A thick healthy coat and no itching
Dermatitis simply means inflammation of the skin, and there are many causes. Dogs manifest allergic reactions primarily through the skin. Mites, mange and some illnesses and hormonal imbalances can also cause canine dermatitis. Once the underlying cause is addressed, there are many simple home remedies you can utilize to keep your dog healthy and itch-free.
Address the Root Cause
Many causes for dermatitis require veterinary treatment. If your dog has irritated skin and is constantly scratching and chewing itself, bring it to your vet to find out why. Your vet might take skin scrapings to examine for mites, mange or bacterial skin infection. If your dog has gunky ears with brown wax, that might indicate candida albicans (yeast infection.) A vet will examine your dog for evidence of fleas–a single flea can trigger miserable dermatitis in an allergic dog. A vet might want to take a blood sample to run a health panel to check overall organ functioning and for signs of infection. Thyroid and hormone levels are also diagnosed with blood tests.
If there are no significant findings, the cause for your dog’s itching might well be allergies to the environment or food. Besides allergies to fleas, atopic (airborne) and environmental allergies are the most common, followed by food allergies.
Once the cause is determined and addressed, you can tailor a treatment plan, including home remedies.
Support Your Dog’s Immune System
According to Dr. Susan Wynn, DVM, many cases of dermatitis and allergies are secondary to the root cause and often due to a lowered immune system. Some dogs have genetically inherited low immune systems, while others might be due to underlying stress, poor nutrition or chronic illness. In both cases, supporting the immune system can help.
Dr. Wynn suggests an antioxidant rich diet. Supplementing with vitamins like C, E and B-complex can boost the immune system. This can be in the form of supplements or diet.
One of the simplest ways of reducing stress, bolstering the immune system and taking your dog’s mind off of its itching is exercise and training. Walk or play with your dog every day to ensure it has enough mental and physical stimulation to keep it from being bored and scratching. Interactive toys and chew-bones will also keep it occupied.
Diet and Grooming
Dogs fed a poor diet, or weight-loss kibble, often have dry, itchy skin, according to Dr. Wynn. When dermatitis is caused by poor nutrition, the solution is to feed a diet higher in quality protein and fat. Proper nutrition will also help strengthen the immune system. Consider a home cooked or raw diet, or a high quality premium kibble.
Studies at Purdue University have shown statistically significant benefit in preventing certain cancers and other illnesses by feeding dogs cooked greens, such as kale and spinach, at least three times a week. Raw or soft-boiled eggs provide skin-nourishing linoleic acid in their natural form.
Bathe your dog only when necessary, because over-bathing dries out the skin’s natural oils. To restore proper pH balance to the skin, use a 50-50 rinse of white vinegar and water as the final rinse. Your dog will stop smelling like a tossed salad as soon as its fur is dry.