How To Manage Dog Skin Conditions

By: Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte As seen in Dogs Naturally Magazine

Skin is often one of the first places your dog will show signs of chronic disease. So it’s always important to pay attention to your dog’s skin health before problems appear.

Dog skin conditions are an indicator of your dog’s deeper health. Often they are the first sign of immune disease. Early signs of skin conditions can be subtle at first. And, left untreated, they can progress.

Symptoms of Dog Skin Conditions

Clinical symptoms of skin disease include:

  • A dull coat without a healthy shine
  • Flaky skin with a small amount of dandruff
  • A musty odor
  • Hair loss
  • Dry itchy skin

These signs can progress to:

  • Redness
  • Discolored skin
  • Itching
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Yeast infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Hot spots
  • Tumors

Unfortunately, itchy dogs are very common. Chronic skin complaints are one of the most pervasive (and hard to treat) health problems in dogs.

Common Dog Skin Conditions

Although skin conditions in dogs can appear in various forms, the underlying cause is always the same. Chronic ear infections, chewed feet, hot spots and other skin complaints are always the tip of the iceberg. They all stem from a deeper problem with your dog’s immune system, or toxins in his body. Often, it’s both.

Here are some ways skin conditions show up in your dog:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Yeast infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Environmental allergens
  • Atopic dermatitis 
  • Allergic dermatitis 
  • Flea bites or flea allergy 
  • Food allergies and reactions

Even though dog skin conditions may seem superficial, they run much deeper. This means you’ll need to treat the inside of your dog to see changes on his outside.

Here are my top 10 natural steps to reverse your dog’s skin conditions from the inside out …

Home Remedies For Dog Skin Infections

#1 Switch Your Dog To Raw

This is the first step for any health issue. Change your dog from processed pet food to a whole food, raw meat diet. It’s healthier and it eliminates food intolerances from commercial diets. Dogs with severe gut problems may need to have home-cooked food, but it’s rare. You should also add plenty of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, and zucchini to help filter toxins.

Avoid starchy carbohydrates as much as possible … they can aggravate skin conditions. This means no foods ike rice, grains, potatoes, or legumes. And never feed any foods with preservatives, colorings or other chemicals.

#2 Use Herbs To Detoxify Your Dog

This will help clear toxins from his gut, liver, lymphatics and kidneys. Here is the best way to detoxify and support your dog’s gut and immune system:

Buy the following dried organic herbs for your dog:

  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Parsley
  • Burdock
  • Nettle
  • Dandelion

Mix all the herbs together in equal parts in a large jar. Every night, put two tablespoons of the herbs in 1 cup of boiling water, cover the cup and let them steep overnight. Strain the fluid and mix it into your dog’s meals.

RELATED: Learn more about herbs for common dog skin problems …

#3 Detoxify The Liver

Milk thistle is the go-to herb for cleaning out the liver. If you’re using a human product, assume the dose is for a 150 pound person and give your dog an amount based on his body weight. For extra strength, you can add glutathione to the milk thistle (again, adjusting the dose if it’s a human product).

Don’t use milk thistle long-term. It’s best given for only 2 to 4 weeks at a time and then take a break, and repeat every month or two.

#4 Detox The Kidneys

Every month or two, you can make a tea to detox the kidneys following the same directions as above, but using these herbs …

#5 Detoxify The Lymphatic System

Regular exercise is great for this, as is massage and bodywork. You can also make an herbal tea to detoxify and support the lymphatic system with:

  • Plantain
  • Red clover
  • Cleavers
  • Fenugreek

#6 Use Homeopathy

This will address the deep distortions of your dog’s vital force. Homeopathy is the best way to address the deep down causes of dog skin conditions. Working with a homeopath is easy and can be done by phone. You can find a homeopathic vet at theavh.org.

RELATED: Learn more about homeopathy for dogs …

#7 Repair The Gut

Since most of the immune system lives in your dog’s gut, you need to address his gut health. The best way to do this is to feed your dog high-quality probiotics daily for several months. The probiotics will balance the bacteria in the gut and restore the health of the immune system. A high fiber diet will also help provide prebiotics, which are like soil for the probiotics to grow on.

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#8 Support The Immune System

Medicinal mushroom blends do a fantastic job of supporting the immune system. There are several good products for pets.

Make sure the mushrooms are organic and made from whole mushrooms. Many mushroom products are made from mycelium, which is only part of the mushroom. Mycelium is grown on grain which means it’s higher in starch and lower in important beta glucans medicinal properties than whole mushrooms. Follow the instructions on the packaging. You can also use human products and again, adjust the human dose for your dog’s weight

Vitamin C is also very helpful for healthy immune function. But don’t buy ascorbic acid … find a natural form of vitamin C from camu camu or acerola instead.

#9 Avoid Environmental Toxins

While you detoxify your dog, you’ll want to make sure you’re not adding new toxins. If you do, his skin condition will continue. Go through your home and remove as many chemicals and artificial fragrances as you can. These are very toxic to your dog.

#10 Reduce Stress

Last, but not least, reduce any stress in the humans and dogs in the household. Emotional stress is a big trigger for skin conditions. Take time out as a family to relax, meditate and exercise. If there is major stress going on, get help to process and move through it. If your dog has stress, anxiety or trauma, think about training or bodywork. It will all help!

RELATED: Get some easy DIY recipes for dog skin problems …

Just being aware of your dog’s health and body condition and providing ongoing care will prevent any of these issues from becoming bigger problems.