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Vet Advice: Relief for Your Dog's Itchy Skin
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Determining which condition your dog is dealing with requires a vet’s evaluation, but implementing some of the suggestions provided in the sidebar can certainly help your pup be more comfortable in her own skin—literally.

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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 Irish | May 22 2013 |

I also wanted to say/ask if anyone else noticed this..my dog is horribly itchy. I use half a benadryl pill for him like vet told me. have him on vet approved diet but he continues to be so itchy it's making us both crazy. What I think I have discovered is, he grooms himself like a cat, all day long, meaning licking...and his fur then is sticky & gross and I wonder if this is what is making him itch? (his sticky saliva in his fur)

Submitted by Kim Morris | July 29 2013 |

It could. If your dog's skin is wet from the licking all the time, he could develop "moist dermatitus" or basically a fungal, yeast type infection. But, the thing to do is first find out why he grooms himself this way. It could be an underlying issue..allergy..etc. Take him to the vet if you haven't already. Then, go from there.

All for all these itchy dogs, I also believe most low and mid-priced brands are full of junk. Even some of the expensive brands. You have to check and be sure that the first ingredient is real meat protein..not corn meal or other grain type meal. With the recent problems with the wrong ingredients turning up in dog foods at all price levels due to purchasing some ingredients from China and receiving back ingredients not suitable for any kind of consumption, we have to be even more careful. Most dog food companies use similar suppliers for their ingredients and we have already had two major problems with China resulting in wide spread problems and deaths of pets who ate the affected food.

I think taking a simple, natural approach to feeding our dogs is better. Like some have mentioned, a raw foods diet, or using chicken, beef, turkey etc. combined with rice, veggies and some fruits for example. We have to do our research though as we want our percentages of protein, carbs, fats..etc to be right.

There also could be new factors in our environment that are negatively effecting our pets. There is not much we can do about the changing environment but to try to learn as much about it as possible in order to address the issues it is causing. We still don't know why all the bees have been disappearing...though there are lots of ideas. Sometimes I think mother nature has just had enough of human's adversely effecting and controlling the environment.

I'm here because I have an itchy dog too. No fleas..just lots of itching. I'm in the process of trying to get this sorted as well.

Submitted by Erica-Ann | January 2 2014 |

I have a year old cross breed, (poodle/jackrussel/terrier) she scratches and bites non stop to the extent that it becomes raw at the base of the back just before the tail and sometimes also the front paws......PLEASE HELP she eats mostly table food and is bathed once a week with Wampam shampoo

Submitted by Angela | September 5 2014 |

I am having the same problem with my Jack Russell Terrier and am very interested in a home remefy

Submitted by future.vet | September 7 2014 |

You might be bathing too much, also dogs should not eat people food all the time it may cause problems

Submitted by Sam | September 14 2014 |

What type of table food? And less bathing might help build his natural oils. Oatmeal in the bath ( in a sick you squeeze out to contain mess) and things like witch hazel tee tree oil, mint etc sprayed onto his fur after a bath and brush gently into to skin might help. But the type of food he eats is a big factor so let me know :)
Hope some of that was helpful

Submitted by Charles Richards | June 2 2013 |

My dog suffered terribly from itching. The vet gave a negative skin scraping test & drugged him up with antibiotics, allergy meds and steroids. He started tearing himself up just came back when they were gone. I had to figure it out on my own. I learned that a negative scrapings are common and that mites are epidemic. I don't know what type of parasite he had so I got a natural mite dip that kils all mites online. I think it was called Mite Avenge. Natural is the way to go on dog that is already sick. Maybe this will help someone else.

Submitted by Anonymous | June 5 2013 |

did it help?

Submitted by Laura | October 9 2013 |

Did the mite treatment work?

Submitted by Erwin | July 9 2013 |

Our two year old Maltese Shih Tzu cross has itchy skin and red rings around his eyes, he constantly scratches and chews all over himself. We took him to the Vet and he said he has a food allergy and/or other allergens but is very expensive to find what food and/or other allergens he may have. We have changed his dry food to Kirkland chicken, as through research we found it to be one of the top rated dry foods. The biggest problem with dry food is the fillers , corn being the worst by far. We cannot digest it and neither can dogs or most other animals,also some of the other fillers are absolutely sickening. Read the labels and if one of the first five ingredients is corn do NOT buy it. Since changing to Kirkland dry dog food his scratching and red rings have subsided but he still has bouts and we give him half a benadryl 25mg tablet at night. The Vet also gave us a prescription of prednisone 5mg cut in half every 12 hours as needed for really bad flares to help relieve the awful itching. People need to read all labels as there are a lot of bad stuff in food and treats for your pets as the saying goes "if you can't pronounce dont eat it" same goes for your pet. It really does not cost much more to buy really good food for your pet, considering the cost of vets and other meds if you feed them CRAP.

Submitted by Kim | November 23 2013 |

Our Maltese was doing the same exact thing! Then someone told me it was maybe a grain allergy. I switched him to Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet, grain free. It took a full year of feeding him only this, but he has stopped chewing and itching and his tear stains have completely disappeared. Also I have heard yeast too and to only feed Raw diet, but we haven't gone to that......yet:) good luck!

Submitted by Erwin | July 9 2013 |

Our two year old Maltese Shih Tzu cross has itchy skin and red rings around his eyes, he constantly scratches and chews all over himself. We took him to the Vet and he said he has a food allergy and/or other allergens but is very expensive to find what food and/or other allergens he may have. We have changed his dry food to Kirkland chicken, as through research we found it to be one of the top rated dry foods. The biggest problem with dry food is the fillers , corn being the worst by far. We cannot digest it and neither can dogs or most other animals,also some of the other fillers are absolutely sickening. Read the labels and if one of the first five ingredients is corn do NOT buy it. Since changing to Kirkland dry dog food his scratching and red rings have subsided but he still has bouts and we give him half a benadryl 25mg tablet at night. The Vet also gave us a prescription of prednisone 5mg cut in half every 12 hours as needed for really bad flares to help relieve the awful itching. People need to read all labels as there are a lot of bad stuff in food and treats for your pets as the saying goes "if you can't pronounce dont eat it" same goes for your pet. It really does not cost much more to buy really good food for your pet, considering the cost of vets and other meds if you feed them CRAP.

Submitted by cristin | July 11 2013 |

My pitbull has sores an scabs all ovrr him ive tried everything I mean EVERYTHING even the vet gave him crap that didnt word please help

Submitted by Stacey Taylor | September 19 2013 |

Did you ever get any answers to your question. My Pit Bull has the exact same sounding problem and I don't know what to do for relief. Please Help!!

Submitted by Regina Naron | September 20 2013 |

Look up systematic yeast. That is what the symptons sound like. Search the sites "Nzymes" and "din-o-vite" Both sites have products that help.

Submitted by debbie | October 9 2013 |

I have a 2 yr. old Blue Nose Pit Bull with food and environmental allergies. I finally spent almost $500 for the allergy testing after $1900 in vet bills for chronic ear infections, and skin bumps, rash.

Even after finding out what he is allergic to, he still has outbreaks. I started doing research online and began giving him daily 2 Zyrtecs, Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar in his water, Digestive Enzymes with Pro/Prebiotics and Omega 3 fish oil. So far, so good!

It is a lot better for him than the prescribed steroids and antibiotics.

Submitted by Jean | August 21 2014 |

Thank you so much for advice. We have 5 dogs of our own & foster for local humane society. We use 3 teaspoons Apple Cider per gallon of water for their drinking water for flea deterrent. It seems to help. They won't drink tap water anymore. We have 2 w/itchy skin & trying to find home remedy instead of steroids & antibiotics. Again, thanks for your reply.

Submitted by laurie | September 24 2013 |

Old fashion pine tar soap found at most health food stores may help. It not toxic derived from natural ingredients. It costs about 4 dollars for one bar but it is rock hard soap and goes a long way. It may not cure the problem but will help with the itching and promote healing. My family has used it for years on ourselves and pets. Its a icky brown color and smells a little strange but really saves the day when it comes to relief. Only warning is as always do not get it into your eyes. The only soap safe for eyes is Johnson's no tears baby shampoo. I use a very small drop on a wet warm cloth to clean my dogs eyes. I also do the same thing to remove makeup from my eyes. It really works and does not hurt or harm your eyes. Good Luck.

Submitted by Victoria | October 7 2013 |
Submitted by Penny | October 4 2013 |

I have spent a lot of money in the past on pets with allergies & I can't do that anymore. I researched online about home remedies and then went out to get Epsom salts, olive oil, benadryl capsules and apple cider vinegar. I tested the apple cider vinegar on some areas. I put it in a spray bottle & got a cotton ball - saturated it & I really saturated it and massaged it right into my dogs skin skin. Also I sprayed all four paws and lower legs and hiney. Again very saturated. The first relief he has had has come from Apple Cidar Vinegar $2.80 for a big bottle! It's a no name brand - not toxic and I'll need to reapply it a few times, but he finally stopped scratching non-stop and slept for a couple of hours. This first round of relief has lasted about 4 hours. I don't know if its the cure - but it's looking good!! Later I put him in the tub with room temperature - cool water that was 1/2 water and 1/2 apple cider vinegar with a little bit of olive oil. For 10 minutes I just kept pouring it over his back...everywhere but his face of course. I did use a cotton ball to apply it to his ears with the AC Vinegar. His areas that he had scratched raw are nicely healing. I apply the apple cidar vinegar to his paws in the morning. I only use the Benadryl if its bad at night. Good luck!

Submitted by Alli | September 23 2014 |

I own a pitbull/mastiff mix and when I adopted him I later found out that he was allergic to EVERYTHING. Make sure that you take take them off of grains. Also don't forget chickens eat grain. Once I quit giving him chicken his skin has cleared up exponentially! Hope this helps!

Submitted by April | July 19 2013 |

I have a small to medium size dog that we got from a friend. Not sure what breed he is he's maybe 15 lbs long wiry hair that we keep trimmed. We live in the desert , dry, windy, and hot. Anyways he's constantly scratching his face to the point his eye has a cut near the corner. I try to keep it clean, he's an outside dog so that hard but I bring him in to clean it every few days. My question is, is it safe after I clean it to put a triple antibiotic ointment on it so it doesn't get infected??

Submitted by Betty | November 20 2013 |

Your dog's itchiness could be from being outside. For one thing a dog that small needs to be indoors. They are lonely outside. Dogs are social animals. If a dog is bored they will scratch at themselves or dig holes etc. Bring your dog inside and his health will improve.

Submitted by laurie | July 23 2013 |

My mom's dog is a mix breed. This last year her dog has been issues with scratching and itching. It has gotten so bad that she has chewed her self raw. She hasbe3en to the vet n received meds but they hav3 stopped working. They put a shield on n she goes bananas. They have n cont doing the fish oils n even went and changed her food to Blue. Nothing is working the vet cant seem to figure what she is allergic to. My mom is scared to let her out in the yard she is worried that a bug might start laying eggs o her open spots. We are all lost on what to do. Mom fears that her dog is miserable n might have to b put down. Is there anything else to try and do??? An ideas

Submitted by Dorie | August 18 2013 |

I have the same issue wirh my dog. Get an anti itch spray with tea tree oil on Petco. just spray the area whete she itches. It could help your dog relieve the itch and heal the sore.

Submitted by Sonia | June 30 2014 |

Wash his bed often like once a week and dont feed her
Any commercial food and add as much veggies that helps
With the skin and check that everything you feed him is
Msg gluten and dairy free and free of any preservatives or anything like
That and remember sugar has different names and most
Ingredients too so try your best and dont forget essential
Oils on the food

Submitted by Vonda | July 2 2014 |

try a product called "Dinovite
just sprinkle it on the pets food...it works wonders..natural aminos, fats,and vitamins thats cooked out of foods..

Submitted by Sandy | August 13 2014 |

where can I purchase Dinovite ?

Submitted by Kelly M | August 27 2014 |

I have used both Dinovite and VitaHound, try AMAZON. I know they are not available in stores. Apparently their probiotics need to be fresh and therefor can not sit on store shelves for long periods.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 23 2013 |

Can my dogs itching and small sores be bugs or mites that could have gotten on my self and family? Becouse we are all itching and getting sores

Submitted by Kat | July 29 2013 |

After dealing with my own allergies to dust mites, I found my terrier dog got better. I have a clean house but took down drapes, took out carpets, etc. . My allergist said dust mites saliva causes many allergies in people so why not in dogs too.

Submitted by Raven | July 4 2014 |

It sounds as if those are flea bites, which can cause flea dermatitis on both humans and dogs. Try filling a spray bottle halfway with either apple cider vinegar or white vinegar then fill it up the rest of the way with water. Once a day, spray your dog with the solution making sure to wet the skin. Fleas hate vinegar and it should help to relieve some itching.

Submitted by Linda | August 6 2014 |

I was fostering a tiny ShihTzu puppy @ he had mites scabies( the bad ones) I was itching like crazywith red tiny bumps..had to gt Rx for puppy & myself...Vet did not identify the mites...

Submitted by Tracey | July 30 2013 |

My lab has been suffering from dry skin since he was 5mths old and he is now 15mths. I went to the vet and they recommended changing dog food to something with better product which I did. They also said a antihistamine, which I did for awhile every few days no result. He sheds more than I have ever seen for his type plus I can slightly tug and clumps and clumps come out but still tons there. This been after I just brushed him. He scratches almost every few minutes. His skin doesn't have flakes but during the fall, it looks snowy (he has black fur). During the summer its so bad, he is chewing off patches. I have also used oatmeal shampoo once a month. Nothing, vet didn't seem too concerned but I need to make him itch less, I am sure it would allow both of us to sleep and his life easier.

Submitted by Alisha Franczak | June 7 2014 |

my dog also scratches a lot. I'm going to get it checked out I just rescued it I mean adopted it. Did you try any of the things in this article? Did any of them work? Thank you!

Submitted by Linda Trevor | July 12 2014 |

Alisha - I too just adopted a rescue dog. Her skin was beat red and she did nothing but scratch and bite her skin. To the point where she was raw and missing fur. My vet put her immediately on a steroid regiment which worked amazingly but now that she is dwindling the dosage, the scratching and biting is coming back. I am going to try different things- if something works I will let you know!

Submitted by Max Noriega | June 25 2014 |

both of my dogs have all the same symptoms. Took her to the vet. SAid it could be changing food or diet. My dad has been changing foods a lot. oatmeal shampoo didn't help. Vet said you could try adding cooking oil to our food. I'm assuming the dry food, but I'm also going to mix wet food in with the dry. and we have per allergy pills we've been giving them that seem to work for a while. I'm thinking of trying to mix conditioner with/water and see if that helps

Submitted by charlene | July 1 2014 |

I would try rinsing your dog with water instead of conditioner.My dog had the itchies all last summer.I must have dried her skin out with shampoo and flea stuff.Anyway all winter I never shampooed her just rinsed her and everything was great I thought she must have out grown the itchiness.But then I bathed her with people shampoo and conditioner the stuff I use and the itchiness came back.I use Panteen but I think there must be to much perfume or something in the shampoo and conditioner so I am going back to just rinsing her with tepid water.good luck

Submitted by Veronica | July 13 2014 |

Charlene, you should *never* use people shampoo/conditioner on cats or dogs. Why? Because their skin has fewer layers than humans, making them more sensitive. You should only use products made for dogs on dogs.

Submitted by charlene | August 15 2014 |

I was a hairdresser and shampoo is shampoo it is all made with sodium laurel sulphite and perfumes and emulsifiers can't see it making allot of difference the science says it is bassically the same thing

Submitted by bibi | August 19 2014 |

No, dog shampoo is for dogs..........

Submitted by PJ | July 13 2014 |

Oh gosh.. don't ever use a shampoo nor conditioner that has any perfume/scent EVER on your dog! The poor dog has allergies so why exacerbate his/her condition?

I would also remove ALL products from the house that are scented.. Remove ALL air fresheners(they are toxic to humans as well), stop all use of fabric softeners(toxic as well...are natural unscented ones out there.. for example: Seventh Generation's).

Also, stop all use of chemical scented floor cleaners. Use natural plant based dish detergent(unscented) for dishes, floors, etc. You can also use Mule Team Borax for laundry, clothes, etc. Also, switch to a natural unscented laundry detergent.

Throw out all perfumes, scented hair sprays, body lotions, and bar soaps.. can switch to a more natural unscented bar soap.

Your dog will be healthier and so will you.

Submitted by charlene | August 15 2014 |

The same thing happened to me with the panteen shampoo.I am on here again because ever since I shampooed her I can't stop the itchy s I tried water and calomine lotion in a spray bottle but leaves hair feeling funny and didn't stop the itching .Did you find anything that worked.

Submitted by Melanie | August 1 2014 |

Massage pure coconut oil into their skin. I have done it for both of my Bulldogs. No more scratching or raw, flaking skin. It's completely natural, inexpensive and NO DRUGS! And the best part is it's pretty much instant relieve for them.

Submitted by charlene | August 15 2014 |

One time when I was packbacking through central america I noticed I had got some kinda crap bug in my hair and I was in a remote area so I used a can of raid on my hair wrap in a towel and then used coconut oil .It took the itchy s away and I was told that mites and bugs can't live on your hair or scalp with the oil on it.It work from personal experiance

Submitted by bibi | August 19 2014 |

Totally agree with that I use it all the time.

Submitted by Robin Stark | September 1 2014 |

What type of coconut oil do you use & how much/often? My dogs skin is terrible right now & I'm hoping this might soothe & help her. Thanks!!

Submitted by Callie | July 12 2014 |

Check your dog's food. I have had two dogs that I have had to switch to a certain diet because of allergens. Corn, wheat and chicken are all common allergens, and most dog foods have at least one of these ingredients, often more. My pups did the same thing, dry flaky skin and constantly scratching, to the point where they would get sores and their skin would smell even if they'd had a bath the day before. Once we got them on the right food, their skin started clearing up within a week. Also be careful of the treats you give them, as they may have the ingredients you are trying to avoid.

Submitted by jmoore | September 6 2014 |

Try the apple cider vinegar and probiotics (acidophilus and bifidus). I hate it that he is so miserable, but think that may help him. I'll be praying for him.

Submitted by Carol | August 13 2013 |

Atopica at half strength for dog's weight works wonders. Also a diet of kangaroo, oatmeal, oil an molasses bought through an allergy vet.

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