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This post was originally published in 2012. It was updated with new information and republished in 2019.
When Sydney and Rodrigo were puppies, they itched a lot after being outside. We were told that this could be due to the growing mushrooms in the yard. We added ground flaxseed to their diet and the itching stopped. Today, I understand that this is because of the Omega 3s in flaxseed. Our dogs now eat a raw food diet and I have found a better way to treat a dog's itchy skin.
Food/Supplements for Dogs with Itchy Skin
1 – Transition to a Species Appropriate Raw Diet
Switching my dogs to a raw food diet made a huge difference in their skin and coat health. Now that I'm feeding a diet of fresh food, I have better control over the ingredients and can create a diet that promotes improved skin and coat health, boosts the immune system, and reduces allergy symptoms.
Prior to feeding raw, Rodrigo's allergies were serious enough that he underwent several rounds of antibiotics. Looking back, I wish I had known that this wasn't the only recourse and that I should have taken steps to support his gut health by adding probiotics to his diet. I try not to beat myself up about the mistakes I made in the past, instead, I focus on what I can do for him today to help him live a healthier life.
2 – Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Dogs
When Rodrigo and Sydney were puppies, I noticed that they were itching all the time, but didn't have fleas. A coworker recommended adding flaxseed to their diet, which worked. What I didn't know at the time, but I know now is that flaxseed is a great source of plant-based Omega 3 fatty acids. Today, I believe that adding a quality source of Omega 3 fatty acids is a must for my dogs because of the following benefits:
- Supports skin and coat health.
- Supports brain development and cognitive health.
- Supports joint health by reducing inflammation.
- Supports heart health.
Omega 3 fatty acids may also protect against autoimmune diseases and cancer. Source: HealthLine.com
Because of these benefits, I alternate the following food and supplements in my dogs' raw diet:
- Raw sardines
- Raw mackerel
- Carp burgers by Scout and Zoe's
- Bonnie & Clyde Fish Oil
- Lifeline Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
- Spirulina / Chlorella
3 – Digestive Enzymes for Dogs
Healthy Gut, Healthy Dog
80% of the immune system lives in the gut and if a dog's gut isn't healthy, then the immune system isn't able to do its job of keeping the dog healthy. This is why after several rounds of antibiotics, Rodrigo's allergy systems kept returning and each new instance was always worse than the last. When a dog is on antibiotics, it's important to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria. Today, I'm maniacal about my dogs' gut health and make a point of alternating the following foods and supplements in their diet:
- Raw goat's milk and kefir
- Fermented vegetables and seeds
- Fermented fish stock
FullbucketDaily Canine Powder
Alternative digestive supplements I recommend include:
4 – Nettles for Dogs
My two senior dogs visit a second veterinarian who practices Chinese Medicine for pain management. During their appointments, Dr. Rennert may notice other things and make recommendations. On a recent appointment, she noticed the pink on Rodrigo's paws, which is signs of licking. Wet weather and cold weather can irritate his paws, resulting in the licking. She recommended adding nettles to his diet.
I was right about to order them when I remembered that the Green Honey Allergy Support that I always have on hand has nettles as the main ingredient (right after honey). I now add 2 teaspoons to his meals daily and the paw licking has decreased significantly.
Nettle Tea Recipe
- Add nettle leaves to water and bring to a boil.
- After water comes to a boil, turn off the stove and allow the pot to sit for about five minutes.
- Strain leaves out of the tea.
- Pour cooled tea into a dish for your dog. You can also join your dog, just add some honey to your mug.
5 – Allergy by WinProPet
2019 Update: I came across the brand WinProPet in 2018. I put Sydney on their Mobility supplement and saw an immediate difference. In 2019, I tried their Allergy supplement with Rodrigo and Zoey and within a week, I saw a decrease in eye goobers and Rodrigo stopped licking his paws.
WinProPet makes supplements from blood proteins, a natural supplement that has been shown to improve the health of animals in the horse racing and farming environments. It's now been introduced to the pet industry and I'm impressed.
Loop in Your Veterinarian
Don't leave your vet in the dark. Our dogs' itchy skin no longer results in welts or bleeding, because we now feed a raw food diet. Not every dog owner is this fortunate, so if your dog's itchy skin is causing misery, please contact your vet for more recommendations.