Itchy skin? by Richard Allport, our holistic vet

Itchy skin? by Richard Allport, our holistic vet

As the weather warms up and summer is approaching, every veterinary practice will soon be seeing increasing numbers of dogs and cats with itchy skin. This is partly because fleas and other parasites begin to abound but also because skin allergic reactions become more intense.

Some of the commonest allergies, especially in dogs, are to grass pollens and tree pollens. Whilst these can cause symptoms similar to hay fever, more often in dogs the allergic reaction is most obvious in the skin. This often causes not just itchy skin, but hot, red, itchy ears; itchy feet which are constantly nibbled and chewed; and itchy nose, face and 'rear end' – base of tail and under the tail. Because the ears and area below the tail are particularly sensitive, these are often the most itchy areas, so dogs are sometimes described as having 'ears and rear syndrome' and so many hapless dogs are brought into the veterinary consulting room shaking their ears, chewing their feet, rubbing their muzzles and trying to turn far round to nibble their rear ends. What to do? Most vets will advise that, apart from making sure dogs and cats are free of fleas, itchy skin is treated with antihistamines, or immune suppressants such as steroids. All these drugs can cause side effects, as all drugs can and do; which leads to the question, is there natural relief for the symptoms of itchy skin?

Yes, there is, both to use on the outside and from the inside. Let's start with the outside first. When a pet is really itchy, you want a product that will act quickly to ease the itch there and then, not something that will take days or weeks to work.

Skin Relief Spray is ideal to use as a fast relief for hot, itchy skin. It contains 14 herbal extracts together with propolis (made by bees) which between them act as anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agents to cool and soothe irritated skin and also help keep infection at bay. Propolis is a superb natural antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral; other ingredients in the Skin Relief such as Marigold and Comfrey are known for their soothing and calming actions, Geranium is antibacterial, White Lily and Coltsfoot are natural cooling herbs and the whole combination works synergistically to give rapid relief to dogs and cats that are itching and scratching.

For more regular and more preventive use, to help pets with long term skin irritations, Natural Sensitive Skin Shampoo is perfect. It contains black soap with flaxseed oil, wheatgerm oil, avocado oil, olive oil and several essential oils. This combination moisturises and softens the coat and cools hot and itchy skin. It's rich in fatty acids, omega 3 and 6, vitamins A, B complex, D and E, to help rebuild dry, flaky, damaged coats and keep skin supple. It cleans and soothes without removing the natural oils from the skin, and so is safe and effective when used regularly.

And now, the inside. I always say that skin issue is best treated from the inside out, as well as the outside in. External treatment will help resolve and relieve symptoms, but internal treatment will usually be necessary to attain deeper and more long-lasting results. Itchy Skin Complex is a practical way of achieving this. The granules in Itchy Skin Complex, which are simply mixed with food, comprise herbs, algae and fish extracts that are powerful natural aids to relieve itchy skin, seasonal irritation, hair loss, sore patches, and redness. The Complex also contains the supplements Biotin and Zinc which help strengthen weak and brittle nails. A wonderful all-round product for all types of skin and nail conditions.

There is strong link between a healthy skin and a healthy gut, and some skin allergies have their origins in digestive sensitivities and food intolerances. Looking after gut health is as important as looking after skin health. Digest’ Bioactive can be as vital to a healthy skin and coat as it is instrumental in promotion a healthy digestion. It contains prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes and Montmorillonite and Bentonite clays, all of which contribute to the aim of achieving a happy pet with a trouble-free digestive tract and an itch free skin and coat.

What else? I don't usually recommend giving many supplements on a long term, permanent basis, but one supplement I do suggest giving long term is D-Dog Superfoods. This is a supplement that is high in green superfoods like Spirulina and Chlorella, as well as a wide range of vitamins and minerals that support the immune system. It also includes omega 3 and 6 for optimum skin and coat condition and to help prevent dry and itchy skin. D-Dog Superfoods beta is a companion supplement that contains similar ingredients but has extra beta carotene, which gives it stronger anti-oxidant properties, and particularly helps improve coat pigmentation and colour. It is particularly beneficial in returning skin condition to normal after a bout of skin disease of any kind, including eczema.

There is nothing that can guarantee an itchy pet can avoid the use of pharmaceutical drugs for skin problems but using the products I have mentioned will reduce the likelihood enormously. And will be safer and better for your pet.

Article Author: Richard Allport, BVetMed, VetMFHom, MRCVS
Article Date: 25 April 2019