As a child, you were probably told that scratching an itch would only make it worse. And it’s true …
Scratching irritates mast cells, which produce histamine during inflammatory and allergic reactions. And these histamines are what make you itch! That’s why scratching intensifies the problem … it’s a vicious cycle.
To make matters worse, dogs have ten times as many mast cells in their skin as you do. And they’re spread all over a dog’s body. That means your dog experiences a lot more itching with any kind of allergic response.
It’s too bad that dogs aren’t very amenable to the same kind of advice our mothers gave us.
The good news is that there are many readily available natural topical products that will do the job well. In fact, you may have many of these itch fixes in your home.
6 Remedies For Your Dog’s Itching
There are lots of reasons for your dog to itch. It may be because he has a bug bite, hot spot or infection. Or it could be because of environmental or food allergies.
It’s important to find the underlying cause. But in the meantime, here are some safe and easy ways to stop your dog’s itching.
1. Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is a favorite first aid treatment among herbalists, and for good reason. It has an almost magical effect in healing wounds. And it has a more powerful ability to hinder bacteria than many antibiotics.
Calendula also has an anti-inflammatory effect while it promotes new healthy cell growth. And it helps eliminate fungal infections.
The Romans coined the name calendula to reflect the herb’s blooming schedule as it would flower on the calends, or new moon, of every month. Officinalis refers to its official medicinal value.
Calendula tincture diluted with water is an effective and dependable itch treatment for dogs. It can even help with hot spots. Use one part tincture to 5-10 parts water.
You can purchase calendula tincture from a health food store or an online herbal or homeopathic supply store. After diluting and mixing the tincture you can apply it with a spray bottle or just pour some of the mixture on the area and rub it in.
You can steep dried calendula petals to make your own tincture. Just pour one cup of boiling water onto five tablespoons of calendula petals and steep for 15 minutes. This tincture doesn’t have to be diluted.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda can work wonders! It has a soothing effect due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it acts as an acid neutralizer and creates a more basic pH that truly helps to relieve your dog’s itching.
Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with a little water to make a paste. Place the paste on the areas that are itchy or reddened. Leave the paste on for a few hours. Then wash it off.
You can also make a baking soda spray by mixing two tablespoons of baking soda with eight ounces of water. Put in a spray bottle and use when necessary. Shake before using.
I have found the paste solution very helpful with dogs who have itchy, irritated feet. Put the paste between their toes and on the tops of their feet. Baking soda is safe if and can be vacuumed up easily if it dries and falls on your floor.
3. Aloe Vera
There’s a real difference between aloe vera gel you buy in the store and the live plant. The live plant has important enzymes that last for up to three days in the refrigerator.
These special enzymes aren’t in bottled gel but are incredibly powerful and work rapidly to soothe your dog’s itch.
Each aloe leaf contains a jelly-like substance, which rapidly regenerates damaged tissue. This increases the rate of healing in the cellular matrix and decreases inflammation. It also has antibiotic and coagulating agents in it.
You can find aloe plants at plant nurseries; they need little care to maintain in your home. Place a terra cotta pot with an aloe vera plant on your window ledge and it will always be available to you.
If your dog is itching, split open an aloe leaf. Use the hard cuticle of the leaf to apply the clear jelly that’s inside the leaf to itchy areas.
It can also be used for wounds, fungal infections and insect bites. If you cut a leaf and use part of it, store the rest of it in the refrigerator. Again, after the leaf is cut, the ingredients remain active for up to three days.
4. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel, also known as winter-bloom or spotted alder, is a flowering shrub common in North America. The leaves, bark and twigs of witch hazel are high in tannins. Tannins are a natural astringent because of their ability to tighten, dry and harden tissues.
You can buy witch hazel for just a few dollars at any drugstore. This liquid is actually a steam distillation of the bark, leaves and twigs of the shrub itself.
When applied directly to the skin, witch hazel helps relieve your dog’s itch, reduce swelling and repair broken skin. It also helps fight bacteria. Witch hazel is also 100 percent natural, smells fresh and doesn’t stain furniture or carpets when you apply it to your dog.
Simply soak a cloth or cotton ball with witch hazel and rub it on your dog’s skin.
Witch hazel is great for soothing itchy skin. It’s also great for itchy paws. You can put some in a plastic bowl and dip your dog’s feet in it and then pat dry.
5. Gumweed (Grindelia robusta and Grindelia squarossa)
Grindelia is a great option for your dog’s itch but you won’t find Grindelia in the local drug store or health food store.
Grindelia tincture is made from the leaves and flowers of asteroid composites growing on the Pacific coast and inland in the mountains. The heads of the flowers get covered with a viscid balsamic secretion and thus have been called gumweed or rosin-weed.
After being diluted 1:10 with water, grindelia tincture can be a very effective treatment for itching. You can order this tincture from a homeopathic supply store and dilute it before use.
You can pour the mixture on the itchy area, soak a cotton ball and apply it, or place the mixture in a spray bottle and spray the area. Apply it as frequently as needed to the area and watch the progress.
I personally love Zymox LP3 enzymatic products for dog ear infections and itch relief. Only the mildest plant surfactants are used and the enzymes have anti-inflammatory properties that calm the skin.
The LP3 enzyme system reacts with the infectious pus and debris with enzymatic antimicrobial properties. The bioactive enzymes are safe, effective and non-toxic.
But make sure you buy the Zymox without hydrocortisone.
I’ve found Zymox very effective with chronic ear infections that no conventional medication has seemed to help. And it’s very effective against chronic malassezia (fungal) infection in dogs.
While not every one of these remedies will work perfectly on every dog, there’s a very good chance that most of them will work on most dogs. If one solution isn’t effective, don’t hesitate to move to another one.
You probably have some baking soda at home already, and it’s easy to find the other products so you can stock up.
I would suggest having some of these solutions on hand and ready to go in your first aid kit. Whatever’s itching your dog, the trick is to nip it in the bud.