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How can I get my dog to stop scratching?
It's a question any dog owner who's ever had a pooch with hot spots, allergies, fleas, or other common skin problem has asked.
In many cases, the missing ingredient isn't another topical cream or powder. Treating your dog for itchy skin from the outside can only do so much.
What you very well might be missing is a dietary dog supplement for dry, itchy skin.
Supplements that are formulated specifically to help soothe itchy skin on dogs can help alleviate many of the problems associated with several common dog skin conditions. Like hot spots, skin lesions, and infections.
But which dog supplements for itchy skin should you be considering?
The six supplements listed below (in alphabetical order) are the best dog supplements for itchy skin we identified.
Hot spots, dermatitis, pruritus (ie itchiness). They're all the result of your dog's skin becoming inflamed. So, an anti-inflammatory supplement can help.
They're also aggravated by things like excess yeast or fungi. In these cases, an antibacterial and antimicrobial supplement can help.
And that's where coconut oil comes in. And why it's an excellent supplement for itchy skin on dogs.
Coconuts contain high levels of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a specific type of fatty acid (different from omega fatty acids) that, like colostrum, are present in high numbers in mother's milk.
Such high levels of MCTs give coconut oil antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
This means it not only helps to ease inflammation, it can help reduce the yeast or fungus that is irritating your dog's skin.
It's also low in omega-3 and omega-6, making it a perfect oil to pair with other supplements, like fish oil and sunflower oil, that are high in omega fatty acids.
Mother's milk. Colostrum, a key ingredient in mother's milk, is one of the better dog supplements for itchy skin, especially when mixed with other supplements for itchy skin on dogs.
Colostrum is the first milk that mammals produce after giving birth and it's packed with all kinds of nutrients, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and antibodies. It's critical to the development of a strong, healthy immune system.
But it's not just good for the newly born. It's immunity-boosting properties can be enjoyed by adult dogs too. And when your dog's immune system is strong, it's less likely to overreact to harmless substances like pollen, fleas, or foods.
In other words, it can help resolve your dog's allergies. Which in turn eliminates the dry, itchy skin that causes him to scratch.
By far one of the best dog supplements for itchy skin is fish oil.
Most fatty fish, like salmon and anchovies, contain loads of omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your dog in many ways, including keeping your dog's skin and coat healthy.
Packed with DHA and EPA (two of the most important omega-3s), when used alone or as part of a multi-ingredient supplement, salmon and anchovy oil are excellent at relieving any dry, itchy, flaky skin your dog might be suffering with.
And that's not just us saying it!
In a 1994 study, researchers studied the effectiveness of a high-dose EPA marine-oil based supplement on 16 dogs suffering from chronic itching (idiopathic pruritus), skin allergies (confirmed atopy), and/or a flea allergy. Dogs receiving the marine oil supplement showed a "significant improvement" in itchiness, self-trauma, and coat character after six weeks.
With both omega-3 and omega-6, using flaxseed oil as a supplement can help relieve your dog of dry, itchy skin in much the same way that fish oil and sunflower oil do.
Researchers in 2001 found that a one-month supplement of either flaxseed oil or sunflower oil provided temporary improvements in the skin and hair of 18 normal dogs.
And in 2017 researchers found that increasing the levels of dietary ALA (the primary omega-3 in flaxseeds) in dogs with atopic dermatitis helped improve their symptoms.
However! Flaxseed oil is at its most beneficial when used as part of a mix of several different supplements. This is because the type of omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) that it contains must first be converted into EPA and DHA to aid with skin irritation.
The result? You get less bang for your buck with flaxseed oil than you do with fish oil. But when combined, they pack a powerful punch.
Similar to colostrum, probiotics are a critical element in maintaining your dog's overall immunity. They do most of their work in your dog's gut, but their effects can be felt throughout her body.
So, as crazy as it might sound, healthy skin does begin in the gut. This is namely because a dog with a strong, healthy digestive system is less susceptible to food allergies, a common cause of many dog skin conditions.
In an article on Petmd.com, Dr. Teresa Manucy, DVM, states that one of the side benefits of using probiotics as a supplement for dogs is that it may "reduce allergic reactions by decreasing intestinal permeability and controlling inflammation."
Probiotics aren't only a top choice for a digestive supplement. They're also great as a dog supplement for itchy skin.
Among the omegas, omega-6 plays a predominant role in the health of your dog's skin.
The main source of omega-6? Plants. Like sunflowers. Which are high in linoleic acid (LA), making them one of the most effective dog supplements for dry skin.
Without getting too far into the scientific weeds, LA is vital to the makeup of your dog's skin cells. Most importantly, it's needed to maintain the thin water-based epidermal barrier that is the hallmark of healthy skin.
Dogs can't make linoleic acid on their own. They need to get it from outside sources and when they don't, they're more likely to suffer from dry, itchy skin.
According to Nutro, when studying itchiness in dogs "the importance of LA in skin health was also observed when this fatty acid was significantly reduced compared to normal animals."
But before you start looking for sunflower oil to feed straight to your dog… sunflower oil alone isn't enough.
To alleviate your dog's itchy, dry skin, you need to combine sunflower oil with one or more oils that contain the omega-6 arachidonic acid (ARA), which is only found in animal fats, including salmon.
Our deep dive into available supplements for itchy dogs reinforced our belief that a multi-ingredient option is the best choice for dogs with chronic itchiness. Because each ingredient has different scientific properties and attack your dog's skin problems in different ways, they are most powerful when they work together.
You'll find five of these natural dog supplements for itchy skin in Veterinary Formula Clinical Care's Skin Health & Itch Relief once-a-day chew.
And while we can't give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we mix the ingredients (our secret sauce, as it were), we can tell you what our customers say.
Like Sharon Allen, who said she's noticed her Chiweenie's digging and chewing of her skin has "slowed down quite a lot."
Or Gloria, whose Schnauzer's red, dry, flaky skin is finally healing (and the fur is growing back) after two months of using the supplement.
You'll also find fish oil and coconut oil, along with a powerful blend of probiotics, in Veterinary Formula Clinical Care's Complete Probiotic supplement. Use the two together for an immunity boosting treatment that will have your dog feeling and looking great.