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Vet Advice: Relief for Your Dog's Itchy Skin




This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 46: Jan/Feb 2008
Robert Silver, DVM, founder of Boulder's Natural Animal: A Holistic Wellness Center, is also a certified veterinary acupuncturist. He received his DVM from Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. bouldersnaturalanimal.com
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Submitted by sheila | July 26 2014 |

Maybe you need to ask a vet about the raw meat. I just read, on a list of things not to give dogs, is ANY raw meat.

Submitted by Mike G | June 28 2014 |

I feed my dog raw. We have a very good meat grinder, When raw chicken is put in the grinder you don't even see the bones. They are ground into the meat. So there is a way to feed your dog chicken bones which is very healthy because of the marrow in the bones.

Submitted by sheila | July 26 2014 |

OMG....never never give your dog chicken bones. They splinter in your dogs gut and could kill him.

Submitted by BQu | August 15 2014 |

Actually RAW bones - poultry bones included are great for your dog. Never mix raw food and kibble - it will cause digestive upset and distress. Kibble takes longer to digest, and raw takes less time as it is a more biologically appropriate diet their bodies utilize it better. Proof is in the poop quite frankly. I fed my cats raw from kittens, and now I am feeding my rescue dog raw as well, even went to work for a raw food place when I found them.
NEVER feed COOKED bones as yes they will splinter and harm your animal.
Where are you folks getting this information against feeding raw meat?
Do you really believe that kibble has been around for forever?
What do you think dogs ate before kibble while still domesticated and working with humans?
Why can your cat hunt a wild bird and eat it, but not a chicken?
Research is needed, please just google raw diet for animals.

Submitted by Holly | September 9 2013 |

Is it possible for the topical flea medicines to cause a reaction on the skin? If so how do you recommend treating for fleas? Also, is there any homeopathic regiments to treat the skin and itch?

Submitted by dian blinte | September 18 2013 |

my dog is having a reaction also scraching on the area that i put advantix II on I gave him benadryl but still scraching been 2 days rinsed him with plain water what else can we do

Submitted by Heidi | March 7 2014 |

I know I'm late to this party but my dog had a severe, toxic reaction to a topical flea medicine. Symptoms started (itching all over and rubbing her nose and face) showing about 12 hours after application. I stayed up most of the night with her. By morning she had calmed down but still didn't seem right so I took her to the vet. Good thing because my vet said she would not have survived if I hadn't brought her in when I did. She ended up in the hospital for 5 days and now, almost two years later is still on Denamerin because her liver enzymes are too low. Thankfully Denamerin is one of the more natural medications out there. It is made from milk thistle extract and has no known side effects or long term repercussions. My baby girl has done really well on it.

Submitted by Andrew | May 1 2014 |

If you want a homeopathic version of anything, just mix 1ml of the original with 1L of water, and you have a VERY powerful homeopathic version of the original. To make it even MORE powerful, take 1ml of the new mixture and mix it with 1L of water. The more times you do this, the more powerfully homeopathic it is. That's what the (for instance) 16x on the label means - it has been massively diluted 16 times.

If you think that sounds like a sick joke, and you should, then you don't understand homeopathy.

Submitted by chaz | September 19 2013 |

my staffy has allergies and chews his feet(pretty bad)my vet has said he will have to take steroids for the rest of his life!but I fear they will harm his health,i have heard of a product called dermapaw in America..do the uk have a sililar product?? anybody who can help please do!

Submitted by Tom | September 27 2013 |

For what it is worth, my little pekingese / poodle (peek-a-poo) mix gets the itchies every fall. Nothing else changes in his world or in his (very high quality) dry dog food, just the time of year. Common sense tells me that my skin also becomes itchy at this time of year, why not his? I started adding a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil (not corn oil!) to his food. This helps until the season really kicks in, about now.

Last couple years I took him to the vet who, of course, decided he needed expensive injections of steroids plus steroids by mouth. After reading the horrors of steroids I didn't want to do that to him again. Heck, it didn't help for more than a few days anyway. A lot of what you read online is scary too... One article I read recommended rubbing baking soda and oatmeal into his skin. Really? The dog's skin is dry so we want to use the driest stuff on the planet on him. Stuff that will take motor oil out of a concrete driveway? I think not!

Today, after reading the above article as well as some others I just thought "why not try on him what I use on my own dry skin?" Nothing with chemicals or scents, of course, just pure aloe vera. I buy it at the local pharmacy, but you can get it almost anywhere. I had to mix the gel with water to make it thin enough to get down through his coat, but the relief was immediate and has lasted all day so far. It must taste like crap because he won't lick it, and it is non-toxic even if he did. It is unscented and has no real natural scent to it. And, bonus, it is dirt cheap.

My dog is no longer suffering. I hope you'll try this solution for yours and save him some irritation, and yourself some money.

Good luck!

Submitted by cyn | April 1 2014 |

Thank you for your post! My lil peekapoo, thanks you as well :-)

Submitted by aditi | April 8 2014 |

Yeah...for sure..i will try this..for my cutiee pie minnie..thnx dude..

Submitted by Cindy | May 3 2014 |

Will give this a try. I will stop at the store tomorrow. My poor Oscar is itching so much. he looks at me sometimes, like he is saying, can't you do something mommy

Submitted by Melody | June 27 2014 |

I'll be trying this on my little Pekingese this afternoon! Thanks!

Submitted by Roger | September 30 2013 |

ABout 1 week ago, I decided to try the Wellness brand dry dog food, for my 3 4 legged kids, and i am starting to decide it was a bad idea. Cost wasn't a factor, as it is pricey. More so than the Blu Buffalo I was feeding them for many years. Bear is a 5 year old Shi-Chon Bichon mix and has never displayed any signs of excessive itching or skin problems up to this point. After 1 week on the Wellness brand dog food, the itching has begun to drive us both crazy it seems. He sleeps with me and shakes the bed all night long now. I spend more time scratching him to prevent him from doing damage to himself. I tried benadryl ( 1/2 tablet) and it seemed to quiet down the itch, but only tried it as a last resort. It worked for 1 night of rest, but I am leary of making it a constant remedy for his itching. As of today, I am removing the Wellenss from his diet and going back to Blue Buffalo permanently. Just because it costs more, doesn't mean it's better. Wellness brand claims are deceiving at this point. for instant releif, I use the benadryl insect bite spray and rub it in very good, to treat the skin where he seems to have the itchy spots ( rib area on both sides, lower inner stomach) after reading other posts, I will go back to benadryl tablets at bedtime so he sleeps good at night.

Submitted by Diane Johnston | May 20 2014 |

My dog 14 year old lab had severe skin allergies I tried Fromm's dog food Salmon Tunalini and her skin cleared up immediately. It's grain free and consists mostly of fish, fruits and vegtables. It'susually a protein source that causes the severe itch or seasonal allergies. And it's good practise to rotate the dogs food don't feed them one protein source for a long time. I switch betwen the beef frittata, salmon tutulii
and the surf and turf one from fromms. I also give her some wet food because dry
dog food has very litle moisture. I sprinkle a probiotic supplement on her wet food.
Benedrly is okay but should be shorterm only. All it does is make the dog sleepy.
As a treat I give her sardines ,the ones in spring water, it's an excellent source of B6 and B3 helps with dry skin issues. Add more fish to the diet.

Submitted by Michele | November 9 2013 |

Both my dogs went crazy with allergies this past summer. They only got relief when I gave them regular antihistamines. I found out what dosage from this vet's website.
It worked for me and I have since shared it with a lot of people.
Good luck

Submitted by Delaney | November 22 2013 |

My dog has had major itchiness, and developed some scabby spots and thinning hair on her but near her tail -- I am using canine enterouc powder on her and this has helped a great deal, all her hair is back and the scabby spots are gone. Along with brushing her and tea tree oil for hot spots I think I might add olive oil to her diet a couple of times a week also see if that gets rid of the remaining dryness and flakiness.

Submitted by Donny | December 6 2013 |

I Have an american pitbull x bulldog aka a bandogee she is super itchy from her face ears back all the way to her legs and feet she has been on venectyl p, prednisone and fed with medical hypoallergenic dog food. We cant seem to get her itchyness under control she has scratched / chewed her hair and legs to the skin and wont stop even on her med which is prednisone right now is there anything we can do for her? She has no hair left on her back legs :(

Submitted by Theresa Day | December 7 2013 |

My two English bulldogs have food allergies changed mine to a grain free diet and they are 99% better...

Submitted by Sandra Erickson | December 14 2013 |

Help! I have 50 lb pit bull she is 2 year ,she has a bad red rash her tummy that just won't go away,we
gave her antistamine & temaril-p nothing helps!

Submitted by Thea Mcclure | March 6 2014 |

My little chihuahua and shihtzu has had allergy's since we moved to our first home four years ago. Started out really slow for the two and a half and then she started breaking out with these little bumps mostly on her back, then she started getting some on her belly. Then she scratches on the right side on the under side of the belly. Took her to the vet wasted time and money. So I started looking for web sites that had vets that were holistic. I kind of anticeptic but by this time I was ready to listen. As long as it was safe. So Dr at website. . she suggest providone iodine its for a lot of infections and is a nathuarl medicine. Its used for skin infections , yeasts,molds, fungi and viruses.so I started using it. U can find it in any drug store. Put some in warm water into a glass container and apply with a wash rag or a clean rag. Wipe gently down going the same way the hair grows. Never against. Do it twice a day. Don't forget the belly. Then you pat dry with a clean towel, not to dry just damp. Then let dry. Its working for us. It takes about three weeks to see it really working. We have also started benadryl twice a day it seems like that's adding help also. Thank you God.

Submitted by Rod | December 15 2013 |

We have a 8 year old mix breed, that has every licking and itching issue possible. Allergic to so many different things, the food allergies are pretty much conquered since all he gets is lamb and brown rice. Organic snacks, with limited ingreients. Bath every other week, has a vaccine every 10 days for 6 months now. NO relief!!, Poor dog wears a cone most of the day, with exception of when outside and can be watched constantly. Issues have been discussed with Vet overand over, so far no solution, bendrdyl twice daily no help, sprays and lotions worthless. I read of a new product coming available first quarter of 2014 that has shown to give relief to the constant licking and scratching. /the name of it is Apoquel, I am hoping it will give some big relief, because at present we are at wits end and frustrated at no relief for all the things we have tried either OTC or prescription, I don't know how this dog is able to have a good quality of life the way it is. All the home remedies we tried, no help. This dog was a rescue puppy and feel due to the inbreeding that a lot of his problems were generated that way. We will continue to give all the comfort possible and hope one day for something more powerful.

Submitted by Randy Poppert | January 1 2014 |

We have a full blooded German Shepherd that we got as a pup. He in now 7 years old and every year his allergies seem to get worse. Our vet says that he is allergic to just about everything and during the dry winter months up here in Alaska, he seems to get so much worse. I think this may go back to the earlier article when you spoke about "puppy mills". At any rate, as is the case with most pets, Zues is a very big part of me and my wife's life. Zues gets really sick sometimes to the point of vomiting and fevers. He scratches almost non stop when he is awake in the winter months (which is about 6 months a year)even though I can see no dry skin under his coat. It is a very sad thing to have to go through for him especially and for us to have to watch because of the family bond we have with him. He has been put on a whole litany of different medications but he seems to be immune to just about everything they try. We are at our wits end trying to keep him comfortable and the money that we have spent on his care up to this point is an extraordinary amount which is fine and we would gladly spend that over and over again if we could find something that would help. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it so very much. (And I have had people tell me "Hey, his name is supposed to be spelled "Zeus", you have it misspelled". And my reply is "No, he's not some mythical god, he's my buddy, a part of the family and Zues is his name".)

Submitted by Jmfarrside | January 5 2014 |

We have a 3 year old German Shepherd we have has as a pup as well and he has horrible allergies. We have spent a considerable amount of money also to try to get him some relief. We have him on a prescription called Clemastine which we get from Target pharmacy. It helps a lot with his itching and we tried many prescriptions before we found one that helped. But we also make a solution of apple cider vinegar and water a 50/50 mix and just wipe him down twice a day. It gives him relief for several hours. It's worth a try to give your dog some relief.

Submitted by Mads | January 10 2014 |

Please try to get him on Apoquel as soon as possible, should bring him relief without harsh side effects for the forseeable future. Best of luck.

Submitted by Jamie Vaccaro | March 13 2014 |

Hi, I read your post and had to reply. We put our Lhasa Apso on Apoquel last month. Her itching stopped, but she began to refuse to take the pill, which is unlike her. So I thought I would check out the side effects. APOQUEL CAN CAUSE CANCERS, something our vet did not tell us!! It also can cause upper resporatory illnesses, etc. Please read about these pharmaceutical drugs and the actual side effects before you give them to your pets. She knew that pill was doing something to her and since I read that, she has never, nor will EVER have Apoquel or Cyclosporine/Atopica again!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Trublu | March 19 2014 |

Please try grain free Halo pet food or Primal raw; I shave my poodle down and put on 100% aloe gel all over the areas that make him itch. I also give him probiotics and very low sugar plain yogurt. I also make sure my sheets on my bed and anywhere he lies down are washed in fragrance free and chemical free laundry detergent; no downy or frangrance softener either. I also use Halo Pet shampoo and never give him cheap treats or any toys made in China. See if he is allergic to other cats or other animals you may have. Cheap air fresheners are bad for you and your dog's environment. Use Vinegar to clean floors; toss out the chemical floor and rug cleaners. Rug deodorizing powders make my feet itchy when I walk on carpet. Ok, hope I can help someone out there.

Submitted by Susan | March 28 2014 |

This sounds so simple, but have you tried lavender essential oil.Try a few drops in a jug of warm water as the carrier, concentrate your pouring under arms and legs (of dog) if possible and leave for as long as possible. or make a natural mix of lavender oil and a non poisonous oil, any lightweight edible oil for the carrier(for the non poisonous factor in case licked.)a few drops to a around 50 mls of oil. Use under arms or itchy hot spots. I use lavender essential oil in an ointment with my dog and when he is itchy, and this is frequent come autumn I use it and he actually comes to me, for me to put it on him when he is suffering. He only has to see me with the jar and he is there. I conclude it doesn't cure but it eases. Just an idea :)

Submitted by kim | January 12 2014 |

It started with my older dog who would itch and chew his whole body . HE had red skin,loss of hair, bumbs , you name it he had it . Now my younger dog (5) is itching and so am I . I'm itching so bad and so is the other dog . the older one has been to the vet 5 times (they said its food allergy . My gut tells me its not (no ringworm,no mites) had him tested. all three of us have this problem. i need help i think its internal but what????????

Submitted by Lori | January 12 2014 |

Help. My Samoyed who is 12.5 years old is suffering from a skin condition. She is dry in someplaces, but in others she has oily canine seborrhea. I washed the oily pits with dishwashing soap as suggested to remove it from the skin. Now she is incredibly itchy. Any advice?

Submitted by Melissa | January 16 2014 |

As a groomer, I can say many of us dont use any dryers with heat. Cage dryers with heat are dangerous and high velocity dryers heat with the friction of the high velocity air. Some groomers use stand dryers with low heat but none of the groomers I talk to use any dryers with high heat as the risk of burns is too great.

Submitted by Erika | January 17 2014 |

Been hearing about gold bond on itchy skin how about baking soda? My chiuahua has been itching like crazy! She's only 5 pounds I tried water and apple cider vinegar and hasn't worked what else can I use?

Submitted by Alta Riggs | January 27 2014 |

I have a 110lb. Rottie,he bites himself and PULLS OUT HIS HAIR...Keeps us up all nite chewing,biting and scratching himself.I finally have to get up and block him from coming back into our room.I know he can't help it, he is probably miserable :( I give him dog bones as a treat and was wondering if this could bring on his itching?? I'm gonna try the Selsun Blue for shampoo,and the apple vinegar and water(1/2 and 1/2) to spray on him,the fish oil or omega vitamins and try to research for a new food for him...Any suggestions would be helpful

Submitted by yodaman7 | February 2 2014 |

I have a pug/sharpei mix. He is 13 yrs old and every year it gets worse. From my experience, his best relief comes from a steroid shot at the Vet. Its abrev. SQ/IM. Vet will only give him 2 per yr tho so I save those for fall and spring when his allergies are worst bc of pollen increase. In winter, its dry skin. I give him an oatmeal bath (aveeno shampoo) 1-2x a month and spray a hot spot spray on him constantly. it has tea tree oil to help sooth the hot spots he has. When he's chewing at his paws its bc of grass usually but he is also allergic to his own yeast so we have a pill for that too (Ketoconazole). In home remedy soothing I've noticed giving him wet food helps a lot with dry skin and I give him the Natural Balance limited ingredient with fish as the main protein. NO CHICKEN! It always makes him have a flare up, that includes treats! He only weighs 32pds, but Vet said I could give him 3 benadryl in morning and at night. Even that doesn't seem to help him though.
If I try anything else it will probably be to get a humidifier and give him fish oil. As for pollen/grass issues- steroids is his only help with that. Even though it could later in life be bad for him, I do know its better that he's happier now and not constantly miserable 9 months out of the year bc he can't stop itching.
Don't forget they are more miserable by itching than you are annoyed by it. Spend the extra money and take your pup to Vet. They are the pro in the end. Hope some of my experience has helped someone!

Submitted by Joyce | February 5 2014 |

We finally figured out why our dog itched so much and that was his allergy to any food that contained chicken in any forms. (also wheat) He used to scratch incessantly, now he barely does. This works. Food recommended is BLUE BUFFALO fish formula. We put a bit of vegetable or beef broth (low sodium, organic) in it and it goes down like magic!

Submitted by Socir | February 20 2014 |

I started feeding my lab/pitt bull mix- boiled chicken w/ his dog food about a month ago. Three weeks ago Eli started scratching endlessly. My gut feeling has been telling me it's the chicken. I will stop immediately. Thanks : )

Submitted by Susan in Colorado | February 11 2014 |

My dog was "dumped" on me by a CL owner. Within a month he had torn up his face from itchiness. After two years of shots and pills with the vet, itching so bad he had sores and was crawling out of his skin, wearing a cone nonstop for a year and a half and ear infections we have 90% relief. Grain free food, fish oil, and scrupulous attention to keeping ears clean. My dog now rarely scratches, has reduced paw licking, occasional minor eye swelling with minor head rubbing, and best of all - no more cone! We have a real dog now.

Submitted by cynde white | February 12 2014 |

What about yogurt or sardines in oil?
Would that help my dog and be safe?
And what type of gold bond powder do you use
Her belly licking and itching is causing
Severe sores especially up to her belly button

Submitted by Paula | February 15 2014 |

I have an elderly Jack Russell. She has two huge wart like itchy spots on her neck. It erupts periodically, scabs over then calms down. I have been using Rescue Remedy cream, diluted essential oils such as lavender and frankincense. She also has two spots that look like bites but is losing hair around it forming a circle. I don't like the vets ideas of antibiotics, steroids and then meds to calm the side effects. Any advice is welcome. Please email me with "Skin Issues In Dogs" in subject line. Thanks

Submitted by Lauren Short | February 25 2014 |

I gave my pit bull/ jack russell mix dog a bath the other night and hes still super itchy but his coat is soft and its a little flaky on the surface but if you look at his skin it doesnt look dry and its not tough. i feed him spots stew lamb formula dry food, he has a very sensitive tummy. what can i do to help relieve his itching, its only recent he started doing it so much. i hate for him to be uncomfortable so any suggestions would help. thank you

Submitted by David B | March 8 2014 |

Hello, I have a silver lab who has had an itchy body his whole life. Ever since we brought him home, he has always been obsessed with water. Every summer, he goes bald because he scratches and scratches until he has no hair. During the winter, he gets a light fluffy coat of hair but does not pull it out. He still scratches but it's not nearly as bad. Early on, he had a bark collar to try to ease off of his barking at strangers/neighbors, this did not help but where the collar was, he has never grown back hair. The skin cells look almost like honeycomb or enlarged compared to other parts. So we have tried different foods, no difference in condition. We have done multiple allergy tests with no allergies found. We have done skin scrapings but no mites and anything living in his skin. We have tried bathing with special shampoo multiple times a week and then using a conditioner, this seems to help a little bit but only for a few hours after. Steroid shots did nothing once so those are off the table. He gets really red and is always hot unless he just came in from outside(live in wisconsin) where he looks like a normal skin tone then. Benadryl does nothing as well.

Any ideas anyone?? PLEASE HELP. Thatcher is now 6 and would love for any relief for him.

Submitted by Patricia | April 3 2014 |

I have Aveeno calamine & pramoxine hcl anti itch cream. Does anyone happen to know if this could be used on my 10lb morkie for itch relief?

Submitted by Linda | April 8 2014 |

Hi, yes, you can use anti-itch cream, hydrocortisone, calamine lotion. Lots of things people use, dogs can use! That's why vets prescribe benedryl, etc or prednisone , stuff like that. Just remember ...topical creams, shampoos, and other external items are only temporary relief for your pet. You need to find the reason for the itching/ irritation. I just discovered dogs COULD have itchy skin because of a low thyroid hormone production. There is a grocery list of things that could be the reason for your itchy pet. Food allergies (like everybody already knows), flea allergies, grass allergy, yeast...which is in most every single commercial dog food, mites (external or under the skin), bacteria build up on plastic food or water dishes, on and on. I have 3 English bulldogs, all itchy! Food changes are first! And changing food/ water dishes to glass or stainless. My middle 3 yr old male is on a raw food diet.(he needed low/no purines due to bladder stones) Unfortunately, I started him on chicken, YEAH, now I know, chicken may be the problem. AND, FYI...raw uncooked chicken bones are fine. How many chicken coops were robbed by coyotes, and they never got bones stuck anywhere! His breakouts on his back got better at first, but then didn't go away like it should have. We started beef today. We'll see how that goes. No grain, just potato, raw eggs /crunched up shell about 2/3 times a week, and blended veggies , fruits and nuts for a treat. His fur is super soft now, was real stiff before. But still has skin eruptions :( The other 2 eat Natures Recipe, no grain, fish based. They may need a little time to adjust to that change. So no more rice, oats, barley and definitely no wheat or corn! Try adding ground flax seed, acidophilus , aloe Vera, and fish oil to your pets diet. I give those plus kelp, vitamin E and D and glucosamine /MSM, for their joints...all human grade supplements. I hope I helped. Oh, and don't bathe them too often, makes for dried out skin and coat.

Submitted by mike | April 14 2014 |

Hi. i saw my dog itching and shedding. it is summer today in our country. does shedding cause itchiness? I bring my dog to the vet and she said that it is due to mange. So my dog was given an injection for mange and it will last for a month. but my tita said that her dog was treated with mange for 6 months and her dog was given also liver treatment because the medicine can cause liver damage. why is it that my dog was not given that kind of treatment? Is my vet following the proper treatment procedure? or she is fooling me?

Submitted by Help me | April 28 2014 |

Help. My chihuahua scratches until she makes her self bleed on her back and her hair falls out. I've treated for fleas etc. Help. Poor thing is going crazy.

Submitted by michealle | May 10 2014 |

We tried Atopica and aside from being very expensive, it made our dog sick. Baking soda baths provide a lot of relief. We found Dermapaw salve on the internet and it relieved the itching completely

Submitted by michealle | May 10 2014 |

I don't mean to post this twice but I don't think it worked the first time. We tried Atopica and it made our dog sick and is very expensive. We do baking soda bath rinses and it helps a lot. We found DermaPaw on the internet and their salve and socks have basically eliminated our dog's problems completely. I also use baby shampoo because the expensive vet shampoos didn't help at all.

Submitted by Tracey Mason | May 15 2014 |

Hi. I have a 4 year old Staffordshire Bull terrier. She is itchy hrr fur in the same place all the time. She has 2 big patches at either side of her body where all her fur is thinned. And it is now startind at the base of her tail. What can I do? Im getting very worried as she will have no fur soon.

Submitted by berenice rios | May 18 2014 |

i have a chiwawa and he has scratched to the point where he no linger has fur around the eyes we took him to the vet and she gave us eye drops but they havnt had an efect on him.

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