Posted on: May 30, 2024 Posted by: Petsynse Comments: 0
Dog itching fury with allergies.

Has your dog got itchy skin that she cannot shake? Or does she develop itchy patches intermittently? Whatever your pup’s problem, it needs addressing. Itchy dog skin can be painful and stressful, and it needs to be nipped in the bud before it leads to open sores and skin infections. If you’re wondering, “What can I put on my dog to relieve itching?” You’ve come to the right place. 

I explore the symptoms and causes of itchy skin and when it’s time for immediate vet care. I also list our favorite home remedies for itchy dog skin, including homemade anti-itch spray for dogs and other soothing solutions. Plus, I also dive into our personal experience and review various over-the-counter products to help relieve your pup’s itchiness. So, let’s take a closer look.

Table Of Contents

Symptoms Of Itchy Dog Skin


The symptoms of itchy dog skin vary from dog to dog and depend on the cause and severity of the issue. Here are a few of the most common signs.

  • Excessive scratching, licking, or chewing
  • Inflammation or redness
  • Hot spots, scabs, or bumps on the skin
  • Open wounds or pus-filled blisters
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Discomfort or restlessness due to the distress

Causes Of Itchy Dog Skin

Purina Brand History Comparison.

There are many reasons why your dog might have itchy skin, almost too many to name. People often label itchy skin as dermatitis. However, this is a generic term that means inflammation of the skin, which occurs in most problematic skin cases. Here are some of the most common causes of dog itching.

  1. Food Allergies. If your pooch is intolerant of a food source, it can cause itchiness, which is the most common sign of food allergies. To determine food allergies, you must conduct an elimination diet trial or have your dog tested. The most common food allergens are dairy products, beef, chicken, lamb, egg, wheat, and soy.
  2. Environmental Allergies. Allergic dermatitis, or atopy, is where the skin reacts to environmental causes. The most common allergens include dust, mold spores, pollen, and household products such as bath or cleaning solutions. There is no cure for environmental allergens, but identifying and eliminating them as much as possible is crucial. 
  3. Seasonal Allergies. Like humans, dogs are susceptible to seasonal allergies. Common seasonal allergens include pollen, grass, and trees. Like environmental allergies, there is no cure, but you can reduce exposure and make their symptoms as comfortable as possible. 
  4. Parasites. Insect bites or saliva can lead to severe irritation, and it is important to regularly inspect their fur, remove any insects you find, and treat them appropriately. The most common parasite in dogs is fleas, although ticks, lice, mites, and worms can also affect your dog’s skin. If you think your pup has fleas, head to our home remedies for fleas guide.
  5. Infections. Itchy skin is one of the most common skin infection symptoms in dogs. A common cause is yeast, often caused by a hormonal imbalance or sweaty skin folds, or pyoderma, caused by excess scratching. If the dog’s skin has an open wound, bacteria can enter, which can lead to a variety of infections. 

Determining what’s causing itchy dog skin can be tricky, so consulting your veterinarian is the best option. They can hopefully determine possible causes through a systematic process of elimination and potentially conduct allergy tests. In some rare cases, despite extensive testing, it’s not been possible to identify what’s causing a dog’s itchiness. 

If you want to determine what’s bugging your pup in the comfort of your own home, check out our guide to the best at-home allergy testing kits

General itching isn’t usually a sign of something serious, but it can be painful and stressful for your pup. Thankfully, most cases are easily treatable. If your dog is constantly scratching and biting herself, damaging her skin, or developing other symptoms, such as restlessness, loss of appetite, or behavior changes, it’s time to visit your vet. Identifying the cause of chronic itchiness is crucial to stopping the need to scratch and preventing open wounds and skin infections. 

Did You Know?

Pet insurance can cover testing, treatment, prescription shots, and medications for allergies as long as no signs or symptoms appear until after your policy enrollment and waiting periods have passed. Learn more about pet insurance coverage for dog allergies, and read our pet insurance reviews for more information.

8 Home Remedies For Itchy Dog Skin

Coconut paste and coconut on a table.

Doggy itchiness doesn’t always require veterinary attention, and sometimes home remedies can be effective. If your pup doesn’t require immediate medical help, here are eight itchy dog home remedies.

1. Colloidal Oatmeal Bath

A colloidal oatmeal bath can soothe your pup’s skin by washing away allergens trapped in her fur, reducing inflammation and cooling her uncomfortable skin. Oatmeal is a great anti-inflammatory and a non-toxic ingredient for dogs. A colloidal oatmeal solution is where the oats are ground into a powder and warmed to release the colloidal. 

You can buy ready-made colloidal oatmeal solutions (I review one in my recommendations below) or make your own. To make it yourself, grind oats into a fine powder and place them into a bathtub filled with warm water to make a milky consistency. Pour the solution over your dog’s coat and gently massage it all over, concentrating on the itchy areas. Leave the solution to sit on her coat for about 10 minutes and rinse it off.

2. Chamomile & Green Tea Soak

The use of chamomile and herbal tea soaks is an age-old remedy for itchy skin that has been effectively tried and tested for years, so it’s not just an old wives’ tale. Chamomile and green tea have anti-inflammatory properties and contain polyphenols that reduce itchiness. 

Add several chamomile and green tea bags to the bathtub and let them steep for three to five minutes. Remove the teabags, and once the water is cool, place your pup in the tub and pour the water over them. Let them soak in the bath for at least five minutes. If your pooch has hot spots or localized itchiness, steep one or two tea bags in two cups of hot water. Once the tea has cooled down, rub it into your dog’s skin or put it into a clean spray bottle and spray her as a quick fix. If possible, let her drip dry without rinsing.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar Spray

Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits for humans and pets, including skin health. It has anti-inflammatory features, helps to rebalance skin pH, and has antimicrobial properties. Although some websites recommend putting apple cider vinegar in their water or food bowls, this is not recommended. Many vets agree this can cause gastrointestinal problems and enamel breakdown in your pup. In a clean spray bottle, combine an equal mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, and spray your dog’s itchy areas with the solution. 

Never use apple cider vinegar on open wounds or raw skin. It can be extremely painful for your pup and do more harm than good. It’s also essential never to use undiluted apple cider vinegar as it is too acidic, so mixing it with water is important. 

4. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is another natural remedy that can help soothe itchy dog skin. It’s also non-toxic. You can buy coconut oil in most grocery or drugstores, but always purchase unrefined or cold-pressed oil, which is natural and processed to retain nutrients better. I regularly use coconut oil on my scalp when it feels dry and itchy. Remember that coconut oil is very attractive to dogs, and they’ll likely try to lick it off. Too much coconut oil can lead to gastrointestinal upset and weight gain, so monitor them and wash the oil off. 

Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to the area for dry skin patches, itchy paws, or hot spots. Never use too much, as it can clog pores, leading to more inflammation and itchiness. You can also massage it all over their skin in the bathtub, let it rest for five minutes, and then rinse it off. 

5. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera also has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce redness, cool hot skin, and heal disturbed skin. You can purchase 100% aloe vera gel in most drugstores or harvest it from an aloe vera plant. If you buy an aloe gel, purchase one that doesn’t contain any alcohol, as it might burn your dog’s skin. Rub a small amount into the affected area, and you don’t need to rub it off. 

The gel from aloe vera plants is non-toxic. However, the rest of the plant is toxic, so be sure to keep it out of paws’ reach. 

6. Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is a staple in most pantries, and it can also be used to alleviate itchy dog skin. Mix baking soda with water in equal measures to create a paste. Apply this paste to the itchy and sore areas, let it sit for around 15 minutes, and then rinse. You can combine the mixture with a small amount of coconut oil or aloe vera gel to offer an extra moisturizing effect.

Don’t let your pooch eat the paste. Although baking soda is non-toxic in small quantities, it can lead to stomach upset. 

7. Change Diet

Many dogs, like humans, are allergic to a variety of ingredients. Some of the most common food allergens are dairy products, chicken, lamb, beef, egg, wheat, soy, corn, and gluten. An elimination diet can help you identify the food source causing the itchy skin, and if you do, don’t give it to them in the future. Watch this quick video on elimination diets and how they work.

Salmon and duck are common protein alternatives for dogs allergic to the more common meats. Whatever diet you change to, introduce it gradually according to the package instructions to avoid stomach upset. Be sure to read our article on changing your dog food gradually and safely. 

In addition to foods with salmon or duck as the sole protein source, limited-ingredient dog foods are another great way to eliminate certain ingredients. 

8. Dietary Supplements

There are a wide range of supplements to choose from, and many target a wide range of skin problems, including itchy skin and allergies. These options usually come in soft chews, capsules, or liquids. Soft chews often contain a blend of ingredients that target itchy skin. In comparison, fish oil supplements usually include just one ingredient. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is widely recognized as beneficial for skin and coat health as well as joint, heart, cognitive, and kidney health. Learn more about how fish oil can benefit your dog.

You should always consult your vet before adding supplements to your dog’s diet. Although they might benefit their skin health, they could also cause more harm than good. 

Over-The-Counter Treatments For Itchy Dog Skin

There are a variety of treatments for allergies and itchy dog skin that you can purchase without a vet prescription. They also target different causes of itchy skin in various forms and flavors. Here is a selection of some of our favorite anti-itch over-the-counter treatments categorized by form. 

Best Anti-Itch Chew Supplement: Zesty Paws Salmon Bites Supplement Review

Zesty Paws Salmon Bites Supplement

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Zesty Paws is one of the leading pet supplement brands, and these soft chews are rich in anti-itch ingredients for all life stages. Each chew contains omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, including salmon oil, kelp, biotin, and vitamins C and E. They also feature an algae-derived DHA source, a key ingredient for skin health.

These treats come in salmon and bacon flavors, and customers say that their fish-hating Fido’s love the bacon flavor option (while still getting their fish oil intake.) These chews help to maintain skin moisture, support skin health, and offer an immune system boost. See more top picks in our reviews of the best dog allergy supplements.

Best Anti-Itch Liquid Supplement: Chew + Heal Pure Salmon Oil Liquid Supplement Review

Chew + Heal Pure Salmon Oil Liquid Supplement

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This liquid supplement is made from wild-caught Alaskan salmon, providing maximum potency from one sole ingredient. Alaskan salmon is rich in omega fatty acids and vitamins. It is designed to reduce itching and dandruff, combat skin allergies, and promote healthier skin and coat. This bottle has a convenient pump function to squirt it into their meals, meaning less mess and accurate dosage.

Puppies over eight weeks old can enjoy this liquid, providing health benefits for joints, heart, and more. Customers like that their picky pups loved the flavor, and it is much easier than offering fish oil capsules. Read our reviews of the best salmon oil for dogs for some more top picks.

Best Anti-Itch Shampoo: TropiClean OxyMed Medicated Anti-Itch Shampoo Review

TropiClean OxyMed Medicated Anti-Itch Shampoo

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TropiClean’s medicated oatmeal shampoo is great for any parent who wants to bathe their pet in a convenient pre-made colloidal formula. This shampoo penetrates pores, offering a deep clean to rid your pup’s coat of dust, dirt, and other allergens. At the same time, it moisturizes and soothes itchy and inflamed skin. This shampoo contains coconut, aloe vera, and other vitamins to support your dog’s skin. Many reviews comment on how fast-acting this formula is. For other top options, check out our reviews of the best dog shampoo for allergies.

Best Anti-Itch Topical Ointment: Zymox Topical Cream Hydrocortisone Review

Zymox Topical Cream Hydrocortisone

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Last but not least is this topical antimicrobial ointment, which features a natural enzyme formula to treat skin infections, wounds, and cuts that are causing excess itching. It aims to treat infections caused by bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses. The active hydrocortisone ingredient provides instant relief from inflammation and itching. It also contains aloe vera, which assists with soothing. This ointment is a natural formula and is an excellent alternative to antibiotics. 

Our Personal Experiences With Itchy Dog Skin

Here is our personal experience with itchy dog skin and how we treated it.

One winter, my dog’s skin became very red and itchy. I took her to the vet, who said she had skin allergies leading to a staph infection. She said the dry skin that was flaking off and a bump on her belly that looked like a zit were two signs that she had a staph infection. She put her on an antibiotic and steroid to clear it up. Our vet told us this was the number one condition they see during winter. Now, whenever we notice her licking her belly excessively, we use over-the-counter Cortizone itch-relief cream, which keeps it from worsening. We make sure she doesn’t continue licking after we put the cream on, so the Cortizone can do its job and she doesn’t ingest it.

Kimberly Alt, Coonhound Mix Parent & Pet Insurance Expert For Canine Journal

Frequently Asked Questions

We know some of our readers still have questions about itchy dog skin and how to relieve it. If you don’t see your question, ask us in the comments below, and we’ll find out for you. 

What’s The Best Anti-Itch Home Remedy For My Dog?

This depends on a wide range of factors, including what is causing your dog’s itchy skin, their symptoms, and what ingredients you have available at home. Always be led by your pooch. So, if they have dry skin, opt for a home remedy containing moisturizing ingredients like fish or coconut oil. If your dog is chewing on their leg, you can opt for a convenient homemade anti-itch spray for dogs or a solution to rub into the affected area. It might take time and patience to find the best anti-itch homemade remedy.

How Can I Stop My Dog Licking Off The Remedies?

Dogs eat everything, and solutions and ointments are no exception. If you’re concerned that your pup might eat the product or it’s something they shouldn’t consume, it’s best to use an Elizabethan collar. These are commonly known as the “cone of shame.” We have a guide to the best e-collar alternatives to prevent them from licking the solution off. Alternatively, you must stay with and monitor them until you rinse them off thoroughly. 

What Can I Give My Dog Orally For Itchy Skin?

Your dog can take a range of anti-itch dietary options orally. These include soft chews and liquid supplements you can squirt over their meals or offer in capsule form. You can also change their diet to a high-quality option with limited ingredients or one free from the allergen causing the itchiness. Most home remedies are specifically for use on the skin, and these solutions should never be given orally. 

How Long Do Anti-Itch Remedies Take To Work?

How long it takes depends on the anti-itch remedy you have chosen. Some anti-itch shampoos, ointments, and homemade rubs offer instant relief from itchiness. Supplements can take several weeks before you can see a difference. If your pooch is in pain, excessively itching, or has an open wound, you should take them to the vet immediately. 

Does Your Dog Need A New Diet?

If you think your dog’s diet is responsible for their itchiness, it’s wise to speak to your vet. We have a guide on the best foods for dogs with allergies to find a possible option. Alternatively, many parents opt for fresh food options as they often contain all-natural ingredients that you can sometimes tailor for your dog’s food intolerances. 

Have you ditched the doggy itch with one of these home remedies? Or do you have your own remedy? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in our comment section below. 

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Emma is a dog owner with over 20 years of experience. She has also worked as a professional dog walker and sitter for many years, caring for several dog breeds with different needs, including skin allergies and itchiness. Emma dedicates countless hours researching the latest pet care, health, food, and training developments to keep her two best buddies and other doggy clients as happy and healthy as possible.