If you find your furry friend scratching constantly, it is not a good sign! In fact, itchy skin, medically known as pruritus, is one of the most common reasons dogs are taken to the vet.
People generally assume that nonstop scratching is a sign that their pet has fleas. Although this is often the case, there are several other reasons that may cause constant itching in dogs.
Causes of Itchy Skin in Dogs
Here are a few causes behind itchy skin in dogs:
- Allergies (seasonal or diet related)(1)
- Dry skin(2)
- A yeast or bacterial skin infection
- External parasites
These are some of the things that can make your dog’s skin itchy.(3) There can also be other reasons behind this condition, such as:
- Chemical irritants
- Plant toxins
- A host of other pet health issues
Signs and Symptoms of Itchy Skin in Dogs
Irrespective of the cause, dogs suffering from an itchy skin exhibit certain signs and symptoms. Some of these signs are:
- Nonstop scratching
- Rubbing against furniture or carpeting to stop the itching
- Biting (that may lead to self-injury)
- Dry skin
- Redness of the skin
- Development of hot spots and sores
- Paw chewing
- Oozing pustules
Constant itching and scratching can lead to:
- Hair loss
- Severe skin infections
Preventing Itchy Skin in Dogs
- Bathe your dog regularly to help keep the skin healthy. If your dog hates getting into the water, you can use dry shampoo.
- Brush your dog’s coat daily.
- Wash your dog’s bedding at least once weekly.
- Avoid exposure to possible allergy triggers.
- Give your pet the right diet to help it remain healthy and strong. Look out for food allergies.
It is recommended to identify and deal with the problem as soon as possible. Delay in treatment may make it worse. To help calm your dog’s irritated skin and stop the constant scratching, you can try some simple and effective home remedies.
Stop Your Dog from Scratching
Here are 10 home remedies to deal with your dog’s itchy skin.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
The diluted form of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar is one of the best remedies for itchy skin in dogs. Apple cider vinegar comes with anti-fungal, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Apple Cider Vinegar highly effective in treating skin irritation caused by allergens and skin inflammation due to constant scratching. An apple cider vinegar solution can help restore the acidic nature of your pet’s skin, kill off pathogens, and reduce the itchiness.(4)
- Pour raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and an equal amount of water into a spray bottle.
- Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients well.
- Spray the solution all over your dog’s coat.
- Allow it to dry on its own.
- Use this remedy 1 or 2 times a day, depending upon the severity of itchiness.
2. Vitamin E
Dry skin can be another reason why your dog is constantly scratching itself. You can solve this problem with the help of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which protects the body from cell damage and boosts the immune system.
It helps moisturize the skin, thus reducing the itchiness. This oil will also promote the growth of new skin and hair in the affected areas.(5)
- Break open 1 or 2 vitamin E capsules and extract the oil. The required quantity depends upon the size of your pet.
- Rub the oil directly on your dog’s skin, so that it gets fully absorbed into the skin.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times a day until your pet gets relief from the itchiness.
Vitamin E can also be given orally. However, check with your vet regarding the recommended dosage for your specific dog breed.
3. Coconut Oil
Whether used orally or topically, coconut oil can be of great help in treating itchy skin in dogs. The lauric acid found in coconut oil contains antibacterial, antiviral, and even anti-fungal properties. The high-fat content of coconut oil helps keep the skin moisturized and also promotes the growth of healthy skin and hair.(6)
When given orally, coconut oil also helps boost your dog’s immune system.
- To apply topically, take ½ cup of extra-virgin coconut oil and add 2 drops of oregano oil to it. Mix thoroughly. Rub the mixture on your dog’s itchy spots. Do it twice daily.
- To administer orally, mix 1 teaspoon to1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil (depending on the size of your dog) into your dog’s meal. Do this once a day till you get desired results.
4. Borax and Peroxide Skin Wash
When used the right way, a mix of borax and hydrogen peroxide can help deal with the problem of itchy skin in pets. This home remedy is often used to treat mange in dogs. It is recommended to consult your veterinarian to diagnose mange and the type of mites responsible for the condition before beginning with the treatment.(7)
- Combine 2 cups of 1% hydrogen peroxide and 4 cups of warm water.
- Add 3 tablespoons of borax and mix the ingredients thoroughly.
- Use the mixture to wash your dog’s skin.
- Allow it to dry on the skin.
- Repeat daily for 2 or 3 days.
You can also use this solution to wash the bedding, toys, and other washable items used by your dog.
Yogurt is a great remedy for itchy skin due to a yeast infection. Low-fat or probiotic yogurt keeps the good bacteria in your dog’s intestines in balance, which in turn helps keep yeast infections at bay. Being a probiotic, yogurt supports your dog’s digestive health, both under normal conditions and when your pet is on antibiotics.
It also helps boost your furry friend’s immune system.(8) Plus, when applied topically, yogurt helps soothe the skin and relieve dryness.
- To apply topically, gently rub some plain yogurt on your dog’s skin. Leave it on for a few hours and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat once daily.
- To administer orally, feed your dog plain yogurt once daily for a few weeks. The quantity depends upon the size of your dog. Use 1 teaspoon for small dogs and up to 3 tablespoons for big dogs.
Being highly acidic, lemon can help eliminate microscopic parasites that lead to itchy skin in dogs. It also helps heal irritated or damaged skin.(9)
- Thinly slice 1 whole lemon, including the rind.
- Steep it overnight in a pot of hot water (use 3 to 4 cups of water).
- Use this water to give your pet a sponge bath.
- Allow it to air-dry.
- Do this once daily.
Oatmeal baths are an effective remedy for itchy skin in humans as well as in pets. Oatmeal soothes, nourishes and moisturizes the skin. It can help relieve hot spots and remove fleas, ticks, and several other allergens. This, in turn, relieves the itchiness and keeps your pet comfortable.(10)
- Add 1½ cups of ground oatmeal to a big tub filled with warm water.
- Add in a few drops of lavender essential oil.
- Bathe your dog in the oatmeal bath for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
- Rinse away the oats with warm water.
- Repeat once daily as long as your dog has itchy skin.
8. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another remedy that can instantly soothe your dog’s itchy skin! Owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, baking soda has a soothing effect on the skin. Also, it acts as a natural acid neutralizer that helps relieve the itching.(11)
- Add 1 cup of baking soda to your pet’s bath water. Bathe your dog in this water for 10 minutes and then rinse its coat with clean water. Do this once daily.
- For localized itching, prepare a thick paste using equal amounts of baking soda and water. Apply the paste on the affected areas of your dog’s skin. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then rinse it off using lukewarm water. Repeat once daily.
Aspirin is chemically also known as acetylsalicylic acid. This chemical group is mainly known for its pain-relieving (analgesic) and fever-reducing (antipyretic) properties, but it has also been proven to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties at certain concentrations. Therefore, while aspirin should not be ingested by your dog, it can be applied topically to relieve the itchiness.
- Crush 2 aspirin tablets into powder form.
- Thoroughly mix the powder with a small amount of rubbing alcohol.
- Apply it directly on the affected skin using cotton swabs.
- Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
- Repeat once daily until the itchiness stops.
Neem, also known as Indian lilac, is a natural antiseptic and insecticide, which can help with allergies or itching stemming from fleas, ticks, lice, etc. It can also help fight skin infections and reduce itchiness.(13) Neem is great for your pet’s skin.
- Boil a handful of neem leaves in a pan of water (4 cups) for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Once cool, strain the water and put it in a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution on your dog’s fur and allow it to dry on its own. Repeat once daily.
Alternatively, mix equal amounts of pure neem oil and extra-virgin coconut oil. Apply it on the itchy spots 2 or 3 times a day.
- Brush your dog’s coat once daily to control and eliminate itchy and irritated skin.
- Your dog’s body may be reacting to the grains in the dog food. Try grain-free dog food for a while to see if it lessens or eliminates the itchiness. Consult your veterinarian regarding dietary allergies to find the right diet for your pet.
- Verlinden A, Janssens GPJ, Hesta, M. Food Allergy in Dogs and Cats: A Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390591001117. Published January 18, 2007.
- “Seventh age itch”: Preventing and managing dry skin in older people. BPAC. https://bpac.org.nz/BPJ/2014/September/dryskin.aspx. Published 2014.
- Shipstone M. Approach to the Pruritic Dog. Dermatology. https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?id=5709830&pid=11372&. Published 2013.
- Gopal J, Anthonydhason V, Muthu M, et al. Authenticating apple cider vinegar’s home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect. Natural product research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29224370. Published December 11, 2017.
- Plevnik A, Salobir J, Levart A, Tavčar G, Nemec A, Kotnik T. Vitamin E supplementation in canine atopic dermatitis: improvement of clinical signs and effects on oxidative stress markers. The Veterinary record. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25205675. Published December 6, 2014.
- Dayrit FM. The Properties of Lauric Acid and Their Significance in Coconut Oil. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1007/s11746-014-2562-7. Published November 15, 2014.
- Woods WG. An Introduction to Boron: History, Sources, Uses, and Chemistry. Environmental Health Perspectives. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1566642/?page=4. Published November 1994.
- Levkovich T, Poutahidis T, Smillie C, et al. Probiotic Bacteria Induce a ‘Glow of Health.’ Public Library of Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3547054/. Published 2013.
- Dosoky NS, Setzer WN. Biological Activities and Safety of Citrus spp. Essential Oils. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6073409/. Published July 2018.
- Wynn S, Chalmers S. Alternative therapies for pruritic skin disorders. Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1096286702800330. Published July 7, 2005.
- Milstone L. Scaly Skin and Bath pH: Rediscovering Baking Soda. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(09)00493-9/fulltext. Published 2009.
- Arif T. Salicylic Acid As A Peeling Agent: A Comprehensive Review. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4554394/. Published 2015.
- Mordue, Luntz, Jennifer A, Nisbet, J. A. Azadirachtin from the Neem Tree Azadirachtaindica: Its Action Against Insects. Anais da SociedadeEntomológica do Brasil. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0301-80592000000400001. Published December 2000.