How to Help Your Itchy Dog Heal
Everything with your dog was fine. He was healthy and loving life. Then one day, you suddenly notice he is so busy itching different parts of his body — his paws and toes, ears, under his chin, his tail, back, underbelly, inner thighs, underarms, the front of his legs and even his genitals. When he began scratching the front of his legs, you heard loud thumping on your floor.
All this itching has now gotten your attention and you are wondering what is going on. It’s time for you to become a detective to find out the source of the problem and resolve it as quickly as possible. You need to also take steps to alleviate all the external itching as you look for ways to resolve whatever is not going well internally.
All this itching has now gotten your attention and you are wondering what is going on. Photo by Donna El Haber, 2017. All rights reserved.
After you determine that fleas are not the problem, you need to evaluate whether food or environmental allergies are to blame. You need to assess your dog’s diet as food truly is medicine. What you feed your dog is so important to your dog’s long-term health and well-being. In my e-book, “25 Ways to Maintain a Happy and Healthy Dog,” diet is one of the very important ways. Taking a multi-pronged approach to finding out what is causing the itching, you can assess and change your dog’s diet, use new supplementation and begin other best protocols to help your dog heal. You should also be seeking some quick remedies to alleviate any discomfort your dog is having as a result of all the itching.
Are Food Allergies the Problem?
If food is the culprit causing your dog’s itching, you will need to find out what your dog is allergic to. There are several options. In an article on Dexter’s Deli’s website at http://www.dextersdeli.com/wp-content/uploads/Ref22v5-AllergiesFood.pdf, some suggestions are offered as how you can best find out what your dog may be allergic to:
“You can get skin or blood tests done by your vet, but the results aren’t always conclusive, and may even give false results, so many vets no longer recommend these. Nutriscan is a saliva test available from Hemopet (www.hemopet.com), but it tests a very limited number of foods. We [Dexter’s Deli] sell a sensitivity test that uses a biofeedback method to ascertain food and environmental triggers; all you need to provide is saliva and hair samples and the results are emailed to you. Many vets suggest that the only true test is to eliminate the suspected ingredients for one to three months and see if symptoms subside, then reintroduce ingredients to ‘test’ them.”
If food is the culprit causing your dog’s itching, you will need to find out what your dog is allergic to. Photo by Juli Scalzi from www.RGBStock.com.
If you think food allergies are to blame, there is an article by Dr. Deva Khalsa in “Dogs Naturally Magazine” titled “The Quick Fix to Your Dog’s Allergies”. She shares about the science behind allergies and why your dog starts itching. Warning against some of the pharma drugs to suppress the itching that can do more harm than good, she also writes about some ways, both internally and topically, that can help alleviate allergies and itching. She also recommends “minimizing vaccinations” and “rotating your dog’s diet.” When dogs are fed the same meal repetitively, she affirms, they can become allergic to that food substance:
“Don’t assume that because your dog itches only in the spring or fall or summer you can rule out food allergies. Draw an imaginary line in the air and call it the threshold. Under that line sit the offending allergens. Your dog may very well be allergic to chicken and egg (which are in vaccines) or beef (also in vaccines) or nutritional yeast, or some other foods he eats commonly, but it won’t be enough to push him above the threshold line. Add in the pollens and molds in spring and this might be just enough to push him above the threshold. So it may be a good idea to change to a novel protein and rotate a few different diets that work. The reason I recommend rotating diets is that we tend to become allergic to what we’re routinely exposed to.”
Don’t assume that because your dog itches only in the spring or fall or summer you can rule out food allergies. Photo by “createsima” at www.freeimages.com.
Here are some additional articles on dog allergies:
“Dogs Naturally Magazine” provides an excellent comprehensive guide to different types of allergies.
“Whole Dog Journal” offers another excellent overview of canine allergies.
Dexter’s Deli also has an excellent article on canine allergies.
Harry’s Itching Problem
My dog Harry began itching sometime in mid-spring. I learned from several guardians and the associates at two local holistic pet stores that California’s pollen has been incredibly high this year because of so much rain that even turned its brown mountains green. I had been rotating two kinds of raw food, one turkey and the other beef, prepared locally by a company here in California. Based on Dr. Khalsa’s advice, it may now be time for me to find a novel protein or switch to a different manufacturer.
California’s pollen has been incredibly high this year because of so much rain that even turned its brown mountains green. Photo by “dlockeretz” at www.freeimages.com.
The very high pollen count in California may have adversely affected Harry’s immune system. He may also have been affected by the stress my husband and I have been under in having to move three times in two years. His itching began shortly before our third move that was in the spring. Because we have been living in townhomes, Harry no longer has a back yard to freely romp in. In the three developments we have lived in, Harry has experienced the unpleasant experience of off-lead dogs running up to him. In all instances, we were able to protect him, but he has understandably become reactive to dogs and now wants to be the first line of defense when he sees other dogs.
Another issue that is often to blame for an itchy dog is a yeast infection. Indeed, I think Harry has a yeast infection, something he had once before. The associates at Nature’s Farmacy are wonderful in recommending what to do if your dog has a yeast infection. You can contact them at (770) 284-8969.
Two of the products they recommended for Harry are Ultimate Vitamin and Probiotic Max. If your dog’s food does not include a source of calcium, they also recommend KA Calcium. Extra virgin coconut oil is great for a dog’s health and in combating yeast. On their website, they also have a diet for dogs with yeast infections that you can download at https://naturesfarmacy.com/user-friendly-diet-for-dogs-with-yeast-infection.html and a laminated card you can order for free at https://naturesfarmacy.com/publications/pubdiet-card-yeast.html.
Nature’s Farmacy offers this laminated card with instructions on how to create a homemade diet for dogs that have yeast. Photo of card from www.naturesfarmacy.com.
Coconut oil offers many benefits for both people and dogs. You can check out C.J. Puotinen’s article on its many internal and external benefits at https://www.scribd.com/doc/298341748/crazy-about-coconut-oil-by-cj-puotinen.
Here are three other articles recommending use of coconut oil for its many benefits:
Recently there has been an assortment of articles questioning the health benefits of extra virgin coconut oil, saying that olive oil and nut and seed oils are superior for heart health. You have to read the articles on both sides and decide for yourself. For now, I am continuing to use coconut oil both for Harry and for my family. For those who affirm its many benefits, helping to combat yeast infections is among them.
Some of the articles questioning its benefits can be found at these sites:
When Harry began itching, I stopped using any fruit or vegetables other than the ones that were mixed into his commercial raw food. In fact, we stopped feeding him anything but his own food, some occasional salmon and his all-meat treats. My husband and I wanted to avoid using any carbohydrates or starches that would turn to sugar and feed the yeast.
The staff of Dexter’s Deli in Carlsbad, CA, is very helpful and offers guardians help with all sorts of canine issues. They have an excellent resources section on their website at www.dextersdeli.com.
Another local holistic pet store in San Diego’s North County, Dexter’s Deli, offered some excellent advice. On its website, it has an article devoted to systemic canine yeast infection that you can access at http://www.dextersdeli.com/wp-content/uploads/Ref18v4-Yeast.pdf.
In this excellent resource, they explain symptoms and recommend books on the subject. They also have a recommended protocol that includes detoxification, a change in diet, repopulating your dog’s gut with good bacteria, and what to do if you have followed that protocol and your dog is still itching. The four supplements they recommend are probiotics, digestive enzymes, raw-unfiltered apple cider vinegar and coconut oil.
NZYMES Yeast Kit Program
They also recommend NZYMES Yeast Kit Program that includes Antioxidant Treats or Granules, Ox-E- Drops, Black Leaf Tincture, and Back-Pac Plus supplement. They suggest using the full program for at least two months combined with recommended diet changes.
Other products they recommend to combat your dog’s yeast infection include:
Wholistic Pet Coconut Oil
Metagenics Ultra-Flora Plus
Herbsmith MicroFlora Plus
Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes & Probiotics
Answers “Additional” raw fermented goat milk
Braggs Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
Bragg’s Raw-Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar has many uses. One of them is to help relieve itching on a dog’s skin. Another use is to put some into your dog’s food to help balance his Ph level and help heal yeast infections. Photo from www.clnf.org.
Currently for Harry, I have started out adding ¼ cup of raw fermented goat milk in each meal and built up to ½ cup. I cut back on a little of his food when I saw he was putting on some weight. The good news is that he loves the milk and, although he is still itching, he is doing so much less often. It takes a few weeks to see if this alone will solve the problem. If it doesn’t, we will change his diet and then begin with the NZYMES Yeast Kit Program. To read about the many benefits of adding raw fermented goat milk to your dog’s diet, go to http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/goat-milk-for-dogs/.
I am also using raw-unfiltered apple cider vinegar, diluted in water, externally on Harry. I have been diluting it in Willard’s Water, which is another wonderful product that can help relieve itching and inflammation. To learn more about it, go to https://www.willardswater.com/. On that site, you can access information about its uses for pets at:
You can also read a “Whole Dog Journal” article that CJ Puotinen wrote about the benefits of Willard’s Water for dogs. I am soaking a wash cloth in the apple cider vinegar and Willard’s Water combination and gently putting it all over Harry’s body, especially his paws and other areas he licks most. You can also put some in a spray bottle and apply it that way. Additionally, I am adding one teaspoon of raw-unfiltered apple cider vinegar to every meal.
There are anti-itch shampoos you can use to help your dog feel better. Nature’s Specialties has a variety of shampoos and conditioners to choose from to help soothe your dog’s skin and relieve itching. You can check out their array of products at http://groomersmall.com/NS_Products.html.
Quick Relief Neem Shampoo is one of them. Quick Rescue Medicated Foaming Pet Wash is another. Following use of an anti-itch shampoo and conditioner, I have read several articles recommending using an after-rinse of raw-unfiltered apple cider vinegar diluted in water poured all over a dog’s body. Some recommend rinsing it off and others recommend just drying your pet after application. Here are some articles with information about the uses of raw-unfiltered apple cider vinegar:
Ways to Boost Immune System
The best way to keep your dog healthy is through minimal vaccinations, a healthy species appropriate fresh diet, and proper supplementation that includes maintaining a healthy gut. You should also avoid using any harsh toxins or chemicals in your home and on your lawn, or using them on your dog either externally or internally.
Other factors that can help boost your dog’s immune system are to provide as stress-free an environment as possible, give your dog ample exercise and play, and do whatever you can to build a healthy immune system.
Here are several articles about how you can boost your dog’s immune system:
This “Dog’s Naturally Magazine” article mentions herbs, plants, mushrooms and other natural additions to your dog’s diet that can help boost your dog’s immune system. They include Echinacea, Paul d’arco, suma, medicinal mushrooms, cordyceps, AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound), Astragalus membranaceus, aloe vera, Alkylglycerols, Colostrum and Lactoferrin, Glutathione, Mangosteen and Beta-Glucan.
Dr. Will Falconer recommends these five ways to boost your dog’s immune system: Echinacea, Reishi mushrooms, four other types of mushrooms and olive leaf extract.
This article by Dr. Randy Kidd offers an overview of keeping your dog and his immune system healthy.
This article by Dr. Karen Becker talks about the importance of maintaining a healthy gut for your dog and selecting the right probiotics.