Dog Skin Problems – 10 Remedies To Help Alleviate An Itchy Dog

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Are you dealing with dog skin problems? Our poor Stetson is…:(

Stetson was career changed 2 months after he started his formal guide dog training for being a bit of a softy (I’m not really sure what that means). We love our soft boy 🙂

We were happy to adopt Stetson, but shortly after bringing him back home, he started to have some skin problems.

At the time our veterinarian told us that it was dog skin allergies and he wasn’t sure exactly what was causing them.

Stetson was given some Prednisone (steroids) and that seemed to clear up his skin for a little while.

Year after year Stetson has had these same skin allergies.

The good news is depending on the season the allergies seem to go from better to worse to better again.

We’ve tried our share of allergy remedies and some have proven very effective while others have not.

After another expensive visit to the vet, we decided to push forward with a full-on dog skin allergy assault by combining all the different remedies recommended by our vet and religiously following them for the course of at least 3 months.

What Are Stetson’s Dog Allergy Symptoms?

As I mentioned earlier the severity of Stetson’s dog skin allergies varies depending on the season, but pretty much year-round you’ll find Stetson chewing on his paws.

During certain parts of the year, Stetson will also get little scabs on his chest and belly.

We’ll also sometimes notice flakey dry skin on his back and across most of the rest of his body.

As you can see in the picture below Stetson’s back paw is red (maybe more pinkish) and irritated (it sometimes looks a little bit scabby too)

Dog Skin Problems Pictures of Paws
Sorry Stetson…not your most glamorous shot…

Dog Allergy Symptoms

A recap of Stetson’s allergy symptoms:

  • Chews on his paws and his paws are sometimes scabby. He would lick and lick and lick his paws so much that it sometimes looked like he had a potty accident on the bed because of the large water stain (it was just a lick stain).
  • Scabs on his belly and chest area.
  • On Stetson’s back and other parts of his body flakey and dried-out skin.
  • Also, I’ve heard that Stetson’s ear infections may also be a result of his doggy allergies.

Our veterinarian said that some people like to keep an itch schedule/calendar/chart to track how itchy their dog is on any given day.

The point is to show if certain seasons or types of weather are causing your dog’s allergies.

This last week’s vet bill was the final strike! (plus we don’t like seeing Stetson itching all the time).

Here’s a list of remedies we plan on trying all at once to finally alleviate Stetson of his dog skin problems.

UPDATE: Looking back trying all at once was probably not the best idea. Have you ever heard of an A/B test, Colby?

10 Remedies For Treating Dog Skin Problems

Disclaimer: Guys, I am not your veterinarian these are remedies we’ve either tried or plan on trying with Stetson and are listed here for entertainment purposes only. If you have any medical questions please consult your veterinarian. 

Before Stetson's Dog Skin Allergy Symptoms
Before Stetson’s Dog Skin Allergy Symptoms

Okay, so we won’t be implementing all 10 of these remedies all at once because the first 2 are medications we’ve already tried and had success with Stetson and his dreadful allergy problems.

However, my issue with the first 2 remedies is the side effects (especially long-term) on your dog.

#1 Steroids (Prednisone)

The first time we noticed Stetson was having skin allergy problems the vet prescribed Prednisone which is a steroid.

I know what you’re thinking…steroids!? Did he start lifting weights, get humongous, does he get angry easily?


And he’s not trying out for doggy Olympics either (he’d probably get banned for using steroids).

The steroids worked great and cleared up his scabby, flakey skin.

However, one side effect was Stetson was drinking lots of water and peeing a lot.

He actually stayed with my brother for a few nights while I was on vacation and had an accident in the house 🙁

The vet told us that extended use could lead to liver and kidney damage.

Our vet also said that because the steroid suppresses the immune system Stetson would be more susceptible to getting sick.

Overall this was not a long-term solution.

#2 Atopica

A couple of years ago we tried Atopica with Stetson.

This prescription medication also worked and after about a month Stetson had a nice shiny coat again!

However, there were some definite drawbacks to using Atopica.

  1. Cost – it cost close to $300 a month to use Atopica. The price comes down a little as you adjust the dosage, but I think I estimated it would cost me nearly $200 a month to keep Stetson on Atopica. I have recently seen that they carry Atopica at Costco, but I haven’t looked at the pricing.
  2. Side Effects – I’m not too sure what all the side effects are with Atopica, but Stetson was Nauseous for a couple of hours every day he took the meds. He would vomit about every other time I gave him the capsule. Our vet said if we try it again to freeze the pills to help with nausea.
  3. Suppressed Immune System – Atopica like steroids suppresses the immune system which makes Stetson more susceptible to illness.
  4. Long-term side effects – Our vet again warned us against possible liver and kidney problems down the line. Although he did say this medication is much milder than the steroids.

Atopica really seems to help with dog skin problems, but the side effect plus cost really made me re-think our long-term solution for Stetson’s allergies.

We, therefore, asked the vet for some other remedies that might help Stetson and his skin allergies.

The rest of this list consists of the things we plan on doing for the next 3 months to help alleviate Stetson’s allergies.

#3 Weekly bathing

I had always heard that you shouldn’t bathe your dog more than once a month because it can be bad for your dog’s skin.

Apparently, dogs don’t produce natural oils like humans.

However, my vet recommended weekly bathing and assured me that it would be okay for Stetson’s skin as long as I used a good dog shampoo (never use a human shampoo).

Another idea we had is to use a more mild puppy shampoo for Stetson so we tried using Burt’s Bees Puppy Shampoo.

I can’t say whether using puppy shampoo helped or hurt based on personal observation.

#4 Baby wipe feet

Stetson Sans Dog Skin Problems :) Black Lab Stetson and Golden Puppy Charlie hanging out together.
Stetson Sans Dog Skin Problems 🙂

Every time we go out on a walk Stetson’s paws gets exposed to all different kinds of possible allergens in the environment.

Stetson’s paws are one of his big problems.  When his allergies are flaring he chews on his paws regularly.

In fact, he licks them so much that not only does the fur fall off, but when he stayed with a friend they thought he had a potty accident on the bed (he was actually just licking his paws and made a nice round wet mark on their comforter).

We bought some baby wipes from Costco and plan on wiping down his paws every time he comes in the house.

This is probably good dog hygiene too.

UPDATE: We found wipes made for puppies called Earth Rated Dog Wipes that we are going to try with the dogs. However, I’m sure regular baby wipes work just as well at a lower price.

#5 Flea meds

One of the possible skin allergy culprits are fleas!

In the past we’ve used topical solutions like Advantage II and Frontline Plus.

UPDATE: Frontline stopped working for a little while. I talked to the vet and he said fleas can sometimes become immune to one of the topical products. We moved to Advantage II and all was peachy. Now we’re back using Frontline Plus which works great and covers us for both fleas and ticks.

However, we only used it seasonally.

Our vet recommended that we apply flea meds to Stetson religiously once a month to keep the fleas away.

My mom’s cat has severe flea allergies so this could solve our problems.

#6 Grain-free food

Our vet said we could try switching dog foods and try a novel grain-free food.

We’ve been thinking about changing dogs’ foods for a while so there’s no better time than now to make the switch.

We’re looking to change our dogs over to Wellness Core Grain Free.

Have you guys tried a good grain-free food that helps with dog skin allergies?

If so, let me know what you’re feeding your pups in the comment section below.

#7 Fish oil

Derby our second guide dog puppy in training was having some skin problems.

I’m not sure if it was allergies or just dry skin.

The GDA vet gave us a bottle full of fish oil capsules to help his skin issues.

However, our current vet had never offered this as a solution to Stetson’s allergies.

I asked our vet if this would help and he said that it could and told me to try giving Stetson one fish oil capsule a day.

Fish oil is probably something I (the human) should be taking as well for my own general health.

Fish oil is another item you can buy from Costco in bulk…maybe Stetson and I will share a bottle 🙂

#8 Benadryl

One of our friends who is a vet tech recommended trying Benadryl for Stetson’s allergies.

Our vet also recommended 75 mg of Benadryl twice a day. Consult your vet before administering over-the-counter drugs.

He said the side effects are Stetson might be a little more lethargic than normal, but it could help.

He said that it helps about 1 out of 4 dogs with their allergies so if it works consider myself lucky.

#9 Clean House

Our vet said to also try and keep the house as clean as possible.

This makes it less likely that Stetson will pick up an allergen inside the house.

Even an air filter could help his allergies.

I’m not the tidiest of people so I’m going to schedule daily cleanup to try and help Stetson and his allergies.

#10 Vinegar And Water

This is a home remedy that my Aunt told me to try that she said successfully worked with her Great Pyrenees and Italian Greyhounds.

Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and fresh water into a plastic spray bottle.

Spray on your dog daily to help with your dog’s itching.

I’m not too sure where she got this information from because she’s not in the veterinarian field so it’s probably something she either heard from her vet or from a friend/family member.

So please tread with caution if you try this solution.

I will probably give it a try as a last resort.

Stetson's Dog Skin Problems All Clear! Just A LIttle Grey Under The Chin Now.
Stetson’s Dog Skin Problems All Clear! Just A LIttle Grey Under The Chin Now.

Check with your vet before trying any of these dog skin allergy remedies.

I got the majority of this information after a lengthy discussion with my vet to see what I could do to help alleviate Stetson of his dog skin problems.

Dog skin problems have been the bane of Stetson’s existence since he came home from Guide Dog College.

I’m hoping these remedies will make him feel a little less itchy.

If not, our next option is allergy testing.

How about you?

Do you have an itchy dog with skin problems?

Do you have any good home remedies or advice that works for you and your dog?

UPDATE: Good news guys and gals! Way back we were told that the dog skin problems we were encountering were either Stetson’s diet or environment.

We bounced Stetson’s food around quite a bit trying several novel proteins, dehydrated, and grain-free dog foods including:

While we thought we saw some improvements the biggest changes came when we moved from our condo in Irvine to our house in Orange.

Our best guess is Stetson’s sensitive skin was probably not agreeing with pesticides or whatever our association was using on our community lawn and landscape.

Today Stetson’s skin allergies are totally under control.

No more dog skin problems and no need for the latest remedies…phew…

Related Article:

UPDATE: We were recently sent a new product that we’re hoping will help with doggy allergies. Native Pet sent us Native Pet Allergy Chews. We’re going to test them out and report back to you.

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    1. What kind..i have a 12 week old pit who was on blue Buffalo puppy food and now hes itching with spots and sucks..i thought that Was supposed to be good food..thank you!

  1. Organic coconut oil refined seems to work very well the fish oil good idea it doesn’t really work

  2. We have 2 issues. One dog constantly licks the wood floors. She has been tested and has no illness. Whst can we do to stop this. Also is there any allergy meds that do not cause dead spots on the grass. We have one dog that is ruining the lawn and we are constantly trying to fix it

  3. My Yorkiepoo is only 8 pounds and has skin issues ever since we moved to Florida 5yrs ago.
    We have tried many different medications to no avail. During these 5yrs we have lived in homes with rugs and ones without and have vacuumed and mopped both floors endlessly hoping that this would make a difference but it never did. What has made a difference for her has been putting her in an infant onesie. I have the kind that has snaps in the front, only I put it on her backward and snap it up in the back so that her tail will stick out. As soon as I take it off her she goes back to scratching. I guess her condition my be environmental. Her worst times are in the morning and 4pm till 9:30pm. She still licks or sometimes bites her paws but if I catch her and tell her to stop she does. I don’t like to cover her paws because she could get hurt walking or jumping around. I hope maybe this will help someone with a small dog. I discovered this method by accident and it maybe worth a try.

  4. My cocker is almost 11 years old. He has always had skin issues and I went through the exact veterinary steps as you. He was eating Innova dog food until there were issues with contamination. I switched Chips to Blue Buffalo Freedom for seniors and his skin issues are completely gone. Freedom is grain-free. Give it a try.

    1. I have a pit bull who right now has bad allergies vet gave antibiotics ear drops an eye drop but still rash itchy I changed his food to crave an the refrigerator chicken gonna see how that is.

  5. Has any one tried making bone broth from home. I have 2 furr baby with sevier allergies and one furr baby that was diagnosed with auto immune hemaoglobin animia I read about it on line and the health benefits are amazing I started making it for all five of my furr kids and has really helped I also is weekly vinager baths to kill an repel flees an tick and raw ground pumpkin seeds for international perisits and have had no problem with unwanted pests one I have 2 pitts a walker hound a German shepherd and a 7 pound eat terier mix and the vinegar bath dose not hurt my Pitt bulls I also use vitamin e oil capcules and vitamin c pills because 2 off my baby’s are allergic to fish

  6. I feel your pain! Our Bella has allergies to everything. Her perfect food would be pork and oatmeal but I can’t find anyone who makes that type of kibble. And since she is also allergic to grass, ants, bees and wasps, cats and sheep and more it sees useless to make her food. We tried imunotherapy (allergy shots) without great success. We’ve settled on many of the same strategies you mention in your article. Steroids have been wonderful! The benefits outweigh the drawbacks for us. Though she’s only 8 years old between the allergies and steroids she is closer to 10 years old in her physical appearance and ability. Though its aged her she’s been more comfortable since we’ve started steroids (aprox. 5 years ago).

    1. Yes, I could see the benefits of steroids outweighing the drawbacks. It did wonders for Stetson for a short period. We’re lucky Stetson hasn’t had many issues with allergies over the past few years. Hopefully Bella is doing well with her allergies and treatments.

  7. We went thru much distress last summer with our Catahoula. She got a severe, severe allergy to grass. Her paws were red and raw. The vet tried everything. We ended with 1.5 pills of Claritin twice a day, wipe her paws when she came in, & this expensive antibiotic on her paws every night (which we had to cover with booties for 30mins so she couldn’t eat). We also changed to a grain free diet. We were barely holding even. Next step was a new dog allergy medicine that was newly out of testing. While googling I came across the red cider vinegar option and thought what the heck, why not. It was amazing with in 3 days all the redness was gone. We were able to quit the expensive antibiotic. Using Claritin, vinegar spray, & wipes, we finished the summer. We prayed it was a one year blimp – no such luck. This summer started and it all began again. This year at her yearly checkup, we got one of the senior (original) vets in the practice. I told him about the red cider vinegar. His response was he knows it does help many dogs and, just as important, won’t hurt them. He couldn’t give me a good reason why it works, but told me if it does help my girl (& it does) keep using it. He would rather not keep her on constant prescription topologic antibiotic or the new medicine, if he didn’t have to. Hope this helps someone.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. When Stetson had his red, sore paws I would have tried anything as well. I will definitely keep this in mind for the future and I’m sure it will help someone searching the internet.

  8. My pit bull is ALWAYS itching all over his body. He gets red sores on his belly and his chin/nose area seem to bother him as well. He always rubs his nose on the carpet – I assume to itch it. Lately he hasn’t been eating either resulting in a 7 lb weight loss in 3 weeks. He seems to have a hard time having bowel movement too. $750 later in vet bills and xrays revealed nothing. Do you have any suggestions for me? He’s 9 years old and up until a month of two ago was a healthy guy. Now he’s just withering away and itching all the time. HELP! I am not ready to lose my best friend. I’m already crying writing this. Any suggestions would help. He used to eat a lot of table scraps and now that I try not to give him those, he flat refuses to eat his dog food. So I end up giving him our food again and I know this is the worst thing – but his bones are sticking out and I want him to gain weight. Thank you!

    1. One thing we did with Stetson is got the advice of more than one veterinarian. In fact we visited 3 different veterinarians who all had different ways for treating him. In the end the thing that worked best for Stetson was a change in environment (we moved from our condo to a house). Perhaps something changed in your environment that is causing these issues?

    2. I feel for you..these vets make me want to puke, ive been to 3 supposedly the best in our two horse town and I believe their clueless and over a thousand later and hours on the internet I’ve decided to change diet #1 what I read high protein no grain dry foods..I’ve found a no grain food she doesn’t like it because it doesn’t have cheese. but guess what cheese is high protein and she gets cheese chunks for snacks, she is getting fresh foods eggs are really high in protein along with barely cooked ground turkey with barley or sweet potatos.and sardines (bad for gas violent) but she likes it and its full of omega 3 fatty acid…she has huge sores from some thing in the environment..lately although she gets sores not as many and they heal quicker…flea control is a must I use trifexis again now, she was off of it for about a year and all this stuff started with the cheap stuff, I believe parasites are a big problem with older dogs, as well as dry she gets omega 3 fish oil once a day for dry skin, and benadryl (50mg) twice a day for itching, and now if read older dogs need vitamin c so some of that too, along with more often baths every 3-5 days I use antibacterial NON scented or head and shoulders instead of all thet $30.00 stuff the vet sells, there are a lot of choices out there the stuff used to scent is very allergic causing..she is pretty much itch free..i think it takes both diet and the OTC medicines, and baths…there is plenty of foods that are good for them and they will like it..just spend time searching the internet and people will help you through their experiences…VETS are about the money..i was spending $90.00 a month on apaoquil and to find out its very bad for them..I now read cider vinegar baths are good too, along with Epsom salt baths…get the boy some food there are plenty of variations for him that will work…, mines about gone at almost 14 years old, and I won’t have another..her boyfriend was put to sleep last year at 14-1/2 years old lived together their whole lives and he never had any health thinking parasites and bad food in my of luck to you, and sorry I rambled one so much Dan

    3. Hi! i have two yorkies both with seasonal allergies, im about to try probiotics to see if it helps, i was reading about it and they recommend it specially for dogs with bowel movement problems and also allergies, you can try or another cheaper brand in amazon. I haven’t tried yet so i can’t vouche for it. But you probably try it. Good luck!

  9. hi guys!
    my girl bella has an awful skin allergy. she will chew the hair off her back in straight lines on either side of her spine up to a point I don’t even know how she reaches that high up her back! she’s always itching and biting at herself. she chews herself raw on basically anywhere she can reach! we have tried everything but the only thing that seems to help is steroids with an antibiotic. this concerns me just because I don’t think its very good (for people as well) to be on a steroid your whole life. this thread is great and im hoping some of these will help bella!

    1. Hopefully you can figure out something other then steroids that will help your Bella with her itchy skin. Thanks for stopping by.

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