My name is Carina Guillory of For God’s Glory Farm, www.alittleblessing4u.com Between dog rescue and raising Goldendoodles as service and therapy dogs as well as family companions, we have been “in dogs,” for 27 years. The health of our dogs is something I’m extremely passionate about. Over the last 27 years we have been on a journey to help our dogs live the longest, healthiest, happiest lives possible. We are what’s called a natural rearing holistic breeder. We have witnessed time and time again, that minimizing/eliminating you dog’s chemical and pharmaceutical load, using titer testing rather than annual vaccinating and feeding a biologically appropriate diet (aka, raw food,) goes a long way towards these goals.
One of the questions I’m asked more frequently than all others, (usually it’s from doggie parents that feed kibble,) is “My dog is itchy, what can I do about it.” If you have a conventional vet and take them in for this problem, they’re most likely to prescribe you a steroid or an antibiotic wash to use to bandaid the issue. Steroids work in the beginning but they are a slippery slope to all manner of side effects and ultimately decreased health. Itchy skin is a symptom of a deeper issue.
Here’s the questions I first ask and then some suggestions I give to deal with the issue.
Do you use a topical or oral conventional flea/tick/heartworm medication on your dog?
What do you feed your dog?
What do you bath your dog in?
Does your dog frequently walk/play on grass?
If you’re using a conventional flea/tick/heartworm medication, I suggest discontinuing it’s use and instead making up a natural flea/tick/heartworm repellent using water, apple cider vinegar neem oil and essential oils. Rub your dog down with the repellent daily in the morning and then again if you’re going out that day. It’s a simple routine to get into and takes all of 30 seconds! If your dog has been receiving conventional flea/tick/heartworm medication, I recommend detoxing the body by using this kit per directions on the box. If you live in an area with a lot of mosquito activity, besides using the daily essential oil spray, I recommend using this natural remedy along with a yearly heart worm test, for those that would like to delve deeper into the cycle of heart worm and learn why it’s not necessary to use monthly treatments of poison on your dog, here’s a great heartworm article to get you started.
The next suggestion is that if you’re currently feeding your dog kibble, switch to feeding a raw food diet. To switch from kibble to raw, I recommend a 24 hour fast for dogs over 12 months old and over 10 pounds. Continue to offer water and you can also offer a good quality store bought bone broth, or better yet, homemade bone broth during the fast.
There are many ways to go about feeding raw that vary in cost and levels of quality. Perhaps the most convenient, (however also the most expensive and often lower quality,) is to purchase the premade hamburger looking patties from your local pet food store or online and have it delivered to your home. When one of our clients wants to use this method of feeding, I urge them to find a raw food that gets all it’s nutrients from food and not synthetic supplements and to look for one that is a minimum of 85% meat/bones. As people start seeing the benefits of feeding a raw food diet it’s becoming less fringe and more common place. There are now lots of pet food companies wanting to get in on the action. Like feeding kibble, different companies offer products of varying quality. I do feel that even the lowest quality raw food is still better than the highest quality kibble.
My personal preference for feeding my dogs the highest quality at the most reasonable cost is to prep their meals myself using human grade ingredients from local farmers and restaurant supply stores. By doing this I know every detail of what they are getting and can adjust as I see fit for each dog. Plus letting a dog chew on a bone and tear apart chunks of raw meat is biologically appropriate while eating all their food ground up into mince, isn’t! There are many benefits of feeding raw meaty bones, that you can read about in the book Give Your Dog A Bone.
We currently feed an approximate percentage of 50% raw meaty bones (chicken/duck/turkey/quail/rabbit,) heads, carcasses, feet, necks, backs, 35% muscle meat and 15% organs. Not sure about feeding your dog raw, a great book to read is Give Your Dog A Bone By Dr. Ian Billinghurst.
Most of our clients see a huge improvement with their dog’s itchy skin after about 4-6 weeks of feeding raw. One bit of advise in feeding your dog raw, make sure to feed a variety of foods and protein sources. One of the most common beginner mistakes is to feed all or mostly chicken as it’s cheap and easy to come by. Make sure you’re feeding a minimum of 4 different protein types and 6 would be better. Four is easy, pork, beef, chicken, turkey. Add in rabbit and lamb once in awhile and you’ve hit six different protein types!
Especially important for dogs with itchy skin, use a fermented veggie for the veggie portion of the raw food. If you’re feeding a premade raw food, add a fermented veggie such as fermented sauerkraut, to his meals. A tablespoon mixed into each meal for a large dog or a teaspoon for a small dog, will do wonders. Dogs don’t digest plant matter very well. I like to throw my fermented veggies into the blender and ground them up well. This helps your dog get the full spectrum nutrients out of the veggies.
Kefir is another excellent addition to add to your itchy dog’s diet. It will help re establish good gut bacteria which helps your dog’s whole immune system be healthy, Organic Pastures sells a raw, organic kefir and most health food stores carry it. There is also a goats milk kefir carried in some grocery stores, it’s called Redwood Hill. Just make sure to buy the plain, unsweetened kind. Put a tablespoon or two over each of his meals.
For bathing your itchy dog, first, don’t bath too often unless he’s frequently playing/walking in grass. Grass if often sprayed with chemicals that irritate a dog’s skin. If this is the case, you can wash his paws/legs with a diluted solution of castile soap and water to wash the chemicals off. Make sure not to use a synthetic doggie wash on your pet or you’ll be adding poisons to his skin which is absorbed into his blood stream. You want to use a completely natural product such as castile soap diluted with water or Tropical Traditions (online,) pet shampoo, all other pet shampoos I’ve seen are synthetic, even if they say “natural.” You can rub him down with melted coconut oil after his bath to sooth his skin, yes, he will be greasy for a while, but it will help immensely as coconut oil is an antibacterial, and anti fungal so if he has something going on other than an issue with the food, that will help. I’d suggest mixing the coconut oil with neem oil, tea tree, lavender and rosemary essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, (online store.) That will give you a natural flea and tick repellent, as well as a bunch of other benefits for healthy and non itchy, moisturized skin. If you prefer to purchase, I make a truly natural dog shampoo and coat conditioner. Choose Clean Beastie Wash and Coat Conditioner from the drop down menu.
Fermented Cod liver Oil/Butter Oil, here is a link so you can see what it is but you may be able to get a better price elsewhere, you’d have to look. We buy ours in bulk from a co-op. Give him half a teaspoon a day over his food or let him lick it from the spoon as a treat. Note, I don’t use fermented cod liver oil year round as I don’t want to overdose my dog with vitamin A. It is good to use for three months or so on a dog that’s coming off being fed a conventional diet of kibble dog food.
Give your dog one teaspoon to one tablespoon of a food derived vitamin C such as this one I make or you can make one up yourself. This helps him to get out of an inflammatory condition faster, (but if you don’t switch to raw, the inflammatory condition of his body will still be there, most kibble dog foods, even those supposedly grain free, have tons of starch that causes an inflammatory condition in your dog and intense itching.)
I’d also recommend giving this herb supplement, superfood & herbs. It contains many adaptogenic herbs and superfoods to boost your dog’s health. For those that like to do it yourself, you can mix up equal amounts of each of the ingredients in this food and herb based supplement to create your own.
To further provide anti inflammatory relief, add turmeric golden paste, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp three to four times a day to your dog’s diet. You can find the recipe here, or if you prefer, you can purchase it here,
Following this advise will put your dog onto the path of better health and quality of life. Give it 4-6 weeks to see a reduction of itchy skin. You may find that your dog has developed an intolerance to one or more particular protein types. If this is the case, don’t put them back on kibble or worse, those “prescription pet foods!” Try eliminating chicken while continuing to rotate several other protein types. We see a lot of dogs that have been fed kibble in the past, have an issue with chicken, especially if you’re feeding conventional chicken versus pastured chicken which has a more appropriate fatty acid ratio. Conventional chicken is high in omega 6, making it inflammatory. You may be able to add it back in, in time, but for now, if you find it causes your beloved fur baby to itch, leave it out.