towel after every walk to remove allergens that may have been collected on his coat.
Furthermore, a quick brush each day can prevent knots and tangles, which are also very irritating and uncomfortable.
14 Natural Remedies for Your Dog’s Itchy Skin
1. Almond Oil
Almond oil is a great choice for dogs that have sensitive, dry skin that’s also inflamed or itchy. It has anti-inflammatory properties and contains vitamin E to help moisten and repair the skin.
The oil can be used by itself on the dog’s coat, or as a carrier oil with a little bit of essential oil, such as lavender. This won’t only soothe skin irritations, but it will also help your pup relax.
For a lavender almond massage oil, simply mix 2 tbsp. of almond oil with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is known for its ability to alleviate dryness and roughness. As a bonus, it has antibacterial and antifungal properties and makes for an excellent natural moisturizer, as well as a solution against shedding.
Apply coconut oil topically to help relieve your dog’s itching, and even mix it with his food to strengthen his immune system, and reduce the body’s anti-inflammatory response.
Some treats already have coconut included in the ingredients, which makes it even more appealing for your dog.
3. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is often used to treat skin disorders, such as dryness and itching. It has anti-inflammatory properties and contains Omega-6 and GLA fatty acids.
Put evening primrose oil in a spray bottle and spritz it on your dog, or add a few drops of oil to his food or water bowl. However, be sure to talk with your veterinarian before using this essential oil.
4. Olive Oil
Olive oil is full of nutrients that can be quite beneficial for alleviating itchy skin or helping with other topical disorders. It contains polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe irritated skin.
Take a little bit of olive oil and massage your dog’s skin and coat with it. In addition, you can add about a teaspoon to your dog’s food to fight against dryness and flakiness from the inside out.
Omega-3 is probably a good supplement to include even if your dog doesn’t experience skin issues. It has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can keep allergies under control, as well as reduce itchy skin. Additionally, it’s simply good for our health.
You can get Omega-3 capsules for dogs and hide them inside wet dog food, canned pumpkin, or natural peanut butter. As an alternative, you can get chewable Omega-3 treats.
I personally prefer to use liquid fish oil because it mixes well with food, and can help entice dogs who are picky eaters to eat their kibbles.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E isn’t just good for helping dogs maintain a healthy coat, but it also relieves skin allergies and repairs damaged tissues. In addition, it has antioxidant properties and can be used to moisten your dog’s skin and nourish it against redness and itchiness.
If you feed your dog good quality kibbles or cooked liver, he probably has enough vitamin E in his diet already, and you don’t need to add more. Instead, take the oil out of a vitamin E capsule, and rub it onto your dog’s dry and itchy spots every couple of days.
7. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is one of the most effective treatments for relieving itchy skin and treating other skin problems. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, both of which help keep skin infections at bay. Plus, this green plant is a great natural moisturizer.
Use real aloe vera leaves fresh from the plant, or buy a store-bought gel. Either way, all you need to do is simply apply it to the itchy area a few times a day.
Keep in mind that commercial aloe vera may be harmful if ingested, so stick to external use only, and make sure your dog doesn’t lick it.
Calendula is one of the safest herbs to use on dogs, which is why it’s used in so many pet products. It has antimicrobial properties, and not only does it soothe the skin from itchiness and insect bites, but it’s also good for treating cuts and wounds.
Brew a calendula tea, and wait for it to cool off. Then, put it in a spray bottle, and spritz the liquid evenly across your dog’s coat. If he has especially itchy skin, you can soak the tea up with a towel, and leave it on his trouble spots for a few minutes.
Chamomile is similar to calendula, in that it’s also known to temporarily help with calming dry and irritated skin. It has anti-microbial properties and can help heal skin infections, as well as ease any skin issues or bug bites when applied topically.
Prepare a cup of chamomile tea, let it cool down, and pour the liquid into a spray bottle. Use this on your dog’s coat whenever needed. If your dog is also chewing his paws, you can soak them in chamomile tea for instant relief.
10. Green Tea
Green tea has many great benefits for the skin, and it can also be very effective in treating dryness and allergies. It has antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as tannins, which can reduce discomfort and itching from allergic skin reactions.
Simply make a green tea rinse from a couple of tea bags, and use it after you shampoo your dog. You can also use the cool tea bags directly on your dog’s itchy spots.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a popular natural remedy for dogs with itchy skin, and for a good reason. Not only does it have antiseptic properties, but it can also reduce dryness and irritation in the skin, and even deter fleas.
Mix a solution of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water inside a spray bottle, and spritz it on your dog. Alternatively, use the same blend to rinse your dog’s body while you’re giving him a shower.
Just make sure that it’s raw, organic vinegar, and don’t use it on open wounds or cuts.
12. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another common home remedy for treating skin rashes and itchy skin. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which help relieve discomfort and prevent further inflammation.
Use a 50/50 mix of baking soda and water to make a paste, and apply it to your dog’s affected skin for 10 minutes before rinsing it off. Another option is to add one cup of baking soda to your dog’s bathing water.
An oatmeal bath is a time-tested, soothing treatment for itchy, irritated skin. It softens the skin and helps to lock moisture, as well as protect it from external irritants.
You’ll have to use colloidal oatmeal, which are oats that have been grind into a fine powder (you can also make your own at home), and add that into your dog’s bath, or mix it with his shampoo.
If you like, there are also plenty of oatmeal shampoos for pets out there.
14. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is a natural exfoliant that helps fight skin disorders. It has anti-bacterial properties, and contains minerals like magnesium and sulfate to reduce inflammation, and help treat dry skin and open sores.
Fill up a bath with lukewarm water, add the Epsom salt inside, and scrub your dog gently. You can also soak a washcloth in a mixture, and apply it directly to your dog’s skin.