Many dogs suffer from itchy skin, whether it be year round or seasonally. It can be very uncomfortable for your pet and the scratching and biting can lead to sores and skin infections. This irritation is often caused by a sensitivity or allergy to something environmental, in their food, or a chemical they are being exposed to.
Before I started cooking my own dog food (a recipe provided by my vet), one of our dogs was so chronically itchy that we had to put him in a cone for weeks on end to stop him from gnawing his skin raw. It was so sad. By feeding him a healthy, natural meal chalk full of healthy fats and essential nutrients, we were able to alleviate the problem altogether.
Itchy, irritated skin can be caused by a number of things in your pets. Bug bites and flea bites can cause random itching episodes, but when it becomes a chronic or persistent seasonal issue, it is likely a food or environmental trigger to blame. Your dog’s skin functions as a protective barrier against these triggers. When this is weakened, your pet becomes more susceptible to allergies and skin irritants.
Getting The Essentials
Essential fatty acids, like omega 3, have been found to significantly strengthen this epidermal barrier, reducing the likelihood of your pet having allergic, irritated skin. A poor quality diet will likely lead to a deficiency in this essential fatty acid, which is why skin conditions are a very common reason for vet visits. Most dry dog foods are just empty calories, very high in carbohydrates and lacking in any real nutrients your pet needs to support optimal function.
An essential nutrient is something the body cannot create it on it’s own and relies on food sources to receive adequate amounts.
Omega 3 and omega 6 are both essential fatty acids. Most dry foods are very high in omega 6, but are lacking in omega 3, creating an imbalance in essential fatty acids and a deficiency in omega 3. There is significant evidence that omega 3 and 6 play a role in helping to fight off most all illness and disease.
Changing Your Dog’s Diet
Luckily, the solution is quite simple. In an ideal world, you would start making your own dog food, working with your vet to create the right ratio of omega 3 and 6 in your food and ensuring your pet is receiving adequate amounts of healthy fats and high quality nutrient-rich foods on a daily basis. For those of you who do not want to take on such a large project at this time, but want to provide your itchy pup some relief, you can simply supplement with omega 3. Just add a liquid version right into their meals and you should notice a difference in no time.
In The Meantime
Supplementing with omega 3 will take a little time before you see results. The most important thing is to provide your pet with some form of natural, instant relief to stop the itching and allow any sores to heal. Something that can help to bring immediate relief to your itchy pup is applying coconut oil topically to any spots that are visibly irritated. This will help to soothe the spot, moisturize their dry skin and help to fend off infection. It is great for your pet’s coat too!
Essential oils can help to provide instant relief as well. Mixing in a couple drops of lavender to your coconut oil or applying a cool compress with water and a couple drops can help reduce the inflammation, prevent infection and soothe the irritated area upon contact. If your dog has never been exposed to essential oils before, please read about how to safely introduce your pet to essential oils first.
Just like in humans, pets have specific nutritional needs that are often not met by their diet. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to all types of immune and neurological conditions, weight gain or loss, allergies and much more. One of the more common deficiencies noted by vets is an omega 3 deficiency. By altering your pet’s diet and adding in a supplemental form of omega 3, you can help alleviate their skin conditions, boost their immune system and increase their overall health.