WELLBEING: How to Treat Itchy Skin in Dogs and Cats

How to treat itchy skin dogs and cats

Pet Nutritionist and Co-Founder of Dins Dins, Alison Daniel, shares her expert secrets on why itchy skin affects so many of our pets and what we can do to prevent and treat it.

Itchy skin isn’t pleasant for anyone – least of all our pets, and with a variety of causes, it accounts for a large proportion of vet visits. It’s not always easy to work out why our pet’s skin is causing itching and irritation, but understanding the three major causes is a good start to finding a cure.

Causes of Itchy Skin in Pets

As the skin is the largest organ in the body, problems in the skin are commonplace, but it’s important to be aware of the following:

  • Atopy (inhaling allergens such as dust or pollen)
  • Food allergies
  • Contact allergies (including fleas and ticks)

Atopic allergies are the most common and equate to over two thirds of all skin allergies. With higher pollen count increasing chance of irritation in the summer as well as year-round allergens including mould, household mites, furniture chemicals, air fresheners and fabrics including wool or nylon, many allergies tend to become noticeable via the skin.

Food allergies, whilst less common, are also a contributing factor. Whilst over 90% of dogs will be lactose intolerant by the age of 12 months (owners mustn’t feed them milk during this time), ingredients such as beef, wheat and soya are also culpable. Changes in diet are essential for this, and natural and raw products are prime substitutes.

The last contributors to skin irritation are contact allergies. Contact with things such as grass pollens, domestic products including washing powders, and the existence of fleas and mites can all increase the chances of skin allergies. A nutritionally balanced diet as well as natural parasite control are vital to control this. 

Alison’s Natural Alternatives 

With many allergies easily prevented through diet alteration, the simplest cure is to change or upgrade your convenience pet food. Meat digest, wheat gluten and corn will make dogs feel sluggish and lower the functionality of their immune system, leaving them prone for disease. As explained in our feature on feeding raw food diets, rotating protein sources – in particular duck, venison, turkey and lamb – is best.

Probiotics can also help with food sensitivities and atopic allergies by reducing reactions. If your pet is suffering from poor digestion, a probiotic – found in many natural food supplements like Din Dins Wickedly Raw Superfoods – is needed.

Supplements with seagreens, burdock, cleavers and dandelions can also help cleanse the body and reduce toxins from being omitted through the skin, meaning fewer factors to cause irritation. Similarly, antioxidants and immune promoting ingredients such as pre-sprouted barley, echinacea, borage and flaxseed help boost the immune system.

Fundamentally, regular exercise is also essential. Thirty minutes exercise a day will help circulation, and if pollen-rich areas cannot be avoided during these times then wipes, gentle bathing and natural product sprays will help reduce the likelihood of skin allergies picked up on the way.

Finally, and the easiest solution of the lot in avoiding contaminants – clean filter water!

Alison Daniel is a Pet Nutritionist and the Co-Founder of Din Dins natural nutritional health supplements for pets. 

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Sara is the Founder & Editor of StyleTails. A writer, design-lover and long-time animal-hugger, Sara launched StyleTails in 2012 to inspire people live a more beautiful life with their four-legged friends. Along with her canine sidekick George, a rescue Yorkie with a big attitude, Sara regularly commentates on luxury pet product and lifestyle trends and has been featured in Elle Decoration, BBC Radio, and is also an expert contributor to WGSN, the leading design trend forecaster.

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