How To Stop Your Dog From Itching: Dog Itch Relief Explained
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It’s not uncommon for dogs to itch and the likelihood that you’ve seen your dog scratching itself or rubbing up against a wall is quite high. However, the issue comes in when the scratching occurs too often or to such a degree that your dog starts to harm itself.
I’ve seen this happen before and it’s not a pretty site. Unlike humans, dog’s often don’t know when to stop and they can cause serious bleeding or wounds when they scratch too much.
Once this starts happening, it’s a hassle not only for the dog (who can’t express the problem to you) but also for the owner, as now you not only have to worry about treating the itch but the wounds or sores that come as a result of not treating the itch.
So, the first key to preventing the issue from getting any worse is to ideally try and identify the source of the itching as soon as possible and try to treat the issue as effectively as you can. However, this is where the real trouble comes in.
In this article, I hope to shed some light on some of the most common causes of itchy skin when it comes to pooches and hopefully, stop your dog from shedding fur, suffering unnecessarily or causing itself harm.
As a concerned pet owner, it’s important that you try to educate yourself as much as possible when it comes to your pet’s health as you can save yourself a heap of time, money and trouble by treating these problems sooner than later.
Vet fees are expensive, so by treating as much of the issue as you can by yourself with natural or holistic medicines you can treat and prevent the onset of a lot of health issues quickly, safely and cheaply. So keep reading for more information.
Itchy Dog: Identifying the Cause of your Dog’s Itch
This is easily one of the most challenging parts of treating your pet because unlike humans, dog’s obviously cannot describe their symptoms to you, tell you what they ate or point out their allergies to you.
This means that a vet basically has to go over a long list of possible causes for the issue and use his/her medical experience and the power of deduction to try and identify and isolate what could be causing the problem in the first place before the can set about laying out an effective treatment.
And when I say a ‘long list’ of possible causes, I mean a really long list. A simple Google search will reveal just how many different factors can affect your dog’s skin and ultimately cause itching, irritable and dry skin to form on your pooch.
Some of the most common causes for itchy skin on your dog is insect bites, fleas and ticks. Because dogs enjoy running around outside and getting dirty, they’re highly likely to come into contact with a host of parasites and insects that can bite and infect your dog leading to itchiness.
If your dog suffers from allergies to these insects or parasites then their symptoms are likely to be worsened as your pet may have an abnormal reaction to the bite. This is best identified by examining the area of the itch and looking for any signs of redness or swelling in the general area or by looking for the formation of hives or bumps on the dog’s face and muzzle.
If this is the case, then you’re going to have to treat the wound with antiseptic agents (or essential oils) and probably put your dog on a light antibiotic course to help fight the infection. One of the other more common causes for itchy skin in dogs is actually something we tend to overlook more often than not – the weather.
If you live in a dry area with low humidity, it’s likely that your dog’s skin will dry out more easily than usual as the natural oils that keep its skin and hair moist and hydrated will evaporate more easily under these circumstances and could result in dry and irritable skin.
The same applies to using a blow dryer on your dog – it’s important that you keep the temperature low.
The best way to identify this is by touching your dog’s skin. If it starts scratching immediately then it most likely has dry skin and thankfully, this issue is a lot easier to treat than the next one.
This is my personal pet peeve of having a pet and it’s something that even keeps vets up at night. I’m referring to allergies of course.
Many vet’s and pet healthcare specialists have noted that there’s been a rise in the amount of allergy-related issues with regards to dogs and there are a number of suspected reasons as to why this may be.
Some say it has to do with the excessive amount of vaccination protocols that dogs are being subjected to, others believe that it may due to poor breeding practices and most seem to concur that it has something to do with the large amount of processed food that we are feeding our pets.
Either way, the truth is that identifying a specific allergy in dog’s is a real challenge as it means a vet has to backtrack through a large amount of variables that may be causing the problem in the first place.
Everything from food, medication, bites, genetics, plants, grass, materials and even pollen can all be possible causes for an allergic reaction.
So if you suspect that this may be the case, then it’s imperative that you get your dog to a vet and follow his advice as carefully as possible because it will change from dog to dog and from situation to situation.
You may also have to spend a bit more money on medications or special foods from then on as a means of avoiding the allergic reaction or lessening the effects of the issue.
Top Essential Oils For Dogs Itch Relief: Lavender, Coconut, Chamomile, Peppermint, Myrrh
Lavender is fast becoming one of the most popular natural treatments for dogs with itchy skin and a wide variety of other issues for that matter.
It’s safe, effective and relatively cheap when compared to many of the potentially harmful pharmaceutical drugs out there that can often cause more harm than good.
Lavender is rich in antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which makes it highly effective at removing germs, bacteria and insects/parasites from the surface of your dog’s skin as well as preventing them from gathering again over time as it tends to stick to your pet’s skin and helps to build up a protective barrier against germs and bacteria.
It can also help to soothe and hydrate your dog’s skin and this will help to counter the itchiness that is associated with dry weather and the loss of natural oils and that usually keep your dog’s skin and hair protected against itchiness and general discomfort.
I would definitely recommend keeping a vial of this stuff in your home for any skin related issues your dog may experience – you can even use it on yourself.
As many of you will already know, coconut has become all the rage in the beauty sector for us humans because of it’s tremendous health benefits and the oils ability to heal, nourish and rejuvenate our skin.
However, few realize that this oil is just as good for your dog’s skin as it is for yours and can help to relieve dryness, itchiness and keep your pooch’s coat looking healthy and soft throughout the year.
But the benefits of coconut oil don’t stop with the topical use of the oil, it’s also highly effective at strengthening your pet’s coat and skin from within. By giving your dog a teaspoon worth of the oil on a regular basis (once a week is what I’d recommend), you can increase it’s ability to absorb nutrients and bolster your dog’s immune system, helping to prevent the spread of infection and allergies a bit more.
The oil is also rich in fatty acids which are essential for maintaining a healthy coat and keeping your dog’s skin in good condition. This is a much cheaper option than antibiotics or supplements and is a lot healthier too. Plus it great for you and your family as well – an all-round win-win situation.
Chamomile is an excellent source of respite for an itchy dog and goes a step further than simply treating the superficial itchy skin. For use on dogs, I’d recommend sticking with Roman Chamomile oil as it’s more effective than German Chamomile on a dogs tough skin and coat, plus will provide a longer lasting layer of protection.
I personally prefer mixing chamomile with lavender and eucalyptus oil to create a more potent natural rub that helps to alleviate dry, irritable skin more effectively than when it’s used on its own and can also be added to DIY shampoo recipes to help keep your dog clean and free of germs, bacteria and pests/parasites.
Roman Chamomile is rich in antibacterial properties and also has strong analgesic qualities which can help to relieve the pain associated with insect bites or infected wounds and ultimately help to ease your dog’s scratching before it causes any further harm.
Next to lavender oil, this is probably one of the most versatile essential oils that you can use on your pet as it has a wide variety of uses beyond simply treating your pet’s skin. With regards to the skin, peppermint oil is great at relieving the symptoms of fungal and parasitic infections as well as bacteria such as ringworms, blisters, scabies, mites, fleas and ticks.
However, when ingested, the oil helps to treat high temperatures which can be related to a fever which is quite common when your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction or a parasitic infection.
Peppermint oil is also a great way to regulate the amount of oil on the surface of your skin which helps maintain a consistent balance of oil throughout the year, hydrating the skin when it’s dry and balancing out the oils when humidity is high.
It’s also a potent natural antiseptic agent which means that it can help to stop the spread of bacteria and germs from causing infections if your pet is suffering from any open sores that may be caused by insect bites or parasites.
Niaouli is perfect for those who suspect that their dog may be suffering from allergies because it has natural antihistamine and antibacterial properties that make it effective at containing the symptoms of certain allergies as well as preventing the spread of certain types of infection.
However, I would always recommend discussing the use of any essential oils for treating allergies or other health issues for that matter with your vet before doing so as certain dogs may be allergic to that specific essential oil and using it as a treatment could only worsen the issue further.
That being said, they are generally a lot safer than most pharmaceutical treatments – especially antibiotics and should be the first step towards treating your dog’s health issues.
Oils to Avoid Using on Dogs
While a lot of praise can be given to essential oils and their healing benefits with regards to their ability to heal and treat a wide variety of ailments that may affect your pooch, the truth is that not all of them are safe for general use on your dogs and even when using oils that are deemed safe (such as the ones listed above), it’s imperative that you follow a few basic guidelines.
For instance, it’s imperative that you always dilute an essential oil in a suitable carrier oil before applying it to the surface of your dog’s skin.
This is the best way to ensure that your dog doesn’t suffer from a drastic negative reaction and can increase the oil’s effectiveness. Suitable carrier oils are almond oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, castor oil and olive oil.
Some essential oils to avoid using on your dog are tea tree, oregano, wintergreen and thyme because they have been noted as having drastically negative effects on the health of a dog and can affect its respiratory system, cause inflammation and general skin irritation as well as leading to infections and swelling.
It’s also imperative that you use essential oils in very light doses and avoid coming into contact with your dog’s eyes or other sensitive areas like the groin or anus as this can cause discomfort and irritation.
Is Eucalyptus Oil Safe For Dogs?
The short answer to this is yes, it is. In fact, it’s not only safe, but it’s highly effective at treating both topical and internal health issues and can be used to help reduce the effects of itching on the surface of the skin, reducing the signs of infection (it’s a potent antibacterial and antiseptic agent) and can even help to treat flea and tick infections.
It’s also great for relieving the symptoms of bad breath and can be mixed with peppermint oil to help freshen up your dog’s breath, treat the symptoms of a fever and ensure that your pet a healthy and working digestive system – which in turn helps to promote a stronger and healthier coat. It’s well worth adding to your essential oil collection or to simply keep on hand for those pet-emergencies.
Other Natural Itchy Dog Remedies
One of the easiest ways to help treat your dog’s itchy skin is also one of the most common ways – simply giving your dog a bath. However, I wouldn’t recommend making the water too hot, as this can strip the natural oils from your dog’s skin and lead to dry and irritable skin. So lukewarm water and no shampoos!
Try and stick to natural oils or even just a nice, gentle scrub to get rid of any parasites or bacteria on the surface of the skin. Epsom salts also work really well here and can work wonder at keeping your pet’s coat shiny, healthy and parasite-free.
However, if you notice that this hasn’t worked after a day or two, using a combination of essential oils and a chemical-based anti-flea or tick shampoo is the highly recommended as the sooner you get rid of this parasites, the sooner your pet will be free of itching and discomfort.
Apple cider is also a wonderful natural treatment and can be used to help reduce the effects of sore, itchy or uncomfortable skin as well as keeping ticks and fleas at bay.
Simply mix half a bottle’s worth of apple cider vinegar with half a bottle’s worth of warm water to make a simple spray that can be used throughout the year to both keep your pooch smelling better, looking healthier, itching less and staying obedient at a fraction of the cost of most conventional pet hygiene sprays.
After spraying it’s also important that you brush your dog regularly so that you help to get rid of any excess oil, dirt, grime and parasites that may be lingering on the surface of your dogs skin. This also helps to regulate your dog’s oil production and will ensure that your pooch’s skin is always balanced and in good condition – much like brushing our own hair as humans is important for maintaining a healthy oil balance.
But these are just some of the cheaper and quicker options available to you as a pet owner. The internet is loaded with creative, healthy and natural alternatives for you to experiment with – so be sure to do some research before you spend all that money on a pharmaceutical or conventional dog product.
No one like an itchy dog – they’re annoying and it’s painful to watch your beloved pet in agony, unable to express the issue. So the sooner you locate the source of the problem and begin treatment, the better.
A clean dog is a healthy dog and a healthy dog is a happy dog. While you should necessarily bath your dog too often once a month or every two months is a great way to ensure that their coat stays clean and fresh and that their skin is maintained and balanced so as to assure that they don’t start to itch.
Identifying your dog’s allergies is also important for ensuring their long-term health and being able to prevent your dog from falling ill as often as possible is the best way to ensure they become strong and save yourself a heap of money as well.
Essential oils are your friend here – so don’t be afraid to get a little creative and try concocting a few of your own DIY shampoo recipes or mixtures as a means of keeping your dog’s coat smelling and looking amazing, as well as nurturing your pooch’s skin health.
They’re cost-effective, reliable and healthy alternatives to the expensive medication you’re going to encounter at the vet, so do your research and try them out as a possible first step towards treatment before falling back on pharmaceutical products. You and your dog will be grateful for the results.