Neem Oil for Dogs - stops itching, heals skin, and repels fleas and mosquitos
What is neem oil?
The Neem Tree is a tropical tree that came originally from India. The Indian people have used various parts of this tree for 1000s of years, and they use the leaves, bark and seeds for a wide range of ailments. Neem oil is produced from the seed kernels of the Neem tree; the kernels are crushed and pressed (in a similar way to olives) and the extracted oil is purified.
Natural, raw neem oil has a strong smell. It is quite unique and smells to me like burnt garlic with a hint of coffee and onion.
Neem Oil for Dogs
For dogs who have itchy skin due to food allergies, insect bites, mild mange or really dry patches, neem oil works wonders. It is also good for hot feet and chaffed 'underarms'. The oil has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antiseptic and anti inflammatory qualities and is widely used on humans and animals by those who prefer to use Ayurvedic treatments. It is used as an insect repellent and a natural pesticide on plants.
To treat dogs with irritated skin and hair loss, neem oil should be diluted in another carrier oil, such as pure coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil or grape seed oil. Raw neem oil is very potent stuff, so dilute a few drops with a tablespoon of carrier oil to begin with. For very severe cases, try it a bit stronger, but watch carefully for any reactions. My dog is fine with 50/50 mix but I began with a more diluted mix at the start and built it up over time. Neem and coconut oils, if pure, will harden in cooler temperatures, so you may need to warm the oils a little to get a good mixture. You can do this by leaving the containers in a jug of warm water, on a warm windowsill or by just holding it your warm hands, but do not microwave it. Don't mix too much up in advance and using small glass jars, like the smallest Masons jars are the best. Once you have a good blend, massage the oil into the dog's skin with your finger tips. It has a soothing effect which most animals enjoy, and it stops them itching very quickly. Apply the oil twice a day at first, then once a day when you see the healing has begun. Animals should not digest neem oil; it has a very bitter taste and most animals will not lick it naturally, but monitor your pet just in case.
This oil works within a few days usually. The skin starts to look less raw and sore, and hair regrowth seems to follow in about a week.
My dog has food allergies and so we feed her home-cooked meals and treats which stops her from getting sore patches on her skin. Unfortunately, she spends all her time trying to steal the very food she is allergic to - which is bread, biscuits, cake etc. This means that from time to time she manages to get a bellyful when we have not paid full attention! After about 48 hours, the scratching starts, the fur comes out and she gets utterly miserable. Massaging the Neem oil into the sore patches stops this quickly, she quite likes the oil being applied and she won't lick it. Her skin looks healthier from day 2 and the hair regrowth happens quicker. It took me a bit of time to discover this remedy, but I am please with the way it helps my dog.
Mix Neem Oil with Olive Oil Before Use
Make your Own Neem Shampoo for Dogs
To keep insects at bay, and to keep treating mild itching skin, make your own neem oil shampoo. Simply add a teaspoon of oil to roughly 2 tablespoons of regular dog shampoo - preferably an oat shampoo as these are gentle on dogs. Don't mix this up to long in advance as raw neem oil will start to break down in shampoo. Use in the usual way, but try and leave it on 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing off if your pet will allow it. My tip for leaving the shampoo on for a bit is to turn the water off and give your dog a sort of massage with the shampoo. Quietly working up and down your pet's body soothes them enough for a while.
Neem Spray for Dogs
To make a handy spray, you mix 10 parts water with 1 part neem oil and a few drops of detergent (to make oil and water mix). Only make up one day's worth at a time because the neem breaks down in this mixture. Shake well - the solution will probably need to warm up to pass through the spray nozzle smoothly as it hardens when cool. Use this to apply oil quickly to your dog. In my experience, dogs don't really like to be sprayed so this may not work well.
Tips and warnings
Neem oil should be kept out of the reach of children and babies. Pregnant, trying to conceive or breast feeding woman should not use the oil at all. It should not be consumed by animals or humans - neem leaves may be consumed but this is different part of the tree altogether.
Neem oil is used successfully on horses, cattle and cats as well.
Some of the oil will rub off your dog soon after it is applied and before it has sunken in. It will wash off many things , but don't let your dog jump on the sofa, your bed or any nice clothing after applying the neem oil to stop items getting stained.
It does really smell! Some people seem more sensitive than others. If you want, you can add lavender oil or eucalyptus oil to try and mask the smell.
There are pre-mixed treatments available to buy, like neem soap, neem shampoo and neem ointment. Check the other ingredients used because some may irritate your pet's skin more. To make your own treatments, purchase a cold-pressed (no heat applied) organic raw neem oil. It is inexpensive. If it is pure it will harden a little in the cold, so may appear lumpy. This is normal and applying a gentle heat will loosen the consistency.