Treating Skin Disease at Home

Skin disease is one of the most common problems our dogs have to deal with and it can make them miserable. Fortunately, there are several things that can be done at home to relieve your dog’s itch. And more can be offered by your veterinarian if these remedies are not sufficient.

Feed a Good Diet 

Feeding a high-quality balanced diet is probably one of the best things you can do for your dog’s overall health. Your dog’s skin health will improve with a high-quality diet as well.

Unfortunately, many dogs suffer from food allergies. If this is the case with your dog, a high-quality diet will not be enough. You will also need to identify and remove the item or items that are causing your dog’s allergies. Choose a food with ingredients that your dog has not eaten previously. There are commercial diets that are available for this purpose or you can prepare the diet yourself. Feed your dog this new diet exclusively, with no treats or other snacks added. A change in diet can take up to 6-8 weeks to work so be patient.

If your dog’s diet does not already have omega-3 fatty acids added, supplementing the diet with either EPA or DHA from either a fish or kelp source may be helpful.

Bathe Your Dog Often

 We used to think that bathing a dog too often was a bad thing and could dry out your dog’s hair coat. We now know that frequent bathing can actually improve your dog’s coat and help keep his skin healthy.

For healthy dogs, bathing as often as once a week is acceptable although it is fine to bathe as necessary as well. However, for dogs with skin issues, bathing as often as every 3-4 days is advisable. Bathing removes any allergens (allergy-causing substances) from the skin and keeps the skin and hair coat clean.

Oatmeal based shampoos are a good choice for most itchy dogs. Benzoyl peroxide shampoos are often used for dogs that are seborrheic (have oily skin). For dogs with skin infections, chlorhexidine shampoos are a good choice. Shampoos containing phytosphingosine are actually capable of repairing some of the damage done to the skin.

Control Fleas for Your Dog 

Flea allergies are one of the most common causes of skin disease in dogs. Even if fleas are not the cause of your dog’s skin disease, a flea infestation will only serve to make the skin disease worse. There are a number of flea control products available for dogs. Consult your veterinarian to find out which flea control product is safest to use for your dog.

About Dr. Lorie Huston

Dr. Lorie Huston is a veterinarian with over 20 years experience treating dogs and cats. She is currently practicing in Providence, Rhode Island. Lorie is an expert in pet health and pet care in addition to being a talented writer and blogger.

Lorie blogs at the Pet Health Care Gazette but is widely published throughout the web. She writes at About.com in the area of veterinary medicine and is the feature writer for pet care at Suite101.com. She is also the National Pet Health Examiner at Examiner.com and the pet columnist at Untrained Housewife.com. Lorie is frequently consulted as an expert in the field of veterinary medicine and pet care. Her articles have also been featured in numerous venues both online and offline, including FIDO Friendly, Pet Sitter’s World and many others.

Lorie is a professional member of both the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and the Cat Writers Association (CWA) in addition to being a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association (RIVMA) and the Veterinary Information Network (VIN).

4 thoughts on “Treating Skin Disease at Home

  1. Excellent post, especially for first time dog parents or people with a dog with allergies. I’ll add a link from my blog to this.

    When we adopted, Sydney (our poodle mix) we used all three strategies. We moved him slowly to a high quality, chicken & rice diet (now chicken & potato with some turkey). Then we bathed him once a week with an oatmeal shampoo and kept him flea free. I’m happy to report that his former skin issues are rarely a problem.

    In addition, I added one Flax Oil capsule a day for skin and other breed specific, known health issues.

  2. Hi Deborah.

    Thank you. I’m glad you found the post useful. It’s good to hear that Sydney’s skin problems are a thing of the past.

    Flax Oil is another source of fatty acids and a lot of people do use that rather than fish- or kelp-source fatty acids. The proof is “in the pudding” as they say. If it’s working, don’t change it 🙂

  3. I think this article is NEEDED thank you! So many dog owners are overwhelmed by skin problems. One comment I wanted to make was about oatmeal shampoo. Sometimes oatmeal shampoo makes the problem worse, by feeding yeast, even though it may temporarily reduce symptoms, it fuels the problem. Aloe or coconut oil shampoo are great choices for itchy skin.

  4. This is great. I have 2 different breeds of dog (Beagle and Jack Russell) that have skin allergies. Frequent bathing seems to sooth the rash and itching, but a lot of websites say not to bathe your dog that often, because it’s cruel? They both need bathing at least every other day, if not daily, to control it. If not, the skin gets too irritated and they itch until the top layer is infected and rashy. Thanks a bunch!

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