Lays down, scratches. Stands up, chews her paw. Sits down, sighs and stares at you, waiting for you to do something that eases her discomfort.
It’s a familiar picture to anyone who’s dealt with an itchy dog. While there are many reasons a dog might itch—from allergies and autoimmune issues to a bug bite—the immediate problem at hand is that your dog can’t stop scratching and chewing, and is pretty much miserable. No one wants to see that.
With my own dog’s extensive skin problems, itching has pretty much been a way of life for several years. While dealing with the larger underlying issue has been key in cases like his, equally important is keeping him as comfortable as possible not only for comfort’s sake but to prevent injury he can easily inflict on himself with aggressive chewing or scratching.
To that end, here are 6 natural skin soothers that helped ease the itch for my dog.
Nature’s Specialties Wham Anti Itch Spray, which is antimicrobial and antifungal, has helped with my dog’s itching from allergic flareups and yeast overgrowth more than any other product we’ve tried—and I’m not exaggerating when I say I have a cabinet full of products. It contains tea tree oil, aloe vera, salicylic acid, vitamins A, D and E. I’m also a fan of that same company’s Aloe Veterinary Cream, which I have found useful for dry, itchy skin. You can also use fresh aloe vera topically if you know how to cut it to avoid using the yellowish aloe latex layer between the skin and the inner leaf juice (which is the part you do want to use). That latex portion can be very irritating and create a strong laxative effect when ingested. Though most commercial aloe products remove the latex, you can purchase a food grade one or avoid using whole leaf products just to make sure.
Make sure to get alcohol-free, vegetable glycerin-based witch hazel to avoid the isopropyl alcohol used in many witch hazel products. This type of alcohol is toxic when too much is ingested (and if your dog is anything like mine, he will definitely want to lick it). Put some of the witch hazel on a cotton round and place it on the itchy spot.
Apple Cider Vinegar
If you think your dog is itching as a result of yeast overgrowth, you can try a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar sprayed or dabbed on the itchy spot. Start with a small area first to make sure your dog doesn’t have a negative reaction. If the skin is too irritated or has an open wound, don’t use the mixture because it will sting.
Tea Bag Compresses
My dog has the full gamut of itch, which means, yes, even his eyes get itchy. One trick that really helps is as simple as a tea bag. Prepare tea as you normally would, but use 2 chamomile or green tea bags. Before adding your usual milk and honey, take out the tea bags and allow them to cool, or even stick them in the fridge for a little chill, and then place them on your dog’s eyes. You might have to work up to it if your dog is weird about stuff like that (which I can’t say I blame him). Make sure you have plenty of treats handy as you slowly work up to applying one of the tea bags over one of his eyes. When he sees you’re not trying to hurt him, he should start to relax. And then you can relax with a strong cup of tea.
I really can’t say enough good things about oregano oil. I had read about its anti-everything properties (antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal) and decided to try it in my dog’s ears for his chronic ear problems. Conventional medicine just wasn’t cutting it, so I had to try something else. During one of his bouts with ear itching, I applied it to his ear flaps with a cotton round and it worked quicker than anything else I’d tried. It really calms the itch. Make sure to do your research and purchase a high quality, pre-diluted brand (oregano essential oil must always be diluted). Also, avoid use around cats.
With all the positive buzz surrounding coconut oil, I gave it a whirl to see if it could provide my dog’s itchy skin with some relief—and it worked. It’s especially helpful topically when his skin is really dry and around his eyes, which is prone to dryness.
Unfortunately, there usually isn’t one grand solution that will resolve an itching dog’s issues. But there are some natural supportive tools you can use to ease the suffering a bit. And remember, getting to the root of the itch is key. Often times diet is playing a key role in your pet's itchiness.
If you're interested in learning about how The Honest Kitchen has helped support pets who experience frequent itchiness, tryreading Wiggles' story: an unhappy, itchy dog who finally found relief!
Jessica Peralta has been a journalist for more than 15 years and an animal lover all her life. She has had dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, frogs, and rabbits. Her current children are a German shepherd named Guinness and a black kitten named Riot (and he lives up to that name). It’s because of her love for animals that she focused her journalistic career to the world of holistic animal care and pet nutrition. In between keeping Riot and Guinness out of mischief, she’s constantly learning about all the ways she can make them healthier and happier.