Why is My Dog Itching?
For a pet parent, seeing your dog constantly scratching, licking, biting his skin, or chewing his paws can be cause for concern - especially if you don’t know why it keeps happening.
There are many possible causes for itching in dogs which include:
Parasites: Such as fleas, mites, lice, endoparasite migration
Allergies: To parasites, food, contact drugs
Infections: Malassezia overgrowth, staphylococcal infections, and dermatophytosis
Rare Conditions: Tumors of the skin, psychogenic diseases and endocrine dermatosis [1,9]
Your vet can help you figure out the cause of your dog’s itching, give you the appropriate medications, and help you understand how to prevent future outbreaks.
It may take time before the underlying cause of your dog’s itching is fully treated. In the meantime, there are ways you can soothe your dog’s itchy skin.
10 Natural Remedies to Help Your Itchy Dog
- Inspect Your Dog’s Skin, Coat, & Paws
- Give Your Dog An Epsom Salt or Oatmeal Bath
- Clean House
- Start a Log to Track Symptoms
- Can Dog Food Cause Itching?
- Will Fish Oil Stop Dog Itching?
- Try Dog Friendly Essential Oils
- DIY Itchy Dog Spray & Rinses
- Soothing Natural Topical Applications
- Offer Distractions with Exercise & Chew Toys
Inspect Your Dog’s Skin, Coat & Paws
If your dog has been itching more than normal, or is constantly licking an area of his body, inspect his coat, skin and paws.
Sometimes burrs, thorns, grass seed and small sticks can burrow into a dog’s coat or get stuck in between paw pads. [3,4] Look for visible ticks, fleas, insect bites and other skin irritations. Even if you don’t see any fleas, be sure to check for flea dander, which is often present at the base of the spine, near the top of an infected dog’s tail. Part the fur until you see skin, and look for tiny black specs.
Itchy Dog Tip:
Make sure your dog is up to date on flea & tick preventatives.
Give Your Dog an Epsom Salt or Oatmeal Bath
If your dog is itching all the time, and nothing looks out of the ordinary after you inspect your pet’s fur, skin and paws, it’s time for a bath!
Plain, cool water is an excellent healing agent and will help you remove invisible irritants from the environment that your pet may have stepped on or rolled in - from dust to pollen, or household cleaners to lawn care granules.
How to Give a Dog an Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salts are safe for dogs, and a natural remedy to heal a dog’s itchy skin or open wounds from constant licking. Simply add 1 cup of Epsom salts to approximately 1 gallon of cool bath water. Coax your pet to sit or lie down in the bath for 10 minutes if possible, or drizzle the salted water over affected areas.
Itchy Dog Tip:
Avoid warm water - it can intensify the itch! [3,4]
Try an Oatmeal and Baking Soda Bath for Dogs
Some pet parents use a canine oatmeal shampoo or leave-in conditioner if their dog has skin allergies. It’s just as easy to create your own mixture at home to soothe itchy paw pads and skin.
Simply grind 1 cup of oatmeal into a fine powder in your food processor or blender (this is known as colloidal oatmeal). Combine with 1 cup of baking soda in cool bath water.
Let your dog’s paws soak in the tub for 5 -15 minutes. Rub oatmeal and baking soda mixture into your dog’s skin and thoroughly rinse with plain, cool water. Repeat daily if needed.
Itchy Dog Tip:
Pat your dog dry with a fluffy towel & avoid using a hairdryer unless it is set on cool. [3,4]
Vacuum your entire house - including your furniture, baseboard cracks, and your pet’s sleeping and resting areas. This will help get rid of the dust, fleas, or mites that could be behind your pet’s discomfort.
Throw away the vacuum bag so pests do not hatch inside. Wash your pet’s pillow cases, throw rugs, and bedding in hot water once a week . Also change the filters of the furnaces, air conditioners, or air humidifiers to help reduce dust and dust mites.
Start a Log to Track Symptoms
Even if your dog did not have allergies as a puppy, it is possible for them to develop at any point during his/her life. How much itching is normal for your dog?
Make a note of when your dog is most uncomfortable. Write down days when your dog is itching like crazy all the time. Does itching happen most after being outside, after a bath, after grooming, during the spring, in winter, etc.?
What are your dog’s symptoms? Is your dog itching and licking but no fleas are present? Has your dog developed a hot spot? Is your dog losing hair, throwing up, or bleeding? Does anything seem to soothe your dog’s discomfort?
Track symptoms and cross reference them with seasonal information i.e. are pollen counts high? Pollen and mold spores can cause allergies in sensitive dogs.
Share your observations with your vet so you can work together to determine triggers and keep your fur baby comfortable if seasonal patterns are developing.
Can Dog Food Cause Itching?
Yes! Dry skin is related to diet. If your dog is itching like crazy all the time, even after a bath or in winter, or gets frequent skin and/or ear infections, it’s very possible you need to address an underlying food allergy. 
Switching to a preservative-free, homemade dog food with natural supplements may be the best thing you can do to relieve your pet’s itching and significantly improve quality of life for your dog.
Try the Best Homemade Food for Dogs with Allergies Azestfor's Lamb & Rice Dog Food Recipe
Rice is a very easily digested carbohydrate for dogs, and lamb is a protein source many dogs have not encountered before.
If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, download our free Food Allergies in Dogs Guide, which will walk you through step by step on how to recognize and manage a food intolerance.
Will Fish Oil Stop Dog Itching?
One of the most common supplements dog lovers provide to their pets is fish oil, due to the healing properties found in their omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Fish oil supports heart health, keeps a dog’s coat shiny, and can even act as an antihistamine, soothing the inflamed skin in some pets. [6,7,10]
Natural Supplements For Dogs With Itchy Skin
New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel is a shellfish and like traditional fish oil for dogs it contains omega 3 fatty acids - EPA and DHA. In it's nutrients there is also an additional, third omega 3, called ETA. These rare ETA (Eicosatetraenoic) fatty acids can lower enzyme levels responsible for your dog’s skin inflammation and pain - thereby benefiting not only dogs with allergies and itchy skin,
Dogs suffering from joint pain and arthritis benefit from adding New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel to their diet the omega 3 fatty acids from green lipped mussels and the naturally occurring chondroitin and glucosamine work together synergistically to help to repair damaged cartilage in joints - increasing mobility, range of motion, and ultimately improving a dog’s quality of life.
New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Dosage For Dogs
|Weight of Dog||mg New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Powder||Included Scoop|
26 - 50 lbs
1 1/2 scoops
76 - 100 lbs
101 -125 lbs
2 1/2 scoops
01-25 lbs 1/2 scoop (250 mg)
26-50 lbs 1 scoop (500 mg)
51-75 lbs 1 1/2 scoops (750 mg)
76-100 lbs 2 scoops (1000 mg)
101-125 lbs 2 1/2 scoops (1250 mg)
500 mg scoop included
Double daily use for first two weeks.
Essential Oils for Dogs With Skin Problems & Allergies
Essential oils have become quite popular over recent years and may feel like a natural choice of treatment to offer our pets - especially if we enjoy them.
However, the AKC warns us to speak to a vet prior to using essential oils with our dogs and to proceed with caution. They should not be used with puppies, the elderly or those dogs suffering from liver disease.
Oils must be diluted due to their potency, especially for an animal with such a highly developed sense of smell. Additionally, not all oils are produced the same and can differ from brand to brand. There are also many essential oils that are toxic to dogs.
If your dog is suffering from allergies, has a hot spot, or itchy skin, do not rub essential oils directly onto the skin, their bedding, or resting places.
Use only “therapeutic grade oils from reputable companies,” and dilute with a carrier oil.
Itchy Dog Tip:
If using essential oils, always provide an “escape route” due to a dog’s highly developed sense of smell.
Mountain Savory, Oregano & Clove
Immune Support, Allergy Preventative
Anti-Inflammatory, Reduces Anxiety & Compulsive Behaviors
Anti-Inflammatory, Reduces Anxiety & Compulsive Behaviors
Anti-anxiety and Anti-depressant
DIY: Itchy Dog Sprays & Rinses
Green Tea Rinse
Green tea can be a source of relief for dogs struggling with skin allergies.
Green tea is good at reducing inflammation and protecting skin from free radicals. Add 2 green tea bags to 2 cups of water. Cool, then pour over your dog’s skin and allow the tea to to air dry, soaking into your dog’s skin.
Green tea is good at reducing inflammation and protecting skin from free radicals.
Thyme has antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties. You can add a couple of drops of thyme essential oil to rinse water after a bath. Make sure essential oils are diluted .1 to 1 percent.
Do not put undiluted essential oils directly on your dog.
Spray Bottle with Green Tea and Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar boosts the immune system, is a probiotic with good bacteria for digestion, and an anti-bacterial, antiseptic.
Simply mix 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to half a cup of cooled green tea. Mix to combine, and fill a spray bottle. Spray as needed onto affected areas.
What can I apply topically to relieve my dogs itch skin?
Can I use Aloe Vera on My Dogs Skin?
Instead of hydrocortisone, try using cool Aloe Vera twice a day to soothe minor hot spots and itchy skin. [2.5] This amazing plant has antibacterial and healing properties that can reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin from allergies. [2.5]
Evening Primrose Oil cream or German Chamomile (as 2% cream) can also be used to reduce inflammation and the amount of topical corticosteroid used. If your dog has allergies to daisies, ragweed or chrysanthemums, avoid using chamomile.
There are dog shampoos available that are infused with small extracts of aloe vera or evening primrose oil if you’d like to test a small dose during a cool bath.
If your dog has a hot spot, have them wear a properly fitted cone on their head to prevent them from chewing the area and causing an infection.
Can Coconut Oil Help My Dog’s Skin Allergies & Itching?
Coconut Oil can possibly be helpful if applied topically to cracked paws. But avoid giving dogs Coconut oil orally as it is 100% fat. 80% of which is saturated fat. This high fat content will increase the fat in a dogs diet and may create health issues including obesity, and can worsen pancreatitis. Scientific evidence is lacking to back up claims that it is effective as a anti-fungi , anti-virus or anti-bacteria.
Distractions: Exercise, Chew Toys & Treats
Just like people, dogs can get bored if they are not stimulated. A dog who is bored may pass the time itching or licking a minor irritation on her skin or paws. Left unattended, a little licking can quickly turn into an obsession or even a hot spot that may eventually require a trip to the vet.
Try to offer distractions for your fur baby if she is itchy.
Dogs need regular walks — at least 20 minutes twice a day, as well as lots of play time and regular company. By keeping your dog busy, s/he will have much better things to do than scratch! [3,4].
If you don't have the time to walk your dog, consider hiring a dog walking service or sending your dog to a play group.
Chews & Filled Kongs
Dog chews like bully sticks, antlers, or horns help your dog keep her mind off her itchy skin and may stop her from chewing or licking herself. Many dogs also enjoy the distraction of spending time digging peanut butter out of a kong. [3,4]
Itchy Dog Tip:
If your dog still won’t stop itching, dress him in a tshirt or stretchy baby onesie to protect hot spots. Last resort - try the cone collar.
Will Benadryl Help a Dog's Itching?
Yes - Antihistamines are very effective for easing short-term itches like a flare up of hives or insect bites.
Oral antihistamines that are safe for dogs include clemastine (Tavist), chlorpheniramine (ChlorTrimeton) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Call your vet for the appropriate dosage to use. 
Many dog parents ask if they can use Benadryl’s cooling itch spray on their dog’s back. Check with your vet’s recommendations here as well because it’s possible the spray has additional ingredients that should not be consumed if your dog tried to lick the spray off. It’s likely there is a safer alternative the vet can recommend.
5 Natural Ways to Kill Fleas on Dogs
Fleas can cause a condition called flea allergy dermatitis or also known as flea bite hypersensitivity. When fleas bite, they inject their saliva which contains substances (histamine-like compounds, enzymes, polypeptides, and amino acids) that induce hypersensitivity. This causes the dog to have intense itching, become restless and uncomfortable, spending much time scratching, licking, rubbing, chewing and even nibbling at the skin. 
If you have a flea problem you need to treat both indoor and outdoor your home at the same time.
You need to kill the adult fleas, the flea eggs and flea larvae- which can remain dormant for long periods of time.
Wash Your Dog
Remove your dog’s collar so you can thoroughly clean around his neck. Use a mild shampoo and get a good lather going on at the head. Work your way down to the base of your dog’s tail. Let the soap suds sit for a few minutes.
Use a Flea Comb
Use a flea comb to comb through your dog’s fur. As you remove fleas, dip the comb in soapy water to drown the fleas.
Inside the House
Wash all of your dog’s bedding and blankets in hot soapy water.
Sprinkle flea powder into the cracks of the boards, all over your carpets, etc. Then vacuum everything. When finished, empty the canister of the vacuum cleaner into your trash bin outside before storing your vacuum away.
Outside the House
Spray your yard for fleas and their eggs. You may need to use a professional grade spray with chemicals since very few alternatives are effective.
Spray Flea Repellent on Your Dog
Use a flea repellent such as Natural Chemistry Flea & Tick Spray which contains cinnamon oil, clove oil and cedarwood oil combined into a pleasant aromatic blend which naturally deters the fleas from jumping on the dog.
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