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The essentials

  • A variety of factors can cause itchy skin in dogs — Your dog’s itchiness may result from flea allergies, seasonal allergies, or contact dermatitis from other environmental irritants.
  • Prompt treatment is key — Canine skin allergy symptoms may vary from mild to severe. Early veterinary intervention is essential to treat more serious conditions and prevent hot spots or infections.
  • You can try various home remedies — Your veterinarian may recommend regulating indoor temperatures and humidity, administering fish oil supplements, or using a medicated shampoo.

If your pup has skin allergies, they might have dry, itchy skin or other uncomfortable symptoms. As a pet owner, it’s understandable that you want to do everything you can to soothe them. That’s why we’ve put together this list of home remedies designed to help treat your dog’s allergy symptoms. Remember, these aren’t replacements for medical treatment provided by your vet. But you can use this information to talk with your vet about the best ways to soothe the itch and help your dog feel better fast.

11 remedies to help soothe your dog’s skin allergy symptoms

Your dog’s skin allergy symptoms may vary from mild to severe. Early treatment is essential to prevent your dog from creating hot spots from scratching itchy skin. Hot spots start as patches of dry, itchy skin that develop into painful open sores, which become infected and require a trip to the vet.

Below are 11 ways to help soothe canine itchiness and discomfort from home.

1. Use fish oil supplements to add omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet

Fish oil has many benefits — including keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy. It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties. If your pup has skin allergies, try our favorite fish oil supplement: Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet Soft Gels. If your dog has dandruff, adding an omega-3 fatty acid to their diet is one of the best ways to treat it. Note that it may take 4-6 weeks of use to see results.

👉 Always consult your vet before giving your dog any new supplements or medicines.  

2. Ask your vet about allergy medication

Antihistamines formulated for humans, such as Benadryl and Zyrtec, are usually safe for dogs in the appropriate dosages and can be helpful for mild allergies.  However, you should always ask your vet before giving your dog any medications or supplements. In severe cases, you might opt for a prescription allergy medication made for dogs, such as Apoquel or Cytopoint, both of which are highly safe and effective.

3. Use dog shampoos with oatmeal

Choose a pet shampoo that contains oatmeal to soothe itchy skin. We’ve rounded up some of the best shampoos for dry, itchy skin to help you find the right product for your dog’s allergies and skin type.

To prevent your dog from licking any ingredients, always follow the instructions on the bottle and rinse them well after shampooing. Washing all the residue off can also relieve itchiness.

Alternatively, you can create colloidal oatmeal or finely ground oats and mix them into skin care products like lotions and creams or even add them to bathwater.

👉 Giving your dog weekly baths can actually cause dry skin and itchiness, so try to bathe your dog at least 2 weeks apart, or as directed by your vet.

4. Try a medicated shampoo

Dr. Cahn recommends DOUXO, a trusted over-the-counter brand of medicated shampoo and other skin care products. Free from sulfates, parabens, and soaps, these formulas cleanse your pup’s skin without using anything harsh or harmful and can even treat mild skin infections. Ophytrium, the plant-derived active ingredient, is a natural antifungal and antibacterial agent.

5. Outfit your dog with a shirt or e-collar

If your dog feels excessively itchy, you may have to put them in an e-collar or outfit to prevent them from breaking their skin from scratching. However, this should only be temporary until you get to the root of the issue.

“If itching is severe or your dog has other symptoms such as skin lesions, scabs, pustules (pimples), hair loss, redness, or ear infection, see your vet,” Dr.  Cahn cautions. “They can help determine the underlying issue, treat any skin infections, and provide treatments to help manage the itch that is extremely fast, safe, and effective.”

6. Towel dry your your pup

Damp fur can lead to bacteria growth — especially if your dog has a lot of skin folds like a pug. Dry off your dog after bathing, swimming, or running in the rain. While you can safely use a hair dryer (low setting only) on your dog, towel-drying is best to reduce the risk of excessively drying out their fur or skin.

7. Don’t forget to wipe your dog’s paws after outdoor time

Environmental allergies may cause inflamed, itchy, pink or red rashes or dermatitis between your dog’s toes — especially during the spring and summer when dew and sweat combine with environmental irritants like ragweed, grasses, foxtails, or dust mites. Exposure to ice and snow in the colder months can also leave your pup’s paws dry, cracked, and itchy. Wiping down your pup’s paws when they come inside can help remove some common allergens.

8. Remove indoor allergens

If your pup suffers from allergies, check for culprits within the home. You may need to eliminate common irritants like dust, cigarette smoke, certain cleaning products, and chemical fragrances like those found in laundry detergent and scented candles. An air purifier may help cleanse the air. Washing bedding every week can also help reduce dust mites.

9. Invest in a humidifier and keep an eye on indoor temps

Extreme heat or cold triggers allergy symptoms in some pets, so it’s important to maintain the temperature in your home.

Another thing to consider is humidity levels. Arid air causes dry skin, which intensifies the itchiness. So invest in a humidifier if you need one. Plus, this can also benefit the humans in your home. Conversely, too much moisture in the air encourages mold growth, intensifying allergy symptoms. If you live in a hot, humid area, keep the air circulating in your house or invest in a dehumidifier.

10. Keep up with flea and tick preventatives

Since dogs can be allergic to flea and tick bites, it’s important to prevent your dog from bug bites before they start. Chat with your vet about using monthly flea and tick preventatives, which typically come in a topical or an oral form.

11. Evaluate your dog’s diet

Make sure you’re feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet that’s formulated for their lifestage. Since food allergies may cause itchy skin, your vet may suggest an elimination trial diet with a novel or hydrolyzed protein to determine any potential allergens.

Home remedies to avoid 

If your dog struggles with itchy and inflamed skin, turning to Google for help is normal. However, many home remedies recommended for pet owners are not effective at managing allergy symptoms in dogs. Some of them can actually be harmful. These are the home remedies that we recommend avoiding.

  • Coconut oil. While coconut oil might not hurt dry skin, it can worsen hot spots because of the excessive moisture. It can also cause GI upset if your dog ingests it.
  • Essential oils. Some essential oils can be toxic to dogs, especially in certain quantities. If you have any questions about essential oils, it’s always a good idea to ask your vet before using them on or around your pet.
  • Vitamins or supplements without your vet’s approval. There can be too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to nutrition. Always ask your vet before giving your dog any supplements or medications.
  • Never put anything in your dog’s ears without asking your vet. In addition to hazardous materials such as cotton swabs, seemingly innocuous substances such as hydrogen peroxide and expired ear medications can damage your pet’s hearing. Ask your vet before putting anything in your dog’s ears.

What causes itchy skin in dogs?

Itchiness in dogs — medically known as pruritus — may be caused by allergies, parasites, skin infections, systemic disease, or contact dermatitis from soaps and perfumes, among other environmental irritants. Here are some of the most common causes of itchy skin in canines:

  • Environmental allergies. If your pup is itchy only during certain times of the year — like the spring or fall — environmental or seasonal allergies might be to blame.
  • Environmental irritants. Environmental irritants like dust mites, grass, mold, or chemicals in soaps and perfumes can lead to contact dermatitis, a term for a dry and itchy skin reaction.
  • Food sensitivities. While it may not seem obvious, food allergies or sensitivities are another cause of irritated skin in dogs. If you think your dog’s food might be to blame, talk to your vet to determine if you need to do an elimination diet . A surprisingly common dog food allergy is chicken, but that’s not the only possibility.
  • Flea allergy dermatitis. While flea bites can cause itchiness in any dog, flea allergy dermatitis affects canines that are allergic to the flea saliva. Even a single flea bite can cause extreme reactions, such as hair loss from licking or scratching.
  • Overbathing. Dry skin may result from giving your dog too many baths or bathing them with shampoo that irritates their skin.
  • Breed-specific predispositions. Some breeds are predisposed to itchy medical conditions. For example, dogs with wrinkled skin, such as Shar-Pei, boxers, American bulldogs, Boston terriers, and pugs, are among the most prone to skin infections due to their many skin folds.
  • External parasites. Fleas and mites (Demodex and Scabies) can cause itchy skin, even in dogs who aren’t technically allergic to them. Flea bites look like small red bumps on your dog’s skin, but fleas are more easily indicated by “flea dirt,”  tiny black flecks that look like coffee grounds. Mites can cause hair loss, itchy skin, and secondary skin infections.
  • Skin infections. Bacterial and yeast skin infections may cause itchy, scaly skin. A foul odor is usually indicative of a yeast infection. Any type of infection requires veterinary treatment.
  • Systemic disease. Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease are two conditions that commonly affect the skin. Usually, your dog will present other symptoms more specific to the disorder.
Dog skin allergies

1) Allergic reactions to environmental irritants, food, or other products may appear as a pink/red rash between the toes. 2) Otitis externa, or inflammation of the external ear canal, is common in dogs with eczema or atopic dermatitis. 3) An allergic reaction to fleas, which can be caused by a single flea bite, appears as hair loss that can spread all over the body if left untreated.

When should you call the vet?

While these remedies may help your dog feel better,  they won’t cure your dog’s skin allergies alone. Your vet may prescribe topical therapy , anti-itch medication (Apoquel, Cytopoint , or steroids), or medication to treat a present skin infection. Call your vet or schedule an appointment if you encounter any of the following.

You’ve noticed new symptoms — If you’re seeing new symptoms or your dog is showing signs of skin allergies on other parts of their bodies — such as redness, scabs, sores, hair loss, or signs of an ear infection — it’s a good idea to check in with your vet.

Symptoms are worsening — If you’ve been following the treatment plan you made with your vet and your dog isn’t getting better or is getting noticeably worse, call the vet ASAP. You may need to change the treatment plan.

You want to try something new —If you want to try something new, like some of the suggestions we’ve listed in this guide, make sure to check with your vet first. You can use the opportunity to update your vet on what you’re seeing and ask questions, like whether there could be side effects or how long it will take to see results.

Depending on the severity of your dog’s itchiness, it can take some time to resolve their symptoms. Starting a treatment as soon as you notice symptoms can help shorten the healing process. Be patient and work with your vet to develop a treatment and management plan for skin allergies so your pup can find quick and long-lasting relief.

Frequently asked questions

How can I soothe my dog’s itchy skin?

Depending on the culprits behind your dog’s itchy skin, your vet may recommend specific medications, ointments, balms, or other treatment options. To soothe your pup’s itchiness, consult your vet about home remedies, such as fish or oil supplements.

How can I treat my dog’s skin allergy at home?

You can use shampoos and products to help keep your pup’s skin moisturized. An oatmeal bath or other product to help soothe itchy skin can help mild allergy symptoms. You can also try dietary supplements like fish oil for Omega-3s, antihistamines, and remove allergens from your dog’s environment. Remember to check with your vet before using new products on your dog.

What can I give my dog for itchy skin allergies?

Make sure your dog is getting some type of flea and tick preventative medication to ensure they aren’t reacting to bites from these pests. You can also give your dog an omega-3 supplement or antihistamine under the supervision of their vet.

What natural remedy can I give my dog for allergies?

Fish oil or other supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids may help with allergies in dogs. However, always chat with your vet before adding anything new to your dog’s diet.

What antihistamines are safe for dogs?

Benadryl and Zyrtec are 2 safe options, but according to our vet team, they aren’t as effective as prescriptions for dogs like Apoquel and Cytopoint. Ask your vet what they recommend for treating your dog’s allergies.