Dr. Jeff Feinman’s Reply To Holistic Vet Questions About Pet Allergies and Itchy Pets
Client and reader questions about my treatment of itchy pets:
Do you treat hotspots with homeopathy, or do you treat the whole dog’s constitution and use that remedy to strengthen their immunity instead.
What’s the best thing u can use for allergies? After a raw diet of course.
My dog Molly has allergys every year at this time. She scratches all the time. My vet gives her medication, I think it is predizone, and we are really not sure if it works all that great. Is there anything we can give her? ~
My standard poodle is itching and scratching I’ve looked for fleas – didn’t see any After a month I put Frontline on in case there were fleas. I didn’t want to use chemicals (Frontline) but she is scratching so much Is there any homeopathy remedy that you could recommend?
Since you are all asking about itchy dogs I would have similar advice for you all.
Thanks for your questions. Itching pets is a huge (and growing) problem. My own rescue Standard Poodle is also quite itchy and has gotten red and inflamed (“infected”) skin areas. She appears to have fleas at times especially when she suddenly attacks herself (usually with her front teeth as if eating corn off the cob called “corn cob chewing”).
Although I hate fleas as much as the next guy, they do get a bum rap at times. Many itchy dogs look like they have fleas. Pet owners and vets keep looking for them, but often none can be found. Your dog’s history and any direct or indirect evidence of fleas will help guide proper treatment. Personally, I’d never use potentially harmful insecticides on my dog’s skin.
Many itchy pets are actually itching due to allergies. Foods, pollens, environmental toxins, etc. are all allergic triggers. I suggest removing all corn, wheat, barley, rye, soy, eggs, lactose and sugar from the diet of allergic patients. Some of these patients even stop itching altogether on the right diet. I suggest fresh food (ideally raw) feeding and constitutional homeopathy.
The homeopathic remedies that will help the most are chosen by individualizing each itchy pet. For example, although the homeopathic remedy Sulphur is sometimes known as the itchy pet remedy, it will only help those patients whose “symptom picture” corresponds with that of Sulphur. The Sulphur (or any remedy) is recognized by the symptoms that it elicits both in provings and in clinical cases. The itchy Sulphur patient often overheats easily and is thirsty, can have diarrhea first thing in the morning has an unkempt coat, brown ear and grey mucus eye discharges and red eyes.
There are also a few supplements that can be very useful. These include Antiox (grape seed extract) which both helps normalize the immune system as well as acting as a natural antihistamine, a good probiotic like RxBiotic from Rx Vitamins, fatty acids such as those in UltraOil, vitamins C and E, among others can be very helpful. Try to start with one new supplement at a time if you are going to use any. Doing so both reduces the chance of an aggravation of the itch as well as helping pinpoint what works best. This is especially true if your dog is also starting to get treated with homeopathy.
If your dog itches most during bad allergy days such as when when the pollen count is high she may have an inhalant allergy also known as atopy. Because the immune system of many dogs has become hypersensitive, sometimes even common foods like chicken, meat, eggs and dairy can be a big trigger. The home salivary food allergy test NutraScan from Dr. Jean Dodds can help you identify food triggers with a simple in home saliva test.
In some areas (warm and humid regions) fleas are among the most common cause for itching in dogs. It only takes one flea bite to start a major reaction if your dog has a common flea saliva allergy. Not seeing fleas does not mean that they aren’t there. These little critters are fast and wily.
All of the harsh chemicals in the world may not prevent fleas from biting your dog and I don’t advise using any. Better to use gentle alternatives like baths, topical essential oils, frequent visual inspection, etc. Flea combs are great for short coated dogs but unfortunately aren’t very useful in Poodles. The most overlooked part of flea treatment is environmental control since most of the flea life cycle occurs off of the pet. This is best accomplished by frequent vacuuming and washing of your dog’s bedding.
Another big cause for itching in dogs is dry skin. Often this is a dietary problem that can corrected with a species-appropriate diet. Sometimes topical moisturizing sprays can also relieve the itch as can fatty acids + zinc.
Sarcoptic mange is a less common cause of itching. These are among the itchiest pets. Because this parasitic dis-ease is transmissible to people, I recommend multiple site skin scrapings done by your vet. Especially if yore dog is very itchy, or if there is a rash, lots of crusting, and especially if other pets and/or people are itching or have rash.
Demodectic mange is another, less common, skin parasite that can cause itching. It is typically associated with a weak immune system and can be secondary to other metabolic disorders. Like “allergies” and other forms of immune dysfunction it is best treated by upgrading the diet and constitutional homeopathy.
Personally, I’d start treating your dog by feeding a raw, meat-based diet (I feed my itchy SP girl a varied Vital Essentials frozen meat diet + other meats). The prey model diet works especially well in my experience. If this alone doesn’t do the trick, then you certainly can try different shampoos, supplements and homeopathic treatment guided by a trained veterinary homeopath.
Good luck. Please let us know what you end up doing and how much it helps.