Do any of these questions sound familiar?
- My dog has itchy skin but I can’t find any fleas?”
- “We’ve out ruled that my dog has a food allergy but she still scratches, what’s wrong?”
- “I applied flea preventative medication so it can't be fleas ... or can it?”
The sound of your dog excessively scratching and itching produces anxiety in a lot of dog parents. Itching is a symptom of something amiss with the dog’s immune system. Vets call itching “Pruritus”.
In the Merck Vet Manual it states: “Pruritus is defined as an unpleasant sensation within the skin that provokes the desire to scratch”.
It is common in many types of skin disorders and commonly associated with flea allergy dermatitis and other allergic skin diseases.
Don’t rule out fleas
There is a misconception that having your pet on a flea spot on treatment program means they won’t get bit by fleas. There are a variety of reasons that your flea treatment might not be working as well as you think.
- You applied it incorrectly.
- Dry and unhealthy skin can affect how well spot on treatments work.
- 90% of the fleas lives not on your dog but in your yard and maybe in your house.
So you’ve applied flea treatment on your dog but that’s just address potentially 10% of the problem. The other 90% could be out in your yard.
Eliminating the possibility of fleas helps your dog stop itching if they are allergic to fleas.
Just like humans will react to ant or mosquito bites, dogs react to flea bites. So even if they have the spot on treatment, if they go outside and get bit by a flea, one flea bite can cause a lot of havoc. Some dogs even break out in an allergic rash from that one bite.
Get rid of fleas naturally in your yard
First identify where the fleas could be. They like warm, shady and moist areas. They tend to avoid direct sunlight and open grass.
Think about where your dog likes to hang out. Inspect areas around the garden furniture, trees and fences. If you do this while wearing white socks, watch to see if fleas jump up on your socks. They also tend to like debris so if you have piles of organic leaves and material, bag and rake those areas up.
Now that you are ready to address the yard, here are the ways you can approach it.
- Flood the yard with water. Flea larvae and flea eggs cannot survive a flooded lawn. The easiest and most natural way to eliminate them is to flood all the grass with water.
- Use cedar chips to keep the fleas out of your yard. Fleas hate the smell of cedar chips and you can use this to your advantage by covering the areas you have found fleas with cedar wood chips.
- use nematodes to get rid of fleas. A nematode called Steinerma carpocapsae is a parasite of fleas. It is known to effectively kill adult fleas as well as their larvae and pupa in grass and soil. Dog owners with large backyards can spray treat their gardens with a beneficial nematode solution to keep their dogss safe from flea menace in the summer months. Beneficial nematodes are environmentally safe, so they do not damage crops and gardens. Studies have shown that these ‘non-toxic pest control operators’ can eliminate more than 90% of flea larvae within 24 hours of the first application.
Once you’ve comfortably addressed the flea problem look at your dog’s skin.
Is your dog’s skin dry?
Does your dog have a dry, brittle or thin coat? If so consult with your vet. it may be a symptom of a nutritional deficiency. Other reasons leading to a dry coat is that you might be using the wrong shampoos.
Dog skin has a different pH balance than human skin. It also is the largest organ in their body. We previously wrote about the pH balance on dog skin HERE.
Another often overlooked reason for a dry coat is under grooming the dog. Dogs need to be brushed on a regular basis to eliminate that dead skin and fur. A quick grooming sessions daily or 3 to four times a week will help your dog.
Assuming that you’ve addressed nutrition, are using the right shampoo and grooming your dog regularly you could also try:
Dry coat home remedies
- Add Omega 3 fatty acids. Don’t add too much and try to add it from whole food sources. Walmart carries sardines packed in water which you can add 3 to four times a week. You can also research various Omega 3 fatty acid supplements that are tailored for dog consumption.
- Apply natural topical oils. Another approach is to put a small amount of olive oil directly onto your dog’s skin once a day.
- Increase humidity in the air. Use humidifiers that can add moisture to the air.
Protect your dog by using a premium pet recovery collar
Lastly we recommend using one of our recovery collars to prevent your dog from gnawing away at their itchy spots.
Depending on the location of the affected area, the Kong Cushion or the EZ Calmer are ideal for them to wear during their itchy periods.
There are many reasons your dog could be scratching. Be sure to consult with your vet to make a correct diagnosis and prescribe a proper cause of treatment to resolve the true cause of the skin disease.
- Merk Veterinary Manual: http://www.merckvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/integumentary-system-introduction/pruritus
- Fleabites - how to get rid of fleas naturally: http://www.fleabites.net/how-to-get-rid-of-fleas-in-the-yard-5-effective-ways/
- Nematodes: http://www.fleabites.net/beneficial-nematodes-for-fleas-how-they-work/
- Dog Dry Skin Knowledge: http://www.dog-care-knowledge.com/dog-dry-skin.html
- Vet advice for your dog’s itchy skin: http://thebark.com/content/vet-advice-relief-your-dogs-itchy-skin