There are different causes and irritants responsible for itching in dogs. Most common causes are skin conditions, infections, hot spots, parasites, allergies and environmental factors. After you consult with a veterinarian and any serious medical issues have been ruled out, the easiest way to solve this is with an itch relief for dogs remedies.
In a recent 2017 study (PDF), researchers found topical treatments to be effective for treating itchiness in dogs. Successful tests included both OTC treatments and prescribed antibiotic itch medications. Other studies showed that even holistic approach with the use of essential oils and coconut oil may sometimes be effective for an itchy dog, too.
Topical treatments with Triamcinolone acetonide were very effective at treating these conditions in dogs (1). They decreased swelling, redness, rashes and itchiness. For oral medications in more severe cases of itchy dog, Dextromethorphan was the most effective treatment, while also reducing licking, chewing and biting in dogs (2).
It's important to talk with your veterinarian about any specific best itch relief for dogs treatment. However, before you request a stronger antibiotic solution, some less intrusive over the counter dog itch relief remedies may solve this problem. We'll review these top five rated brands below:
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Why Is My Dog So Itchy?
Studies on causes of itchiness in dogs (Pruritus) show that the two most common culprits are dry skin and allergies. Dry skin in dogs could be caused by improper nutrition, food or environmental allergies (3). Mites, house dust, pollen, mold spores and antigens were all observed to cause itchy skin in dogs.
Dry Skin on Dogs
Cold, dry air in winter is known to dry out skin. If you live in an area with very low humidity, you may notice that your dog's skin is dry year round. This can be solved with a dietary change and use of dog clothes to protect your pet's skin outdoors.
In most cases, a dog's itchy skin is only a small nuisance. However, sometimes dry skin on dogs may be caused by parasites, hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease or even more serious health problems. It's crucial to diagnose the exact cause for an itchy dog and their dry skin before deciding on treatment.
Allergies in Dogs
Another common cause of itchiness in dogs is allergies, both environmental and food related. The only way to find out the exact allergen is to have your dog undergo allergy testing at a vet clinic. For food allergies (nutritional dermatitis) causing a dog's itchiness, there are three ways to fight them:
(a) switch to a different dog food brand
(b) use nutritional supplements proven to block allergic reactions
(c) topical use of best itch relief for dogs treatments
For supplements, pet owners need to use something to block dog's histamine release. Histamine release is what's causing inflammation, redness, swelling and itching in a dog. One way to accomplish this is by including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in your dog's diet.
Additionally, introducing probiotics into a dog's diet, particularly Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain, were shown to reduce allergic reaction and itchiness in dogs, too (4).
Flea, Tick, Bug Bites
Not only flea and tick bites, but other bug stings can cause itchiness, too. Your pooch is exposed to all kinds of pests and parasites when they're outdoors: mosquitoes, fleas, spiders, ticks, flies and bees can cause serious itchiness. When bitten, dogs tend to experience minor swelling and itching.
In the case of flea allergy dermatitis, itching may be more intense (5). Cat fleas were shown to be the most common fleas to bite dogs, and also one of the major causes in an itchy dog (6). To treat this, topical creams with selamectin were proven to be the most effective and fastest solution for serious flea itchiness (7). The next favorite in studies were imidacloprid/flumethrin solution (8).
All of these scientifically studied itch relief for dogs treatments designed for different causes are something you would need your veterinarian's prescription for. They are typically used in more severe cases of an itchy dog. For more benign and mild issues with itchiness, here are the five best itch relief for dogs solutions to buy over-the-counter.
Top 5 Best Itch Relief for Dogs Remedies
1Bodhi Dog Anti Itch Oatmeal Spray for Dogs
Bodhi Dog Anti-itch Spray is made with oatmeal and baking soda, as well as wheat germ, botanical extracts, and natural ingredients that deliver vitamins A, D, and E to the dog's skin. It is formulated to provide relief to dogs itching due to hot spots, insect bites, allergies, and other skin irritations. The spray is also a natural deodorizer. We found that Bodhi's anti-itch spray instantly soothed itching and stopped chewing and licking in our two dogs. It does not contain alcohol or any toxic ingredient.
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After a few successful tests, we've also scanned through other dog itch spray reviews from pet owners, and found most reported great results with Bodhi's product where their dogs immediately slowed down and relaxed their itching. Bodhi stops irritation of the skin, and allows the skin to heal faster, resulting in less itchiness. This is especially helpful at night when the itching seem to be worst in most dogs.
This best itch relief for dogs treatment has a mild pleasant scent that also seems to be a factor in calming the dog’s demeanor. The fresh scent stays on the dog for days and really works as a deodorizer. The first time you spray it, you may have to do it with a few gentle gusts before spraying full blast. The sudden fizz from the spray often scares dogs away, and you don’t want your dog disliking the spray even before it can do him or her any good.
2Bexley Labs Curaseb Chlorhexidine Spray for Dogs
Bexley Labs’ Curaseb Antiseptic Spray contains chlorhexidine and ketoconazole as active ingredients. It is formulated to treat skin diseases in dogs caused by bacteria, fungi, and allergies. We've found that many veterinarians recommend this formula for immediate relief from ringworm, pyoderma, yeast infection, dermatitis, blisters, scabies, hotspots, rashes, and other skin irritations. We also liked its pleasant scent and our dogs didn't find it annoying.
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Unlike most skin treatment formulations, Bexley Labs' best itch relief for dogs does not contain steroids, nor do you want steroids in your pet's skin treatment formula, unless for very severe cases. While they effectively reduce inflammation, they also bring a host of side effects. In most general cases, Curaseb does the job of reducing the itching and inflammation without the long-term side effects very well.
When sprayed at the onset of a rash, Curaseb would effectively stop the itch and its progression. You’ll notice that most times a dog’s skin problem is not solely bacterial, or fungal, or allergic; oftentimes, it's the combination of several factors. For instance, a dog can first have a rash due to allergy which can be exposed to bacteria later if your dog continues scratching. This is where Curaseb might be the best itch relief for dogs solution since it attacks several causes at once and is a wide-spectrum skin treatment for dogs.
3Vet's Best Hot Spot Itch Relief Spray for Dogs
Vet’s Best Hot Spot Spray is a topical solution made from tea tree oil, aloe vera, and chamomile. Tea tree oil for dogs has been proven as an effective antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral treatment. Aloe vera soothes and helps repair damaged skin while also conditioning the scalp and hair. Chamomile has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties as well. These three potent ingredients in one formulation worked well for our dogs to stop itching and irritation of the skin. This contains no alcohol, has a mild scent, and did not sting the skin in our case. It will not interfere with other topical solutions applied to the dog, either.
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You need to apply this directly on the dog's skin for it to work (as shown in the photo above). You may have to part the hair to do that, or for dogs with thick fur, you may need to shave them before applying this spray to get better results. While the effect is immediate, you will find that you’ll need to reapply to reapply it several times a day. If your dog finds the spray disconcerting, try another applicator or try rubbing with a cotton swab because it could just be the sound of the spray.
Vet’s Best Hot Spot Spray will not prevent rashes from appearing on other parts of a dog’s body, similar to the two other best itch relief for dogs solutions mentioned above, unless the source of the rash is treated. If the desired outcome is to prevent occurrence of rash on other areas, then the best solution in that case would be an oral treatment rather than a spray.
4Bodhi Dog All Natural Pet Hot Spot Spray
Unlike the first mentioned Bodhi's best itch relief for dogs product, this Bodhi Dog Hot Spot Spray is a plant-based treatment, particularly for dogs with hot spots. It is made from a blend of lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, menthol, and clove. This special formulation cools and soothes intense itching caused by hot spots, allergies, and other skin irritations. This is the best option for dogs sensitive to chemical-based topical solutions because it contains no harmful chemical or steroids, and it’s even naturally scented.
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It acts immediately to reduce itching, soothe the skin, and lessen discomfort but doesn't appear to be as effective and as long-lasting as the first rated product. It works as quickly as 10 minutes after application, however. By that time, you’d notice your dog calming down from intense scratching, and the spot looking less angry. As soon as you see your dog stop scratching and aggravating the hot spot, that’s one step toward healing. That effectively prevents the skin from tearing and microbes from setting in.
This botanical blend has antiseptic and antibacterial effects, so you’ll notice that after the itching eases down, the sores begin to dry up and start healing. For more severe infections, you may need to use this in tandem with the doctor’s prescription to treat the infection more vigorously. Continue using the Bodhi Dog Hotspot Spray to keep dogs from chewing and scratching the hot spot and to hasten healing.
5Vet's Best Itch Relief for Dogs Supplement
Vet’s Best Shed+Itch Healthy Coat Natural Formula is a supplement used to relieve itching in dogs and to regulate shedding. It comes in chewable tablet form. Its active ingredients are methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, quercetin, yellow dock root, Oregon grape root, nettle leaf, burdock root, and red clover blossom. MSM is a natural sulfur compound that treats inflammation and helps to relieve pain. This is formulated by a veterinarian and is an all-natural supplement that does not require a vet’s prescription.
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We recommend this product for dogs suffering from nonspecific itching and excessive shedding. Dogs with this problem also tend to have dull and thin coat and likely have an unpleasant smell. You will not immediately see results with this Vet’s Best formula. Vet's Best itch relief supplement for dogs works from the inside and it takes time to catch up, so give it at least for 3-4 weeks. You will first notice your dog scratching less and less, and then shedding will be more normal. Before you know it, you’d have a dog with beautiful fur. The smell would be gone, too.
When topical remedies fail, this will be a good option. Unlike topical solutions, though, the desired results will not be noticeable in minutes or hours; it would be more like weeks or months. This will work if your dog is not averse to pills because it has a medicinal smell that makes it difficult to hide in food or give as a treat.