Dogs may itch for many different reasons and sometimes it’s for no reason. While some scratching is normal, the medical term for excessive itching is pruritus and that is a problem. Pruritus is among the most common reasons people take their dogs to the vet. The main reasons for the scratching are infection, excessively oily skin, and dry skin. The causes can be numerous. Dry skin is the most frequent issue. The causes for this are often areas with low humidity, or environmental causes like certain kinds of winter time house heating. There are some things that can be done to supplement a dog’s diet that help. (see below for more information) as well as taking measures to keep an appropriate amount of humidity where possible.
If you’ve ruled out dry skin, the next suspect in line is allergies, and food is the chief culprit there. One way that is thought to help prevent many allergies is to use probiotics when the dogs are very young like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bifidus. There is a critical window of opportunity in a dogs life when their immune system and the microbiome (bacteria) in their stomach is in “learning” mode. Exposure to the correct influences at this time can serve to eliminate a lot of health issues later on. Probiotics is one way to help their stomach and natural immune systems work better over the years.
Flax seed , fish oil and some antihistamines as a bridge while the improved diet takes affect might be the way to go. Diet can take a while to correct some of the long term health issues that crop up like pruritus (itching).
Another element you have to be careful of is bathing. Bathing too frequently, or using shampoos that are not properly PH balanced for the pet can cause itching, as can blow drying too frequently. Watch out video on bathing large dogs for more information on this.
You also may want to consult your vet about EPA/DHA from fish oil or algae, Lecithin granules, Nutritional yeast or hypoallergenic B complex, Kelp powder, Spirulina, Alfalfa, nettles or horsetail. Many of these have benefits for overall health of the dog.
And then there are things like coconut oil and the like for a more “natural” addition to our pet’s diet.
Coconut oil consists of more than 90% saturated fats (“better” fats), with traces of few unsaturated fatty acids (“bad” fats), such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Most of the saturated fats in coconut oil are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The main component (more than 40%) of MCTs is lauric acid, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. Coconut oil also contains about 2% linoleic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and about 6% oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acids).
The lauric acid in coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Capric and caprylic acid have similar properties and are best known for their anti-fungal effects. MCTs are efficiently metabolized to provide a source of fuel and energy, enhancing athletic performance and aiding in weight loss. In dogs, the MCTs in coconut oil can help balance the thyroid, helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic, the main functions of our thyroid gland.
The general consensus for dosing is 1/4 teaspoon for every 10lbs of body weight twice a day. Coconut oil has a low melting point and should mix right in with your pet’s next meal. Do you have an itchy pet? How about one that suffers from seasonal allergies? If you try any of these for your pets at home, please leave a comment and let us know what you used, whether it worked or not and whether your pet(s) would eat it willingly.