As a pet parent, it can be daunting to see your pup itching obsessively due to allergies or chronic skin conditions. As such, you’re probably wondering what the best dog scratching remedies are. Which remedies come with scientific proof? And are there any products to avoid?
Scratching remedies for dogs can be as simple as a soothing oatmeal bath, to antihistamines bought over the counter. Regardless of the option you pick, be sure to talk to your vet about your dog’s condition. It is important that your vet is aware of your dog’s condition if they are not already so that a formal diagnosis can be made.
DIY Best Dog Scratching Remedies
If your dog has itchy skin, there may be some items in your cupboards that can offer temporary relief. However, be aware that while these remedies have beneficial uses, they are not the cure-all that some owners might believe they are. Before you decide to use a home remedy for your dog, talk to your vet first. It is also important to note that these remedies are for the skin only – do not attempt to give your dog coconut oil, for example, to treat thyroid dysfunction or weight loss as there is little evidence to support this use. So, what are the best dog scratching remedies you can make at home?
Chamomile & Herbal Tea Soaks
Chamomile is a herbal supplement with anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant properties. According to VCA Hospitals, it can be given topically to soothe inflamed skin, and internally to help with gastrointestinal conditions, as directed by a vet. A 2019 literature study found evidence that chamomile also shows wound-healing properties in dogs. Similarly, green tea is packed with antioxidants and offers antibacterial and antifungal effects. However, it also contains small amounts of caffeine and theobromine, both of which are harmful to dogs in large doses.
With these points in mind, it’s best to use herbal remedies topically and to avoid letting your dog drink any chamomile or green tea mixtures. First, fill your bathtub or sink with warm water. Then, let a few tea bags soak in the water for up to 5 minutes. Lastly, make sure that you remove the tea bags from the water and check that it’s not too hot or cold for your dog, and let your dog soak in the water for five minutes. To spot treat your pup’s irritated skin, you can apply a water and tea mixture directly to the affected skin instead.
50/50 Apple Cider Vinegar Water Spray
Research shows that apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is both antifungal and antimicrobial. But does this vinegar benefit dogs, too? Research shows that apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is both antifungal and antimicrobial. Because of this, some people use apple cider vinegar to help with conditions like eczema and acne. But does this vinegar benefit dogs, too? To date, there are no studies to suggest the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar for dogs. One study briefly mentions using apple cider vinegar to alleviate oral papillomas in dogs. However, the effectiveness, the amount used, and the reasoning for its use are not described.
Because its safety and effectiveness are not well-described in research, exercise caution when using apple cider vinegar for dogs. If you have any doubts, always ask your vet before using this treatment. To apply apple cider vinegar to dry, itchy skin, it’s best to mix apple cider vinegar with water to dilute it. You’ll want the mixture to be half-and-half. Once ready, you can spray the mixture on the affected areas. For itchy paws, soak the paws in the mixture for up to five minutes. This method is not suitable for dogs with raw skin or open wounds.
Oatmeal Bath or Paste
While an oatmeal bath might sound like a strange idea, oatmeal actually offers a range of benefits for the skin. When talking about oatmeal baths, we’re not referring to using regular oats – what you need is colloidal oatmeal! Colloidal oatmeal is a fine powder that dissolves into your bathwater. Colloidal oatmeal improves dry skin, scaling, roughness, and itchiness in humans. This is because oatmeal has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But does it hold up for our furry friends? Colloidal oatmeal is described in several journals, such as in one article describing its use in managing pruritis in dogs.
Laci Schaible (DVM, CVJ) recommends oatmeal baths for dogs with itchy skin and rashes. Pour your oat powder into a tub of warm water and stir it evenly. Then, add your pup to the bath. Once they are comfortable, use a cup to slowly pour the solution over their body. You can also rub some oatmeal solution directly onto any particularly itchy areas. After massaging the oatmeal mixture into your dog’s skin and fur for about 10 minutes, rinse it thoroughly with warm water.
Coconut oil is one of the best substances for itchy, dry skin. It reduces inflammation, provides moisture, and helps to heal wounds with its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Fortunately, this trend holds true when it comes to our furry friends, too! Dogs with fine hair or dogs who are exposed to dry, arid heat can benefit from coconut oil for their skin, says Dr. Pippa Elliott (DVM). As such, coconut oil may be one of the best dog scratching remedies.
The AKC recommends using coconut oil topically to soothe your furry friend’s itchy skin. To use coconut oil topically, you can apply it to your dog’s skin once a week and allow it to set in for a few minutes. After about five minutes, rinse the oil off. If your dog feels greasy or oily, you can follow up with a mild shampoo and rinse. Alternatively, try using a shampoo made with organic coconut oil for similar effects.
Itching Remedies You Can Get on Amazon
Here, we discuss one itching remedy to avoid and why, and one that might just do the trick for your pooch! Always consult with your vet before using medication for your dog.
Vet’s Best Dog Hot Spot Itch Relief Spray
Vet’s Best Dog Hot Spot Itch Relief Spray soothes skin irritation from flea and pollen allergy dermatitis. It’s made with a range of natural ingredients, it’s alcohol-free, and works alongside other veterinary treatments. This product is available in 8oz and 16oz sizes for your convenience. However, there is one major problem with the product – its tea tree content! This ingredient is toxic to dogs, and the manufacturer does not state how much tea tree is in each bottle.
Most pet parents love the effectiveness of this itch relief spray. For many, this product helps to soothe red, itchy skin and provides instant itch relief for their dogs. Other happy customers report that the product is easy to use, is good value for money, and has a tolerable scent. For these reviewers, the product was a quick and easy solution to their dog’s itching.
Unfortunately, this product is not a cure-all. In fact, it’s made with tea tree oil, which several customers bring up in their reviews. Tea tree oil applied directly to the skin can have serious consequences for pets, causing ataxia, salivation, coma, and seizures. Several customers report their dogs having seizures or being distressed after the spray is used. Exercise caution when using this product.
Remedy + Recovery 0.5% Hydrocortisone Lotion for Dogs
Remedy+ Recovery Lotion soothes flea bites, dermatitis, moist eczema, and itching in dogs. This lotion contains water, mineral oil, cetyl alcohol, aloe, leaf juice, and propylene glycol. These ingredients help to increase moisture retention in the skin and fur. While alcohol may sound like a bad choice of ingredient, the alcohols in this product are fatty alcohols – these are non-irritating and can be exceptionally beneficial for the skin! As such, this is one of the best dog scratching remedies currently on the market.
Satisfied customers report that this product is of great value for money, provides comfort to their pets, and has a pleasant scent. It’s also non-greasy. Most owners agree that this lotion is highly effective, offering relief for a range of conditions that cause itching in dogs.
The main drawbacks to this lotion are its scent, its thickness, and its usefulness. Not all pet parents find that their dogs improve whilst using this cream. Also, the thickness of the lotion can make it difficult to apply. Lastly, its scent is often attractive to dogs, causing them to lick it off before it can become effective.
Over-The-Counter Medication for Itchy Dogs
It is always best to talk to your vet before giving any OTC medicines to your dog. This is for several reasons. First and foremost, human and dog doses are different, so you will need to know the correct dose for your dog. Second, if your dog is already taking medication, drug interactions can be dangerous. Lastly, many OTC drugs are not safe for dogs. Do not assume that a drug is safe for your dog without consulting with your vet!
Benadryl is a common treatment for dogs with mild-to-moderate allergies. This drug is effective for managing seasonal, food, and environmental allergies in dogs. It is thus common to use Benadryl to manage the symptoms of allergies, including hives, swelling, redness, sneezing, and coughing. Before reaching for Benadryl, however, consult with your vet about your pet’s symptoms. You must consult with your vet if your dog has glaucoma, cardiovascular disease, a seizure disorder, hypertension, or if they are pregnant.
Like Benadryl, Zyrtec® is an antihistamine that can treat atopic dermatitis, hives, and insect bite reactions in dogs. Luckily, the risk of a Zyrtec® overdose in dogs is low, and it stops working within 24 hours. It typically does not cause serious side effects. However, high doses are known to cause sleepiness in small dogs. Some dogs will also vomit and salivate. Always consult with your vet if your dog has a seizure disorder, constipation, glaucoma, is pregnant, or is a working dog.
Loratadine is another antihistamine that can help to manage allergic conditions as well as acute inflammatory responses. As such, it’s sometimes given for bee stings, managing itchy skin, and reducing vaccination reactions. Unlike the other antihistamines, Claritin does not cross the blood-brain barrier and is less likely to cause drowsiness. It is also longer-lasting. However, much like the other antihistamines, Loratadine does come with its risks. It should be used with caution for dogs with dry eye, and may cause hyperactivity, depression, and racing heart rate.
Prescription Medicine for Itching Dog
To treat itchiness, steroids are the most common drugs given to dogs. While steroids are very effective, they also come with numerous side effects. To the relief of pet parents and vets alike, there are now other products that can reduce itchiness with fewer side effects. These drugs include Apoquel and Cytopoint. In some cases, these two drugs are used in tandem to control itching. To date, these drugs are two of the best dog scratching remedies available.
Apoquel is a prescription medication for allergic itch in dogs. It’s effective for managing flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and atopic dermatitis. This drug is fast-acting and can offer some relief within 4 hours. For pet parents who want to avoid steroids, this drug does just the trick. It is made without steroids and thus works differently from them. The dose is typically 9.18 to 0.27mg per pound of body weight. It’s given twice daily for up to 14 days, and once daily thereafter for maintenance. It can be taken with or without food and can be discontinued without tapering. Apoquel is unsafe for dogs less than 12 months of age or with serious infections. It may also cause pre-existing cancers to worsen. Your vet will consider these factors before prescribing your dog with Apoquel.
Remedies Fro Scratching Dog: FAQ
Have any more questions about the best dog scratching remedies? Feel free to check out our FAQ for more details. If in doubt about your dog’s health, always talk to your vet for advice.
Talk to your vet about how often to give your dog OTC antihistamines. What works for one dog may not be effective for another! The ideal dosage will also depend on your dog’s weight, and any other medicines they are currently taking.
Your vet can test your dog for specific allergies. For example, a blood test can be done to identify environmental allergies in a dog. Similarly, intradermal testing can confirm a flea bite allergy. For a food allergy, the only way to diagnose your dog is through a strict dietary trial.
Baking soda may be effective for itchy dogs. However, there are no clinical studies to back up this idea. Also, large amounts of baking soda can be toxic to dogs. To be on the safe side, always rinse well after applying a baking soda and water mixture to your dog’s skin.
Because of the risks of side effects, it’s best to rinse coconut oil off of your dog. While small amounts are safe for dogs, ingesting it too often can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, and other illnesses.
Topical moisturizers are effective for keeping your dog’s skin moist. There are many effective products on the market made just for dogs. As well as this, regular brushing will also help to keep the skin moist. Brushing helps by stimulating the skin’s oil-producing glands. You may also supplement your dog’s diet with fish oil to boost their skin condition.
Itchiness caused by allergies and insect bites can be managed at home with your vet’s supervision. Your dog may benefit from a soothing oatmeal bath, or if baths aren’t their thing, an apple cider vinegar spray may be best. If your dog has not already been to the vet for their persistent itching, be sure to check in with the vet as soon as possible for a diagnosis and treatment plan.