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Itch Relief for Dogs: Your Complete Guide

Dog itching ear

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We all know what it’s like to have itchy skin—and it’s not fun. So when our dogs are itching and scratching like crazy, we feel their pain. We’d do anything to get to the root of the problem and provide relief for our canine companions.

From infections to allergies, there are a number of potential problems that can cause itching in dogs (1). Let’s take a closer look at other reasons your dog may be itchy, how skin issues are diagnosed, and natural ways to help provide itch relief for dogs.

Dog Itchy Skin Causes

Itchy dog

“Just like people, there are an immense amount of issues that can cause itchy skin in dogs,” says Dr. Chris Menges, a small animal veterinarian in Texas. “Dogs’ skin and fur are the protective layer that helps protect them from the environment, and all sorts of creepy crawlies try to get on (and possibly onto you!).” 

The three most common categories that cause itchy skin in dogs are infections, allergies, and parasites, Menges says.

If you notice that your dog is scratching more than usual, one of these issues could be to blame: 

  • Dry skin, which can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, mild dehydration, or low humidity in the environment 
  • Parasite hypersensitivity, which can be brought on most commonly by fleas or mites
  • Allergy (from either food or the environment, like pollen)
  • Hot spots
  • Hormonal issues
  • Yeast infection (e.g., Malassezia dermatitis)
  • Bacterial infection (e.g., staphylococcal pyoderma)
  • Genetic disorder (depending on the breed, some dogs are more susceptible)

If your dog is scratching a specific spot on their body, it may mean the following:  

  • Itchy ears: Infections are a very common cause of itchy ears, and allergies can also sometimes cause your dog’s ears to itch. There could also be dirt and other materials that cause irritation and discomfort inside your dog’s ears.
  • Itchy paws: Paws are most commonly affected when a dog suffers from allergies to food, grass, or pollen. A dog may also have dirty paws or extra moisture on their paw pads, causing them to become itchy in that spot.
  • Itchy butt: A dog’s bottom can become itchy for many different reasons, like fleas, ringworm, fecal contamination, allergies, or even impacted anal sacs

Your veterinarian can help identify what’s causing your dog’s itchy skin. “A trained veterinarian’s eye can quickly find the solution or recommend the testing needed to solve this issue,” Menges says. Keep a record of the spots where your dog is scratching, how long they’ve been scratching for, and any other factors that may be involved, so when you talk to your vet, you can relay your observations. 

Dog Itchy Skin Symptoms

Besides the obvious—seeing your dog scratch himself—here are some other signs to watch for that may indicate a bigger problem than just a short-term, no-big-deal, temporary itch:

  • Relentless scratching in specific spots
  • Constant biting, chewing (of paws), and licking
  • Bleeding and redness
  • A brownish red saliva stain on the fur
  • A skin infection or irritation 
  • Scaling of the skin
  • Odor
  • Oozing pustules
  • Hair loss 
  • Restlessness 

Menges warns that while there may be a variety of causes for skin itchiness in dogs, the signs of itchy skin can all be the same. “These typically involve the dog repeatedly and consistently scratching at a specific place in the body,” Menges says. 

Any such repetitive pattern from the scratching fits can lead to hair loss, reddened or darkened skin, foul odor, or bleeding at the site of the itching, Menges adds. If you notice these signs, contact your veterinarian to ensure the problem doesn’t get worse, he recommends. 

Natural Itch Relief for Dogs: 5 Skin Soothers to Try

While there is not always a quick, easy fix to health-related issues in dogs, these natural ingredients may help soothe your dog’s itchy skin or help prevent skin issues from occurring. Keep in mind that soothing the itch alone does not address the underlying cause of the itch:

Honey

manuka honey

For centuries, honey has been prized for its potential health benefits and medicinal uses, ranging from healing wounds and burns to helping treat itchy skin issues like dandruff, psoriasis, and eczema (2). Known for its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, honey is a common ingredient in pet skin and coat care products, including ointments, spray gels, and shampoos. 

One honey in particular, manuka honey, offers ultra-potent antibacterial activity. This carefully refined honey kills bacteria, maintains moisture, and helps the body shed dead tissue while protecting the skin’s natural microbiome (3, 4).

Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal has long been used by humans to soothe dry, itchy or otherwise irritated skin, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (5). A high-quality oatmeal shampoo for dogs can help provide itch relief, moisturize skin, and soften your pup’s coat. Look for gentle, hypoallergenic formulas that are pH balanced and free of sulfates, colorants, and other harsh chemicals. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar on table

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a hugely popular natural ingredient that has worked its way into everything from detox tonics to DIY facial toners, scalp rinses, and bath soaks. Naturally, humans have been investigating how apple cider vinegar can benefit their canine companions as well. Dogs with itchy skin and dandruff may benefit from an apple cider vinegar bath or rinse to help calm irritation and inflammation. Apple cider vinegar can help restore the skin’s pH balance and it has multiple antimicrobial properties (6). However, it must be properly diluted and veterinarians recommend doing a spot test first to see how your dog reacts to it. If you don’t want to go the DIY route, you can always purchase an ACV rinse for dogs.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which offer numerous potential health benefits, such as reducing inflammation throughout the body and supporting skin and coat health (7). Omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for dogs with skin allergies or food sensitivities that can lead to itchy skin. A high-quality fish oil supplement may help keep your pet’s allergies at bay and avoid skin issues from developing in the first place. Look for a reputable product that is third-party tested for safety, strength, purity, and quality, and make sure to read the label carefully and follow proper dosing instructions. 

Turmeric

Ingredients for turmeric paste for dogs

Another natural ingredient that may help your dog heal from the inside out is turmeric. It may help reduce inflammation and swelling and provide pain relief, among other benefits, thanks to its main active ingredient, curcumin (8). It can be administered topically to help ease itching, mixed into food, or taken as a supplement. When applied topically as a paste, turmeric can be used as a healing tool for chronic skin problems in dogs, such as lick granulomas. However, turmeric may not be the right fit for all pets, so check with your veterinarian if your pet has any pre-existing health conditions or is currently taking any medications.

Other Tips and Advice for Itch Relief in Dogs

While understanding the signs of skin problems in dogs and identifying what the problem may be are paramount to helping your canine companion, these other steps should also be a part of the process:

Prevention

“Preventing itchy skin starts with every day help,” says Menges. Keeping a regular grooming schedule and using high-quality products that are easy on the skin can go a long way. Make sure you’re not bathing your dog too often either.  

Eating Well

“Good nutrition from AAFCO-approved foods … have appropriate nutrition to promote and create a healthy skin barrier to prevent infections,” Menges says. He also suggests giving your dog omega-3 fatty acids (like fish oil mentioned above) to help improve and decrease itchy signs due to allergies. 

Flea Prevention

Keeping your dog on monthly flea control will help stop those biting and itchy fleas dead in their tracks.

Understanding Allergies

If you suspect allergies are to blame, narrowing down the culprit with your veterinarian can help you find the most effective solution.

Helpful Products for Itchy Skin in Dogs

All featured products were chosen at the discretion of the Great Pet Care editorial team and not directly recommended or endorsed by the author of this article. Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Some dogs have seasonal itchiness. For example, when seasons change and leaves fall from the trees, a dog’s skin may react to mold, pollen, and debris. Just like people, dogs may sneeze and itch during the springtime when buds appear on the trees. Fortunately, we’ve taken the guesswork out of which products work best. If you can identify the source of your dog’s itchiness, you can target the issue with the host of products we’ve curated below.

Best Dog Supplement for Itchy Skin

Our pick: The One by Front of the Pack

What if you could soothe your dog’s itchy skin and support her overall health and wellness at the same time? Front of the Pack’s The One dog supplement powder may be just the answer. This convenient blend of 12 clinically-proven ingredients provides eight essential benefits in one. Skin and coat health support comes from ingredients like omega-3-rich krill, curcumin, postbiotic, and MSM. Aside from soothing itchy skin, The One may also help support healthy digestion and immune health, relieve hip and joint stiffness, and alleviate stress and anxiety, among other perks. Simply sprinkle the broth-flavored powder onto your dog’s food once a day or mix it in with her favorite healthy snack.

Highlights

  • Non-GMO, no artificial flavors or colors, hypoallergenic, and pesticide-free
  • Vet recommended
  • Made in and ships from USA facilities
  • 60 scoops per pouch

Things to Consider

  • Suitable for dogs over 1 years old
  • If you have a larger dog, you will run through your supply faster. Suggested serving is 1 scoop for dogs weighing less than 25 pounds, 2 scoops for dogs 25-50 pounds, and 3 scoops for dogs 50 pounds or more
  • You won’t see results right away, but the company says positive improvements should begin to appear within 4-6 weeks

Sample buyer review: “My dog has her life back. I have tried everything – allergy shots, itching chews, you name it. I found the ‘Miracle Supplement.’”

Best Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs

Our pick: Great Pet Great Coat Dog Shampoo

The last thing your itchy pup needs is additives, dyes, and preservatives in her dog shampoo. These ingredients may actually make the pruritus (itching) worse. Great Coat contains nothing to irritate your dog’s skin. Best of all, it’s soap-free and detergent-free, so it won’t interfere with the natural oils in her skin. This pH-balanced hypoallergenic formula is designed to control uncomfortable itchiness, scaling, and sensitive skin. 

Highlights

  • Contains hydrolyzed oat protein to moisturize and soothe dry, flaky, sensitive skin
  • Aloe vera provides quick relief to dry skin
  • Hypoallergenic formula is designed for dogs with sensitive, itchy skin
  • Light and airy pina colada scent that isn’t overpowering
  • Made in the United States

Things to Consider

  • Great Coat should remain on your dog’s skin for five to ten minutes before rinsing for the best effect
  • No gallon size for multiple dog households available 
  • Great Pet recommends shampooing your dog twice to receive maximum benefit 

Sample buyer review: “Xero loves bath time, and he definitely loved this new shampoo! Great lather, smells wonderful, and doesn’t dry out his skin! Definitely plan on buying again!”

Best Dog Vitamins for Skin & Coat

Our pick: Great Pet Daily Great Multivitamins for Dogs

Vitamins are a daily ritual for millions of dogs, but not all formulas are created equal. Dogs who deal with chronic itching, health issues, or ongoing stress may benefit from a high-quality all-in-one multivitamin. Daily Great is easy to dispense thanks to its chewable format. Great Pet realizes pet parents don’t have the time or desire to hide pills or give multiple vitamins a day. The four-in-one formula ensures your dog gets exactly what she needs—including 240 mg of omega-3 to support healthy skin and coat. No more having to buy a separate omega-3, probiotic, or joint supplement.

Highlights

  • Yummy chicken-flavored chewable that packs a mere 37.8 kcals per two chews
  • May decrease your dog’s itchiness and help keep her gut in balance
  • Contains 5 million CFUs (colony-forming units) for probiotic supplementation 
  • Made in America
  • Promotes strong hips, joints, skin, and coat

Things to Consider

  • Must be given twice a day
  • Larger dogs over 76 pounds require six chews per serving
  • They smell so good dogs may mistake them for treats, so keep the jar away from prying paws

Sample buyer review: “My dog really likes these. She’s a picky eater and I was not sure if she would like these! I have been pleasantly surprised! They have really helped out with her digestive issues and have also really helped with a shiny healthy coat and strong nails. Since my dog has digestive issues, her diet has to be somewhere restricted and I feel comfortable knowing that she’s getting the proper nutrients from this multivitamin.”

Best Soothing Salve for Dogs with CBD

Our pick: The Anxious Pet Soothe Move

This CBD soothing balm from The Anxious Pet can help moisturize, heal, and protect your dog’s paw pads, elbow, and snout. Made with natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like fractionated coconut oil, beeswax, and broad-spectrum CBD, it can help provide relief for irritated skin, hot spots, and minor wounds and burns. Simply massage into skin and repeat as desired!

Highlights

  • 100% all-natural ingredients
  • Contains 500 mg broad-spectrum CBD
  • Veterinarian formulated, laboratory tested
  • Unscented and safe for your pet to lick
  • Fast, free shipping
  • Save 15 percent when you sign up for auto-refill
  • Money back guarantee within 60 days of purchase

Things to Consider

  • Store at room temperature
  • Keep out of reach of children
  • For use on dogs and cats only

Best Anti-Itch Spray for Dogs

Our pick: Vetnique Labs Dermabliss Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch & Allergy Spray

Sometimes a dog simply needs targeted itch relief. Dermabliss anti-itch and allergy relief medicated spray is veterinarian formulated and recommended. It is available without a prescription and can be applied directly to your pup’s itchy areas. This fragrance-free formula is made with veterinary strength 1 percent hydrocortisone and 0.5 percent pramoxine. Combined with soothing oatmeal and other key ingredients, your dog’s skin feels soft, moisturized, and calm after a few sprays. 

Highlights

  • Can be used on the feet, face, ears, legs, belly, and wherever your dog has itchiness
  • Safe for daily use
  • Great for hot spots, allergy treatment, skin irritation from bug bites, and itch relief
  • Made in the United States
  • Numbs the area while reducing redness and itching
  • Easy to travel with and keep in your dog’s first aid kit

Things to Consider

  • Not a permanent solution to itching, but a great fix temporarily
  • Do not use more than four times per day or as directed by your veterinarian
  • For use on dry skin. Massage onto affected area and wash your hands afterward.

Sample buyer review: “Worked really well for our Bulldog with hotspots. Instantly stopped him from the constant itching and paired with the shampoo he had results within a few weeks with hair growing back.”

Best Dog Conditioner for Itchy Skin

Our pick: ZYMOX Leave-On Conditioner with Vitamin D3 by Pet King Brands

After your dog’s bath with Great Clean, apply Zymox’s leave-on conditioner. Their patented LP3 enzymatic gets right to work for irritated, itchy skin due to allergies and infections. It contains three enzymes made of natural ingredients so it is as effective as it is gentle. Can safely be used on all ages and sizes of dogs and cats. It also provides a protective barrier against minor skin inflammation and irritations. 

Highlights

  • Apply to wet hair, massage in, and allow your dog to air dry or blow dry
  • Can also be massaged in dry for optimal protection
  • Made in America 
  • Powerful enzymes target bacteria, fungi, and yeast while leaving healthy skin cells alone
  • Some pet parents use it as a spot-on itch relief with success

Things to Consider

  • Light, pleasant fragrance
  • Available in a one-gallon bottle if more product is desired

Sample buyer review: “My Henri, a 12-year-old rescue, has every allergy known to the animal kingdom. Bless him, he has suffered for years. After many, many different types of failing treatments we had just about given up. Then I found Zymox. It has truly been a miracle. I bathe him once a week and only lightly rinse the conditioner. If I notice him doing any scratching I apply a little bit to the area, and the itch is relieved.”

Best Roll-On Healing Balm for Dogs

Our pick: Natural Dog Company Skin Soother Healing Balm

This is one of those must-have items for every dog parent’s travel bag and first aid kit. The Natural Dog’s Skin Soother roll-on stick is packed with healing herbs to prevent and treat skin irritations. A natural combination of almond oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E, chamomile, and lavender get right to work on bothersome skin. Simply distract your pup, rub the stick onto the affected area, and praise with lots of pats and a treat. 

Highlights

  • May help speed up wound healing and seasonal allergies
  • Made with non-toxic organic ingredients that are safe if licked 
  • Handcrafted in the United States
  • Veterinarian-approved
  • Many reviews praise this product’s healing properties and successes 

Things to Consider

  • Best if used one to three times daily on affected areas 
  • Two-ounce size may be used up quickly 

Sample buyer review: “Whenever I see her itching an area I part her hair and put a little on that spot and seems to give her some relief! I love that it’s all-natural I don’t use anything else for her she’s so sensitive to everything!”