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Does your pup have an itch he just can’t scratch, despite all the scratching? Is watching him roll and wiggle across your carpet, desperately trying to make it stop, driving you both crazy? Thankfully there are many natural, effective solutions that will have you both sighing with relief – from diet to topical treatments.
First, What’s Causing It?
According to Dr. Emily Rothstein of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology, the most common causes of dry, itchy skin are flea allergies, environmental allergies (like pollens and house dust) and food allergies. Certain breeds, like Retrievers, Setters, and Terriers, are more affected, but all dogs are potentially prone. Your vet can verify any allergies or skin conditions, as well as prescribe medication for serious ailments. If it’s diet related, or you’d like some extra ideas on how to help your dog at home, read on.
Add Oils and Omega 3’s To Their Diet
Everyone’s been raving about the benefits of coconut oil for a while, and now it’s our dogs’ turn to join the club. It can improve your pup’s skin and coat quality and reduces allergic reactions. Let your pup lick some straight from the spoon or mix in a small amount into their food twice a day—start with a quarter teaspoon per day for small dogs and puppies and one teaspoon for large dogs, eventually you can work up to about one teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight per day.
Dr. Rothstein says that omega fatty acids can be helpful in combating itchy skin: Olive oil is another great way to add them to your pup’s diet (around five to six drops in your pup’s food twice a day until you notice a difference and then reduce it to a few). Other great sources are flax seeds, fish oil and sunflower oil.
Eliminate Grains, Corn and Wheat
Some dogs are allergic to corn, wheat and other grains, which can cause itchy, irritated skin. Dr. Rothstein says the other most common allergens are often the proteins that dogs are exposed to, so eliminating these foods can help to treat and relieve itchy reactions. Many commercial pet foods are loaded with processed and genetically modified ingredients, which can irritate your dog’s skin, as well. A natural, low-processed diet that is free of chemical preservatives and artificial fillers can help soothe your pup’s itchy skin from the inside out.
Try Natural Topical Treatments
Oatmeal is a reliable solution: it’s a nourishing and moisturizing ingredient that also relieves irritations and balance pH levels for immediate relief. You can use an oatmeal shampoo or make your own oatmeal rinse, by grinding up oats in a blender until it reaches a flour-like consistency. Add to your dog’s bath water and mix thoroughly until it looks milky. Soak your pup then rinse off gently.
Another great topical solution to calm your pup’s irritated skin is to make a baking soda paste that you can apply to the affected area. Just mix together a solution of baking soda and water in equal parts, creating a thick paste. Apply it to the irritated area and leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse. Dr. Rothstein also reminds us that skin can be kept healthy with regular brushing and bathing, but be forewarned: there is such a thing as too much bathing. Too many baths can strip natural oils that protect the skin, which may mean your dog’s coat will lose some luster, but also exacerbate the itchiness.
Add Supplements to Your Dog’s Diet
If you’ve tried all of the above and your pup still has uncontrollable itchy skin, you might want to consider some supplements: Digestive enzymes help in the breakdown and absorption of food in your dog’s gut—and when they’re better able to absorb the nutrients and vitamins from their food, it can help prevent allergy symptoms. Enzymes also facilitate the elimination of toxins and waste from their body, resulting in an overall healthy skin and coat. You can find digestive enzymes at your local health and pet foods stores; be on the lookout for those formulated safe for animals.
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