Thursday, July 22, 2010
By Ruthie Bently
I have long been a fan of natural remedies whenever possible, not for only myself but my companion animals as well. I have become even more aware of the chemicals in my environment since I adopted Skye, a seizure dog. There are many factors that might trigger a seizure and as a responsible pet owner, I want to be very careful with anything used in and around my home.
A pet’s itchy skin can be caused by many things: bug bites and stings, fleas, ticks, infection, poison ivy, poison oak, poor nutrition, food allergies, and allergies to elements in the home. Pets can be allergic to air fresheners, carpet and floor cleaners, even the detergent used to clean their bedding. Itchy skin can manifest itself in many ways. Your pet may be constantly rubbing up against furniture inside the house or along fences outside the house. Excessive rolling in the grass may be another indication of itchy skin. Your pet may chew their paws or lick themselves frequently trying to relieve the itch. You may even see red patches of skin.
You can create your own natural remedies for your pet’s itchy skin. I have used oatmeal, plantain and baking soda, and this year I am growing chamomile. You can also use yellow dock, green tea and calendula.
Rinses can be made with plantain, yellow dock, chamomile and green tea. To make a rinse with chamomile or green tea, steep two teabags in two cups hot water and discard the teabags. Let the liquid cool, apply it to your pet and let air dry. To make a yellow dock rinse, add one tablespoon of dried yellow dock to two cups boiling water. Let it cool, discard the herb and apply the liquid. To make a plantain rinse, add two tablespoons dried plantain (or six tablespoons fresh) to two cups boiling water. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. When cool, strain off liquid and apply. The longer you allow plantain to remain on the skin the more beneficial it is.
You can make your own oatmeal bath for your dog at home, which can be used to wash the entire dog, itchy feet or applied to dry skin for relief. For a foot bath, add colloidal oatmeal to a bath with several inches of warm water in it. Let your dog’s feet soak for between 5 to 10 minutes. Remove your dog from the bath and dry their feet. The size of your dog will determine how much colloidal oatmeal you add to a regular bath. Skye weighs 57 pounds and I would use 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to her bath water.
To make your own colloidal oatmeal, use regular oatmeal or quick oats. Grind the oats/oatmeal until it is a fine powder, without bits or pieces. It should have the consistency of powdered sugar. I use a coffee grinder, but a blender or food processor on the high setting works. To test the colloid attributes of your oatmeal, mix a tablespoon of oats in a glass of warm water. If the oats turn the water cloudy and it feels smooth, the consistency is correct. By grinding several cups at a time you’ll have it on hand when you need it; store extra oatmeal in an airtight container in your pantry.
If your pet isn’t itching all over, a thick paste made from either baking soda or colloidal oatmeal and water is good for treating insect stings and bites, as well as poison ivy or poison oak. Apply paste to affected area and leave on for at least 10 minutes for best results. Baking soda can also be used as a soothing bath. For a bath, I would suggest adding a cup of baking soda to the bath water.
Consult your vet if the itching doesn’t go away or gets worse, as it may indicate a more serious condition. Each pet is different and while these natural remedies may not work as quickly as a man-made product, the effects are more beneficial and may be longer lasting for your pet. No one wants to see their pet in discomfort and though they can’t verbally tell us, we know when they are. By having a few simple ingredients in your pantry, you can make your own remedy for your pet’s itchy skin if you can’t get to the vet.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently