Seemingly more than ever, dogs are suffering from seasonal, environmental, and food allergies at an alarming rate. While incessant itching and scratching is certainly uncomfortable for the dog, it is also distressing for the owner to witness a beloved pet unable to find comfort in its own home. Allergy medications for dogs can be expensive and also have unwanted side effects, such as sedation. Fortunately, there are a number of natural remedies that pet owners can try at home before turning to prescription medicine.
For dogs that are suffering from environmental allergies, such as grass or pollen, it is important to remove the allergen from your pet’s skin and fur. Oatmeal contains polysaccharides (sugars) that have been proven to protect and soothe sensitive skin. Many dog shampoos exist that are oatmeal based, but an alternative solution is to create an oatmeal soak for your dog.
First, blend one cup of plain, uncooked oatmeal in a food processor until powdery. Next, draw a lukewarm bath for your pet, filling the tub to the level that your dog would be chest-deep in water. Dissolve the oatmeal powder in the bath water, and place your pet in the tub. Pour the oatmeal mixture over your dog’s back and head (avoiding the eyes), and let your pet soak for 15 minutes before toweling her off. Do not rinse the oatmeal from the skin, as it will provide a protective barrier to the allergens.
A study performed by researchers at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia found that dogs which suffered from allergies had lower levels of Vitamin E in their systems than healthy dogs. A study was performed where two groups of dogs suffering from Canine Atopic Dermatitis were given either a Vitamin E supplement, or a placebo. The dogs receiving the supplement experienced reduced skin irritation and hair loss. While pet owners should consult a veterinarian before giving their pets any supplements, the typical recommended dosage is 400 IU for small dogs and 800 IU for large dogs daily.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) relieves itchy skin in pets thanks to its natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, and is particularly effective for dogs that suffer yeast infections due to their allergies. There are two ways to administer ACV to dogs: orally or topically. For topical applications, dilute 1 part raw, unfiltered ACV with 1 part water in a spray bottle. Spray all over the body (avoiding open sores) to relieve the itch. A second option is to place ACV in your dog’s food or water bowl. The dosage for ACV is ¼ – ½ teaspoon at each meal, depending on the size of your pet.
Change in Diet
If your dog suffers from environmental or seasonal allergies, improving the quality of her diet can help. Even if your pet is not allergic to the ingredients in her current food, components such as grains, preservatives, and fillers can cause inflammation within the body that ultimately exacerbates itchiness. Look for a food that has a wholesome protein listed as the first ingredient (i.e. deboned chicken vs. chicken meal), and avoid foods that list “bran,” “by-product,” “gluten” and “meal” on the label.
Does your dog have allergies? Have you found the source and what’s the best remedy for your pup?