Got an itchy dog?

By Patricia Stephens

If your pup participates in scratching sessions that rattle your windows - and your nerves - read on.

Our adorable Dachshund, Willie, is the scratcher in our family. We sometimes refer to him as, "The Itchy Weiner." As far as the cause, well, he doesn't have fleas. He isn't an anxious dog. His skin isn't dry. He isn't bored. He isn't allergic to any food or treats we provide. And he's not allergic to other animals; he's lived with both dogs and cats.

That pretty much leaves a fungal skin infection which our veterinarian says is probably Willie's issue. We discussed the various ways dogs get fungal infections and the vet suggested Willie may have inhaled spores found in soil contaminated by bird droppings around our bird feeder. She prescribed pills and a special shampoo with the main ingredients containing two long words and one vowel. The drugs helped Willie's irritated skin but I wanted to find a more natural long-term way to keep him comfortable. A horse-loving friend recommended coconut oil.

Coconut oil? I had thought that was something women used for unruly hair or dry skin. But just minutes after I smeared some on Willie's itchy spots, he stopped scratching. I didn't have to use it again for about a month. Amazing? Not really. Seems coconut oil has anti-fungal properties, plus it soothes dry and itchy skin. The kind of coconut oil I purchased is "cold-pressed" which means it goes on like a thick ointment and turns liquid upon contact with the warmth of an animal's skin.

There's another plus to coconut oil. You can give it to your pet orally as it can also help with digestive problems. Although we've only used coconut oil for his skin, Willie likes to lick my fingers after I rub it on him. If your fur kid's itchiness is getting under your skin, first visit your vet. Ask about coconut oil and if they give the go-ahead, make sure you only buy "100 percent raw organic" coconut oil. There should be no other ingredients listed.

For additional help, you might want to try a Smartphone app I found recently for people with itchy pups. It's called "Itchology" and allows pet parents to chart their dog's "itch score" depending on different days, different weather, pollen levels, shampoos, medications, and other factors. I haven't tried it yet, but the maker of this app says it can help people and their vets quickly figure out and control the reason(s) for itching. (This app is currently only available for iPhones but Android is coming soon.)

As I always say, I am not a vet, nor do I pretend to be one on the Internet. I offer suggestions based on personal experiences. I've had the privilege to share my life with 31 dogs and cats through the years and I've learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't. Hopefully what I share can help someone and their companion animal live a more rewarding life together.


Photo used with permission and is not our Willy.

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