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Alternative Treatments for Itchy Pets
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M Duffy Jones, DVM posted:
I get a lot of pet owners' inquiries about non-pharmaceutical ways to treat pets' itching. Many owners are concerned about the possible side effects of conventional drugs and are looking for alternatives. There are a number of natural supplements which can promote good skin health for pets. But it can be difficult to weed through them all and find the ones that help. The following are a few that I have used and found helpful.

Shampoos
Shampoos are an easy way to treat your pet's itchy skin. There are many different types of pet shampoos made for specific conditions, including:
• Bacterial skin infections
• Yeast infections
• Both yeast and bacterial infections
• To soothe the skin (usually oatmeal-based products to help reduce inflammation)

The key to pet shampoos is to use them enough to reduce the itch, but not so much that you dry out the skin. Every pet is different concerning how much is too much. So make sure to ask your veterinarian to recommend a shampoo for your pet's specific situation. Also, be sure to ask your vet if more frequent shampooing could interfere with your pet's topical flea and tick protection.

Fish Oils
Fish oil supplements are potent anti-inflammatory agents. In pets with chronic inflammation, the skin gets depleted of natural oils that help to create the barriers that prevent infection. Fish oils work not only by decreasing inflammation, but also by replenishing some of the oils in the skin that may be depleted.

There's a lot of debate about what kinds of fish oils to use and at what doses. The kind and the dose you use will depend on what kind of pet you have, the size of your pet, and any other conditions your pet may have. A discussion with your veterinarian can help narrow down your choices.

The most common side effect we see with fish oil supplementation is an upset stomach. Some pets tolerate fish oils very well, while others can experience indigestion. But overall, fish oils can be very effective in treating inflammation and allergies with few side effects.

Probiotics
I've been successful in controlling my patients' itching by introducing probiotics to their diets. Probiotics have been found to help maintain healthy and natural balances within the intestines for good digestive health.

Vitamins
With long-standing skin inflammation, the body's natural barriers against infection can become depleted. Certain vitamins may work toward reducing inflammation and helping the body restore its own preventative barriers, thereby supporting the body's natural ability to keep the skin healthy.

These alternatives are just the ones that I like and with which I have had some success. This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are many more. So be sure to talk to your veterinarian about which alternative itch solutions will be best for your pet.

Also, remember that good flea and tick control are a must. Fleas and ticks on an already itchy pet can make the itching and inflammation even worse.

Have you ever tried using any alternative methods to treat your pet's itchy skin? If so, what have you tried and what did you find helpful?
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furm91 responded:
How about giving us some product names you have experienced success with?
 
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M Duffy Jones, DVM replied to furm91's response:
I have had good luck with many different brands and we are always experimenting with new brands and formulations. The only thing you want to make sure of is that they are made for pets. Pets take different dosages of vitamins, fish oils, and probiotics than people. As for specific brand names, it is difficult to for me to recommend any one brand since so much depends on species, size of your pet, and what type of formulation you are looking for, such as capsules, pills, powder, etc. Sorry I cannot be more specific, but check with your veterinarian and they can give you some good recommendations for brands based on your pet's medical history. I would hate to recommend a product and possibly make your pet sick because of an underlying medical condition that I do not know about.
 
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GeorgiaOnMyMind3 responded:
I've also found the probiotics for dogs can really help their digestion and allergic symptoms. My Lab couldn't digest anything until we put her on the fish formula Alpha by Natural Balance. Like you said, I think the fish oils really help her skin and coat and the probiotics have thankfully taken her diarrhea away. And the superfoods and vitamins keep her symptom free.
 
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SLMP56 replied to M Duffy Jones, DVM's response:
How about using a shampoo for itchy skin? I have used Head and Shoulder's for itchy scalp on my son's dog. It seems to help a little bit.
 
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mywhitedog responded:
MY most important recommendation is: make sure your dog is not allergic to any ingredients in the products you are using! Allergy testing works.Allergy shots 1 1/2 years. my dog is allergic to aspergillus molds. Can she take pre or probiotic that contain aspergillus as an enzyme? I am confused about the difference about being allergic to the actual mold and the enzyme containing the mold. Can anyone explain this to me. I know my dog needs to take probiotics or enzymes for good digestion since she has food, airborne, contact, etc allergies. Also, She is having reactions to food/supplements containing fish, crab, shellfish. My vet says she is not allergic to fish oil, etc, but having histamine release when she ingests them. Therefore, how do i get the necessary omega oils/supplements into her diet without the use of fish, crab or shellfish? I really need some suggestions. My dog has hair loss, red, flaky, itchy skin. If your dog has contact/ airborne allergy bath your dog. I was using a soapfree aloe/oatmeal cleanser that had lactic acid but not oils that worked great. I am trying to find a better soapfree cleanser for her since she has to be bathed at least twice per week or she gets more greasy flaky red itchy hair loss. I have not been able to find a soapfree cleanser with just aloe and oatmeal without all of the filers and oils added, so if anyone has found one please let me know.

Keep the ears clean! Zymox is good ear cleanser, some have hydrocortizone, so check labels. Her ears keep getting infected,red and irritated like her skin. I bring her to a dermatologist, and use the recommended ear treatments, but as soon as i stop the problem comes back.

I have been told that my dogs case is very difficult due to her allergies and hypothyroid disease. Ask your vet about your dogs thryroid function. My dogs problems would be less if her thyroid disease had been diagnosed and treated sooner. Now i am trying to keep her comfortable/healthy at 10 years old which is very expensive and difficult. Recently i discovered some foods I was feeding her had the aspergillus enzymes in them in several varieties which may have been causing her more problems, but I did not know about her allergy to aspergillus mold until this month when I asked for her allergy testing results again, for my records. So always try to get all of your dogs testing results from your vet, and make copies.

For dogs that can use other shampoos I have been told and have used Zymox shampoo and conditioner. the Zymox conditioner is probably the best because it truly deflakes your dog without stripping the oils and you can use it often as recommended on the label even if you do not need to bath you dog yet, you can just use the conditioner.

Another recomendation is with probiotics, make sure they are made in the USA and the ingredients are from the USA as well by a good company. Not all probiotics are made the same. a good way to make sure your dog can take them is to call the company and ask for samples, good companies will send samples before you have to make a purchase and that is wonderful. Same with foods as well. I recently purchased some products and when I received them only one stated it was made in the USA only, nothing about the ingredients being from the usa, and that was not on the website, so beware , look at the labels carefully, just because it says made in USA, does not mean ingredients are from the USA as well!
After having several dogs with allergies because of the breed I like, I think dogs with allergies do better on wet/dehydrated foods over dry foods, probobly due to wet food/dehydrated foods tend to have less to no preservatives and preservatives can cause allergies to be worse.
Investigate homeopathic chinese herbs: I have read over over again that they work as an alternative. Traumeel homeopathic medicine works great for pain and it has almost no side effects unlike non steroidal.
I do not know about vitamins need information.


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