It’s not easy to watch your sweet little canine friend itch all day and night long. It’s no surprise that constant itching can make them feel miserable. As their owner, it’s your responsibility to put them at ease and soothe the itch. But first, let’s take a look at what could be causing your dog’s intense scratching.
What causes dog scratching?
Robert Silver, DVM, founder of Boulder's Natural Animal: A Holistic Wellness Center, explains: “Dogs itch for many different reasons, and sometimes, for no reason, and it’s not uncommon for the scratching to seem worse at night when the house is quiet.”
“Every dog’s gotta scratch some time, and that’s completely normal. But when a dog is incessantly licking, scratching, biting and chewing to the point of wounding herself, then scratching becomes a symptom of an underlying pathology.”
If your pup is scratching every once in a while, there’s no need to worry. A little itch here and there is normal, just like it is for us. However, if your dog begins to scratch more than normal, itches excessively or appears uncomfortable, it could be a sign of something more than just a random itch.
The first to be suspicious of if your dog has an increased bout of scratching is fleas. If your pooch has fleas, you’ll probably be able to see little specks of black in their fur or on a flea comb. This is actually flea poop, so you'll need to get your pup treated for fleas ASAP.
But there are many other creepy crawlies which could cause dog scratching, including lice, parasites, ticks, and mites. It could even just be a simple insect bite from being outside in the wilderness.
Another common cause is allergies, which causes similar symptoms to that of allergies in humans - red eyes, a dripping nose and uncontrollable itchiness. The scratching could also be down to a simple case of dry skin, caused by the environment or your dog’s diet.
Dog scratching home remedies
If your dog has started scratching a little more than usual, there are a few home remedies to try out before (or until you can get to) the vet. You’ll be pleased to hear that you might already have some of these in your kitchen cupboard, so they make a great emergency treatment if your pup is feeling uncomfortable.
It’s important to note, however, that if the itching is accompanied by any other symptoms (sickness, fatigue, diarrhoea etc) you should skip the dog scratching home remedies and get straight to the vet for treatment.
Change their diet
Your dog’s excessive scratching could simply be down to a food allergy. And in that case, all you’ll need to do is switch up your dog’s diet. The canned and dry dog food you can pick up in the supermarket is sometimes to blame as it normally contains lots of chemicals, proteins and wheat.
Because cooked meat is a common culprit for dogs with allergens, they often respond well to a simple fish and sweet potato diet. Fish contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to ease inflammation, and removing the allergens in commercial dog food might get rid of the allergy altogether.
Use olive oil
Everyone has olive oil in their house, right? Well, the good news is, that it doubles up as an incredible dog scratching home remedy, too! By adding 1 tablespoon of the good stuff, 2-3 times a week to your dog’s food, you’ll be loading them with antioxidants and vitamin E, which can help ease itching and condition their skin.
For instant relief, you can put some olive oil directly on the itchy area of your pup's skin. We’d recommend mixing 10 drops of olive oil into a cup of water and applying it to your the affected area with your hands or a soft brush. Olive oil is amazing for moisturising dry skin and soothing itches. The best part? It can be used as often as needed!
If your dog is really struggling with itchy skin and needs an immediate remedy, an oatmeal bath is one of the best dog scratching home remedies. Blend a cup of plain oatmeal into a fine powder. Next, pour and stir it into a warm bath or large bucket for your dog.
After a 15 minute soak, the itching skin should have cooled down and feel soothed. Afterwards, gently towel-dry your pooch - he will feel a lot happier!
Unsweetened plain or Greek yoghurt is loaded with good bacteria. This can help to ward off rashes, allergies, and yeast infections in dogs. Even if your dog isn’t suffering from itching, it’s a great preventative measure which will only boost their health.
Feed your dog just one teaspoon of yoghurt a week - or two if they’re a particularly large breed. Always make sure the yoghurt you pick is completely free of sugar and any other additives.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has had rave reviews for human hair and skin, but it’s beneficial for dogs, too! Like all kinds of vinegar, ACV has strong antimicrobial and antiseptic properties which give it a kick-ass ability to kill some types of bacteria and microbes.
The easiest way to apply the vinegar is to fill a spray bottle with half water and half ACV. This will dilute it slightly, as it’s very acidic. Spray on the itchy area every day. If your dog has any open or wounded skin, avoid applying this remedy altogether until the wound has healed, as it can cause intense stinging.
You’ve probably seen coconut oil based products fill the shelves of beauty stores and supermarkets, famed for their skin and health-boosting properties. But coconut oil is equally as beneficial when it comes to dog health - both inner and outer! So, let’s chat about the benefits of coconut oil and how to use coconut oil for itchy dog skin.
Dog has itching skin? Coconut oil is your solution
Coconut oil isn’t just another fad - the benefits it holds for both animals and humans are pretty much indisputable. If your dog is scratching like mad and keeping you up all night with their excessive itching, it may just be the cure you’ve been waiting for.
Coconut oil is extracted from mature coconuts into an edible oil. With its incredible benefits, there’s no surprise its become extremely popular in the beauty industry and on the health food market. More recently, pet owners have started to reap the benefits of coconut oil, too.
Why is coconut oil so good for itchy dog skin?
The reason that coconut oil is so good for itchy dog skin and other dog health problems is all down to the Medium Chain Fatty Acids which are present in the oil.
According to Dr Jean Dodd’s pet health resource blog, “Whereas most saturated fats are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), coconut oil is comprised mainly of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), or medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Our bodies metabolize (break down) and recognize medium chain fatty acids differently than long chain fatty acids, producing a very different effect.”
It’s these MCFA’s that give coconut oil such a powerful health punch and bring on most of the benefits, which we’ll discuss next.
Benefits of coconut oil for dogs
Skin and coat benefits
- Relieves itches and soothes skin
- Helps clear up eczema
- Naturally repels fleas
- Reduces allergies
- Makes coat shiny and glossy
- Treats and prevent fungal and yeast infections
- Speeds up healing and disinfects cuts, sores and wounds
- Eases IBS and colitis
- Helps reduce coughing
- Aids digestion and nutrient absorption
- Weight loss aid
- Insulin balancing and prevents diabetes
- Promotes normal function of the thyroid
- Increases energy
Coconut oil for itchy dog skin methods
One of our all-time coconut oil for itchy dog skin methods is a good ol’ coconut mask and bath! This method ensures your dog will really benefit from the soothing effects of coconut oil, all over their body.
Not only will a coconut oil mask help to soothe the itch, but it will also condition your dog’s skin and coat, prevent fleas and tackle infections. In fact, it’s so beneficial, that we’d recommend making it a part of your dog’s grooming routine, whether or not they’re itching!
First, your dog needs to be damp all over. Then, apply a thick layer of coconut oil all over, or just on the problem areas if you’d prefer. Focus on your pup’s neck, face, armpits, elbows and tummy, as well as any other areas he scratches. Let it soak in for around 5-10 minutes, rewarding them with a treat.
Then, get a cloth and use warm water to rinse off the coconut oil thoroughly. If you find that the oil is sticking, you can use a little bit of doggy shampoo to loosen it - soap-free is always best. Then, towel dry your dog and give them a gentle brush. Their itching skin should feel much better and will improve significantly, if not disappear, after a few masks.
We all know that coconut oil smells delicious, and your pup does too - hence why he might try to eat it when the mask is on. Don’t worry too much about that - it’s completely safe for dogs to consume coconut oil. In fact, it’s super healthy.
Topically applied coconut oil
If you wake up in the middle of the night to find your dog itching and scratching intensely, you won’t have the time or energy to do a full coconut oil mask. Instead, you can just apply a small amount of coconut oil to the affected area, using your fingers to massage it in gently.
Start with a small amount and add more if it’s needed - coconut oil can get quite greasy if over applied. This should be enough to soothe your pooch until the morning and send him soundly to sleep.
Feeding dogs coconut oil
Did you know that your pup can eat coconut oil? It’s one of the best ways for your dog to gain all of the impressive benefits listed above and can help prevent and soothe itching skin.
If you decide to feed your dog coconut oil, make sure to start with small amounts and build up. Diet changes can cause upset in a dog’s stomach, so they’ll need some time to adjust. A good starting point is a quarter of a teaspoon every day, though bigger breeds can start with up to one tablespoon.
After you’ve given your dog’s body some time to adjust, you can increase the dose. You should aim to give your pooch around one teaspoon of coconut oil per ten pounds of weight, every day. Make sure you don’t exceed this, as coconut oil is rather high in fat.
The easiest method is to simply drizzle the oil all over your pup’s food. However, if you enjoy cooking, you can also incorporate coconut oil into homemade dog treats.