Dogs can develop itching skin for a number of reasons. Sometimes, reactions to dog food can cause issues. Other times dry skin or even skin allergies can cause uncomfortable itching. As a pet owner, it's important for you to be able to notice the signs of these problems so that you can give your dog the help they need to get better.
If dogs have itchy skin, they will often rub, lick, chew, or scratch the itchy area. Scooting and head shaking can also indicate itching in these particular areas of the body. You may even notice hair loss and red skin.
If you’re noticing these issues, it’s time to give your dog some relief. While you should always consult your veterinarian about your dog's health, natural treatments are a great first-line remedy because all medications carry risks. Below, we'll discuss some common causes of itchy skin in dogs and give you some great home remedies to help soothe it.
Common Reasons for Your Dog’s Itching Skin
Before you can treat your dog’s itching skin, consider what's causing the itching. This will help you choose a treatment that gets to the root of the problem. It will also tell you if you need to go to the vet to treat the cause with medications and supplements in addition to the natural topical treatments.
Fleas are one of the most common causes of itching skin in dogs. When fleas bite, it causes an intense skin reaction. While treatment may help the itch, you must get rid of the fleas, too, or the itch will come back.
Rashes can have numerous causes, but inspect your dog’s skin for redness and feel for warm or hot spots. If you notice a rash, talk to your dog’s veterinarian about it to determine its cause. If it requires treatment, make sure you get medicine that will help.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, mites are microscopic organisms that get into the skin of a healthy animal and cause irritation, hair loss, and inflammation. Mites cause mange, which includes hair loss and open wounds that turn into crusty sores. Because mites are highly contagious, you must treat this condition with medication before using natural home remedies.
Many types of allergies will cause skin irritation. Allergies can be from many things, including:
- Dog food
- Grass and other seasonal allergens
- Dog shampoo or other topical products (ointments, sprays, etc.)
If you changed something in your dog’s routine right before the skin condition developed, it might be due to an allergy.
Irritated skin can occur due to licking, topical products, or even an injury. If pet owners rule out other medical conditions and still see irritation, it may just be irritated skin.
Yeast infections are common in dogs and often show up in areas of the skin with lots of wrinkles (armpits, between paw pads, folds in neck skin). This causes red, irritated, itchy, and flaky skin and is occasionally associated with a musty or cheesy smell. Yeast infections are a common cause of hair loss, and they can also cause ear infections.
Natural Remedies for Your Dog’s Itchy Skin & Skin Allergies
Many natural remedies for skin issues are healthy and safe for dogs, and they can provide significant relief from skin irritation. However, be careful before using natural remedies. You might find some suggestions online — like essential oils — that can be dangerous for your dog if you do them without the guidance of your vet. Always check with your vet to get their recommendations for treating your dog’s itchy skin, and make sure you treat underlying medical conditions if you need to. If there is no need for medical treatment, here are some home remedies that are completely safe and can help with itch relief.
A Nutritious Diet
Dog food allergies commonly show up in the form of skin issues, yet this doesn’t register with many pet owners because they expect to see stomach discomfort if their dog has an allergic reaction to food.
One of the most effective ways to combat skin conditions is changing your dog’s diet. There are several real success stories from pet owners who saw major improvements in their dogs’ skin and coats after incorporating healthy options from The Honest Kitchen — including our founder, Lucy Postins. In an effort to clear up constant yeast infections in her dog’s ears, Lucy turned to home cooking. She soon realized that the gentle process of dehydrating food retained more nutrients, and The Honest Kitchen was born!
If your dog suffers from chronically itchy skin, choose human-grade food products with natural ingredients like those offered by The Honest Kitchen. Specifically, look for omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful for your dog’s coat and skin. Probiotics and antioxidants in your dog's food can also benefit their skin, so check your food labels to ensure your pup is getting a nutritious mix.
Aloe vera can soothe itching skin. Once the itching stops and your dog stops licking or scratching, some skin irritation will also settle. Aloe vera is non-toxic, so you can support your itchy dog without fear that they will lick the area and make themselves sick.
Coconut oil works great for dog eczema and allergic reactions on the skin. It may even relieve the itch from bug bites and fleas. Use human-branded, edible coconut oil labeled as unrefined or virgin to protect your dog. You can rub it on their irritated skin, or you could add a little to your dog’s food to improve their diet. However, always check with your vet before adding an item like this to your dog’s food.
Let your dog soak in a colloidal oatmeal bath. Colloidal oatmeal is made by grinding oats into a fine powder and boiling it. This product has anti-inflammatory properties that cool the skin and reduce swelling, itching, and redness. Mix this in warm water and let your dog soak. If you can’t find colloidal oatmeal, regular oatmeal is non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about it hurting your pet as you work to relieve itching and allergy symptoms.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Put a mixture of 50% vinegar with 50% water into a spray bottle, then spray it on the affected areas of your dog’s skin. You can also soak your dog’s itchy paws in this mixture. However, never use apple cider vinegar on open sores because it will hurt and can make your dog’s skin irritation worse.