My dog just won’t stop scratching!

Itching in dogs is a very common symptom – we see it daily here in our veterinary practice in Baton Rouge.  Allergies to pollen, food, and fleas are all causes, as well as infections and insects.  There are some simple remedies that we recommend all the time, and I bet you have some right now in your kitchen or bathroom!


1.  Antihistamines – these are over the counter strength medications that block the allergic reaction happening in your dog’s skin.  We commonly use Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, and others.  The doses may seem higher than what you are used to as a human, but amazingly your dog or cat will not be as sleepy as you or I would be!  Claritin and Zyrtec have the advantage of being given once a day, but you are limited to using it in larger dogs because of the pill size.  Ask your veterinarian if this is appropriate, and what your dog’s dose would be.

2.  Fatty Acids –any dog with allergies or itching needs to take a fatty acid supplement every day.  This acts to block some of the “itch pathways” in the body, similar to antihistimines, but a different path.  They have secondary effects of helping to moisturize the skin, leading to glossier haircoat, as well as being a general anti-inflammatory (good for arthritis, too!)  Fish oil capsules, flax seed oil, olive oil can all be used, and even foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

3.  Simple ear cleaner – doesn’t smell the best, but works well in a pinch:  equal parts hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and white vinegar.  This combo will kill yeast and bacteria and clean the ear canal really well.  Never use this in a ear that is raw or bleeding, as it will sting.  A nasal aspirator (found in baby aisle) works great to flush the solution into the ear – make sure the fluid can run out of the canal freely!

4.  Anti-yeast shampoos – believe it or not, Selsun blue actually will decrease the number of yeast on your dog’s skin.  Yeast is secondary usually to allergy or other chronic skin disease, but can contribute to itching and smelliness!  Bathe and allow to sit on skin for 10 minutes, then rinse well with cool water.  Don’t do this to a cat!

5.  Soothing oatmeal bath (Aveeno), in cool water will help calm the skin significantly.  Soak for 15 or 20 minutes, two or three times a week.

Goes without saying (doesn’t it?) that good flea control is ESSENTIAL, as they just add to the itching.  Please consult your veterinarian before giving any over the counter medication, as sometimes even benign medicines can interact with your pet’s current medications.  And severe allergies sometimes require prescription strength medications – so you will need to consult with your veterinarian for that.  Contact us with success stories via our website, or Highland Road Animal Hospital on Facebook!