All dogs itch and scratch; it’s a basic fact of canine life. However, there is a significant difference between the occasional scratch to the back of the ear and a consistent, desperate scratch to quell an itch that will not go away.
There are many causes of persistent itchiness amongst dogs; the culprit can be anything from parasites to dermatitis to manage to allergies. Many over-the-counter and prescribed medications are available as solutions, but harsh chemicals on your dog’s skin may make matters worse. Steroids and antihistamines can sometimes do more harm than good. As such, more dog owners are looking for natural remedies to end their dog’s discomfort. Here are some of the top natural means by which to beat the itch.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an affordable way to treat your dog’s itchy skin. As a natural anti-inflammatory, it serves a dual purpose as a solution to dry skin and as a natural flea repellant.
Be sure to purchase the raw, unfiltered kind as that contains the nutrients that will end the tich for your dog. Just mix the apple cider vinegar with water (half and half) in a spray bottle and gently spray the solution into the dog’s skin. Avoid spraying any open wounds as this will hurt your dog. You can also add two cups of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath, so your dog soaks up the benefits of this natural remedy.
It’s an oldie but a goodie; many people are familiar with the healing properties of aloe vera, often considered an old-fashioned plant. However, the properties of aloe vera are as true today as they ever were. Slicing open the skin of an aloe vera plant will produce a thick gel that is a natural way to treat your dog’s injuries and itchy hot spots. Apply the gel directly to the affected areas and allow to dry. Repeat as often as needed.
Lavender Essential Oil
As with apple cider vinegar, lavender is well known as a holistic powerhouse. It is capable of handling all of the following duties:
- Analgesic; it reduces swelling
- Anti-inflammatory; it serves as a pain-killer
- Antihistamine; calms allergic reactions
- Antiseptic; prevents the growth of bacteria
- Antifungal; destroys harmful fungi
In short, lavender does it all, and its multi-pronged attack on itchiness and swelling has been used on dogs for years. Make sure that you either use actual lavender from your garden or purchase a high-quality brand of essential oil for use on your dog. Use lavender in these ways to help your dog:
- Tea rinse: crush dried lavender flowers and stems and dilute with water. Use the diluted tea as a skin rinse to soothe the dog’s skin
- Apply essential oil topically: place 1 – 2 drops on the dog’s back or neck
- Use a diffuser: the lavender will be diluted by the diffuser and sprayed as a mist into the room
A lesser known remedy in the West, neem oil is a vegetable-based oil that is pressed from the seeds and fruit of the neem tree in India. The oil has successfully been used as an anti-inflammatory for thousands of years. It is non-toxic for pets, and may also be applied for general inflammation and parasite treatment.
Place 4 – 5 drops of neem oil in your dog’s shampoo, apply it to your dog’s skin, and lather. Let the lather set for 7 – 10 minutes, then rinse.
The oatmeal bath is another old-fashioned remedy that still works and is inexpensive. You can ground the oatmeal in a blender or food processor, or you can purchase baby oatmeal as the oats are already in a smaller size. Combine 1 – 2 cups of oatmeal with 1 cup of baking soda in a tub with warm water. Mix the products and let your dog soak in them for up to 20 minutes, then rinse.
Usually this herb is used in meals and sauces, but it is also full of antioxidants, and more importantly for an itchy dog, flavonoids, an anti-inflammatory plant metabolite. Place a few drops in a cup of your dog’s water or a spray bottle and apply directly to your dog’s skin.
Coconut oil has healthy fats that can relieve dry, irritated skin. Directly massage cold pressed coconut oil into the dog’s coat all the way to the skin. You can also use coconut oil herbal rinses, however, use the wash on a small area of your dog’s skin to check for allergic reactions. If there are no adverse reactions, use the coconut oil press 1 – 2 times a week.
End the Itch Naturally
Rather than turn to expensive steroids and messy topical medications, you can try natural and herbal home remedies that may give your dog relief without the risk of side effects. Always speak with your veterinarian about appropriate solutions to severe allergic reactions or debilitating skin conditions like mange. However, if your dog is suffering from mild allergies, a flea or tick bite, or some hot spots, these holistic approaches might be just what your dog needs to stop the scratch and end the itch.