Consult your vet before starting any skin care regimen for your dog, and stop the treatment if your dog’s symptoms remain the same or worsen.
If your dog has itchy skin, they’re not alone. Itchy skin is one of the most common issues that bring dogs to the vet’s office. Whether it’s seasonal allergies, sensitive skin, or it simply seems to come out of nowhere, most dogs will occasionally experience some itchiness. Itchiness is often paired with dry, irritated skin and a miserable pooch. While a vet visit might be needed for severe itching, mild to moderate cases can likely be treated and solved on your own.
What Causes Itchy Skin in Dogs?
Many of the common causes of skin itchiness in dogs are environmental, like fleas or seasonal allergies. While true food allergies in dogs are fairly rare, changing your dog’s diet to a more nutritional one will help with allergies to other things. Once you’ve eliminated obvious causes, like fleas or other skin parasites, it’s time to consider other causes. Many environmental allergens can be controlled or eliminated. For pollen or mold sensitivities, try to time your walks when the pollen or mold count is at its lowest. Also, consider your home fragrances as a possible cause. Made from petrochemicals, these substances could be irritating your dog’s body.
While lifestyle changes, like giving up artificial fragrances, or changing the time of your walks, can be difficult, they also can be worth it if they help your dog with his itchy skin.
Occasional itchiness and some dry, flaky skin are nothing to be concerned about and can be addressed easily with home remedies. It’s when the discomfort becomes significant and consistent that you should be concerned and schedule a vet appointment.
How to Soothe Itchy Skin at Home
Maybe you’d like to try a few natural remedies before putting your dog on medication, or perhaps you’re going to experiment with using both medicine and natural remedies. Either way, your dog is lucky to have you as its parent! Here are a few natural remedies that may help your dog’s itchy skin.
1. Colloidal Oatmeal Baths
Colloidal oatmeal simply means very finely ground whole oat grains. It is not the same as finely ground oatmeal, because oatmeal is made from oats with the bran removed. You can buy colloidal oatmeal. Or you can grind whole oat grains yourself, although the final product won’t be as fine as a professionally ground colloidal oatmeal. But, you’ll still have to find and buy whole oat grains, so you might as well save yourself the extra DIY step and buy colloidal oatmeal.
Why should you care about colloidal oatmeal? The oat bran contains a variety of helpful compounds, including
Lipids (fats) such as unsaturated triglycerides help replenish the skin’s oils.
Beta Glucan is quite moisturizing.
Avenanthramides, which are an antioxidant that is unique to oats.
Saponins are cleansing agents, and oats contain a small percentage.
Mixing colloidal oatmeal with warm water and applying it to your dog’s skin in a bath, helps to clean the fur of trapped dust and other particles, and will soothe your dog’s itchy skin. Colloidal oatmeal is anti-inflammatory, and regular baths can help with itchiness. One great thing about this remedy is that it’s non-toxic, so it’s ok if your dog licks some of the oatmeal.
To make a colloidal oatmeal bath, use 1/3 cup oats for small dogs and ½ cup for large dogs, with extra for applying to the skin. You can also add 2 tablespoons of olive, coconut, or avocado oil and/or 1 cup of whole milk. Run a warm, but not hot bath, at least full enough that the water comes to the bottom of your dog’s stomach. Mix in your colloidal oats and any other ingredients you choose. Using a cup, pour the bathwater carefully all over your dog, focusing on the parts of their skin that are irritated. Gently rub some of the powdered oatmeal right over the itchy areas. Let your dog soak for 10 minutes. While you wait, massage and rub the oatmeal into your dog’s fur and skin. Rinse your dog thoroughly with warm water and towel off as usual.
If you don’t have colloidal oatmeal, but do have oatmeal, a regular oatmeal bath will still be very soothing.