Does your dog keep itching, biting and chewing at its skin? Chances are that something is irritating your dog’s skin. Itchiness in dogs can be due to many things, however the most common reason for skin irritation is allergies. Allergies can be due to parasite bites, food allergies or environmental allergies. The best way to help your dog is by trying to find out the reason for its skin allergy. This may not be an easy task however, and it can take quite some time until you find the reason for your dog’s itchiness.
Fortunately, even if you cannot get to the bottom of the itching right away, there are some basic home remedies for dog skin allergies that can help alleviate the symptoms. Of course, you should not ignore your dog’s itchy skin as excessive allergy reactions can lead to more chronic skin issues and infection.
Why a dog with allergies risks a skin infection?
Allergies in dogs cause pruritis, which is the medical term for excessive itching, scratching and gnawing at the skin. A dog that keeps scratching its skin will cause severe inflammation, lesions and wounds. In turn, open wounds are more prone to become infected. A simple skin infection can quickly lead to secondary infections such as bacterial or yeast infections. If kept untreated, this infection can lead to a dog with chronic skin infections.
So, always act immediately and try to quiet down your dog’s skin irritation with a bath and some natural home remedies. However, if you see no immediate change and signs of dog skin infection, visit a veterinarian for advice to avoid further skin complications. Your vet will be able to help determine the type of dog skin infection and treat it accordingly.
Causes of Dog Skin Infections
As already mentioned, your dog’s skin can become severely infected from open wounds and injury. So, there can be other causes of dog skin infection other than allergies.
Animal bites that don’t break the skin are not a risk for infection. However, if a dog bite punctures the skin, there is a higher risk of infection. If another dog bites your dog, it is important to have it checked and treated by a vet. This is even more important if you do not know the other dog and the wound is very deep. Dogs can carry bacteria in their teeth or be infected with rabies that is highly contagious. So, take your dog to the vet immediately to avoid complications of a dog bite infection under the skin.
In the first few days after surgery, your dog will instinctively try to clean the operation wound by licking. As the incision starts to heal and dry, it may become itchy and your dog might scratch and chew at it. If your dog manages to open the wound this could result in a bad dog skin infection after surgery. Always monitor your dog after a surgery and make sure to keep its wound covered when you are not around. An Elizabethan collar can also help to keep your dog from licking the surgery wound.
Other causes of dog skin infection can be due to underlying illnesses. There are several possibilities here. Metabolic or hormonal problems can cause discolouration and scabbing of the skin that can turn into a bad skin infection if left untreated. Genetic skin diseases such as chronic Seborrhea and Follicular cysts can also result in skin complications and infection. Immune disorders such as Lupus can also be an underlying factor that causes chronic skin infections in dogs. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder which means your dog’s immune system attacks its own cells. This usually effects the dog’s skin and possibly its kidneys.
Long term effects of dog skin infections
Dogs with severe skin allergies and infection can develop black spots or patches. These black spots are a result of long term irritation and skin abrasion. In this case, the skin will become thick, itchy, and almost like and elephant’s skin. This is called lichenification and it is caused by long term skin inflammation. If these dark skin patches seem very dry or too troublesome to your pet, it may be a good idea to have your vet take a look.
Is a dog skin infection contagious?
Dog skin infections can be both contagious or non-contagious to humans and other animals. There is no quick answer to this question. It all depends on what type of skin infection your dog has. Contagious skin infections include parasitic infections such as scabies, bacterial infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and fungal infections such as ringworm.
A dog that has rabies can also transmit this viral disease to a human through an infected open wound. Non-contagious skin infections are usually a result of normal bacterial or fungal skin flora that are allowed to proliferate and cause skin disease in your dog. In any case, you should always consult the vet to make sure that your dog’s skin infection is not contagious to you or other dogs.
Dog skin infection natural treatments
There are many natural treatments for your dog skin infections. Below is a list of home remedies that are applied both topically or orally. The idea is to target and heal your dog skin infection with a holistic treatment. These are a quick way to start treating your dog’s skin infections immediately. However, it is always important to visit a vet at the earliest possible if the problem persists or keeps recurring.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Natural tea tree oil is an essential oil that is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal compound. Just a word of warning though; pure tea tree oil should not be ingested and is considered toxic for pets in its undiluted form! When used correctly and in a diluted form on pets, tea tree oil can be very effective in treating and preventing topical bacterial and yeast/fungal infections. Tea tree oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory which helps reduce skin inflammation that can lead to itchiness and irritation. The recommended dilution ratio is 0.1 to 1.0 % strength in a topical application. Dilute it with water and apply the affected area lightly with a spray bottle or with a cloth dipped in the solution. It can be applied up to 2-3 times a day. Tea tree oil should not be used on cats.
For skin that is infected or could become infected, you can disinfect with a gentle solution of povidone iodine. Disinfecting with Iodine solution will take care of yeast and common bacterial infections. It does not sting or irritate your dog’s skin and is safe if your dogs licks the area after cleaning. You can buy povidone iodine at any pharmacy. To disinfect your dog’s skin, you want to dilute the iodine until it’s the colour of iced-tea. Pour a little iodine in a dish and add some warm water to dilute it. Now take a clean washcloth and soak it in it. Just wipe the iodine-soaked washcloth over your dog’s sores. This removes the bacteria around the lesions and infected skin. Rinse the washcloth with clean warm water and do one more swipe across the infected skin. Dry the skin by gently patting the area with a soft dry towel.
3. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt has anti-inflammatory properties and is useful for soaking and cleaning wounds. It causes any abscesses to open up and drain, relieving pressure in the wounds and allow healing. To create a soak for your dog, mix 4 tea spoons of Epsom salt with warm water in a bath and mix it well. Let your dog soak in the warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. You can do this up to three times a day.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has an antiseptic and antifungal nature. It will give your itchy dog some relief from itchy skin but DO NOT use it on raw or open skin. If you apply this on an open wound this solution will sting. To avoid getting vinegar in any open cuts, fill a spray bottle with 50% water and 50% apple cider vinegar and target only the affected areas.
5. Plain Yogurt
Feeding your dog plain, sugar free yogurt offers many health benefits for your dog. It is a great source of calcium and also contains probiotics that help in the process of digestion by inhibiting the growth of other harmful bacteria. Since some yeast infections and skin irritation can stem from an imbalance in your dog’s digestive system, giving these probiotics to your dog can help with your dog’s itchy infected skin. Feed a small dog one teaspoon of yogurt and a big dog two teaspoons once a week. This will improve their overall gut health. Most dogs like the taste of yogurt so you can give it to them on its own. If your dog does not like the taste, you can always mix it with its food.
6. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties. In fact, dogs who are suffering from eczema, allergies, yeast infections, and even insect bites will benefit from direct application of coconut oil. You should coconut oil in the fridge or a cool, dry place so that it turns completely solid. For quick relief to dry and irritated skin, just massage a dab of the oil into the coat and skin of the affected area. You will start to see that your dog’s coat is improving while your dog also gets relief from the constant itching!
These at-home remedies for dog allergy itching are safe for most dogs and most skin issues. However, you should always consult a vet as soon as you think your dog might have a skin infection to avoid chronic skin diseases. A proper diagnosis is key to providing the most effective treatment for your dog’s itchy and infected skin. Once you’ve consulted with your veterinarian, feel free to try any combination of these home remedies, as they are all non-toxic and natural!