Skin Allergies in Dogs: Home Remedies to Try Before Seeing Your Vet

Updated on March 1, 2017
Dog Skin Allergies
Dog Skin Allergies

Dog skin allergies are tough to figure out. I've tried eliminating potential food ingredients and haven't found the exact combination. It's also really hard to figure out what external allergies might be affecting your pup. If you've already been to your vet, you know the drill. They want you to try antibiotics, special foods, and maybe even some kind of harsh and expensive steroid treatment. With my pug, her symptoms are itchy armpits. They have become increasingly hairless, stinky, sweaty, and dark over the years. I've had numerous vets try to figure out what it is with no luck at all. That's why I've turned to some natural and home remedies.

Here are a few things to try if your dog has hot spots, itchy skin, yeasty ears, goopy eyes, or any other skin condition that seems like it might be triggered by an allergy.

5 Tips and Remedies for Dog Skin Allergies

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Put it in a spray bottle, dilute with water, and spray on the itchy spots a couple of times a day. Before bedtime works great for my dog, but she makes the bedroom smell like chips. I also wipe her ears down with it after cleaning them.

There are also capsules of apple cider vinegar power that you can find in the vitamin/natural supplements section at Whole Foods. I break them open and put them in her food sometimes when the allergies are really crazy.

2. A Simple Healthy Diet

Ditch the gross, generic dog food and get one of the high quality brands that don't have any grain, corn, by-products, or other fillers.

I switched my dog to a food made by "The Honest Kitchen" and it made a world of difference. I once tried to switch her back to dry dog food, and she immediately got a bunch of new hot spots under her chin. So I fed her food from The Honest Kitchen again, and after a few days, the spots were gone. Another brand we like is Grandma Lucy's.

3. Medicated Bath

If your dog has mild skin problems, an oatmeal bath might do the trick. For my pug, I had to resort to Malaseb shampoo.

I bathe her about once a week. It doesn't help with figuring out the source of the problem, but it does help her skin heal and makes her less itchy between baths. Malaseb also comes in a spray and wipes.

Do not apply it to spots that your dog can lick. I can spray the apple cider vinegar anywhere, but with Malaseb, I only use it on her armpits where she can't reach. I also use the spray sparingly.

Use bleach only when washing dog bedding.
Use bleach only when washing dog bedding.

4. Detergent & Household Products

Your dog might have an allergy to the detergent you use to clean their bed and blankets or even the product you use to clean your carpet. Something like Carpet Fresh, Lysol spray, or any yard sprays for bugs might also be the cause of itching. Wash bedding in just bleach. Don't use soap or fabric softeners.

5. No Treats

If your dog has a food allergy, it's a lot easier to control what they are eating if they are only eating their own dog food. For treats, I give my pug a little piece of her own food, and she's just as happy with it as receiving a mystery dog bone. I also like to give her baby carrots on occasion. If you know there is a healthy food that doesn't bother them, only use that.

My Personal Experience With an Itchy Dog

If you have allergies yourself, you know what it's like to feel as if the itch is starting on the inside of your body and working it's way out to your skin. You also can't help but to madly scratch it. I see the same thing happening with my dog. She'll dart out of her bed in the middle of the night, scratch her dog pits and ears feverishly, and then settle back into bed to start with the obsessive paw licking. She's a pug and pugs like to sleep, so I'm guessing she doesn't choose to have these middle-of-the-night itching, scratching, and licking sessions.

Piglet the pug has been an itchy girl ever since she was a puppy. I haven't found a cure, but I've certainly spent a lot of time and money trying to figure it out and trying to make her more comfortable. I hope my tips and tricks will help your dog, too.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


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    • profile image

      Dr Don Doss 

      5 years ago

      Keep in mind that allergies are usually controllable but not CURABLE. There are environmental allergens (house dust mites, food storage mites, pollens [grasses, trees, weeds]) and food allergens. The first step is a good examination and evaluation by a veterinarian. In terms of people promoting grain-free diets, keep in mind that food allergies usually involve proteins, not as frequently carbohydrates. For a food trial, it's best to have a single protein source and a single carbohydrate source (or a hydrolyzed protein diet) that the dog has NEVER eaten (referred to as a “novel protein” and “novel carbohydrate”). A commercial diet is not the best for a trial. A commercial manufacturer makes all of its foods in a single production facility and doesn't clean out the production line when it changes to a different food. It may have produced a beef-based diet and then changes to a chicken diet but pieces of the beef food can be found in the chicken-based food. NOT GOOD IF YOUR DOG IS ALLERGIC TO BEEF!! Studies have documented this problem in most diets. So use a prescription food for the trial and if it solves the problem, talk to your veterinarian about a similar commercial alternative. If your pet has a flare up, you need to go back to the prescription product. Prescription food manufacturers either have a dedicated production line for a particular diet or do a complete clean out of the production line before switching to another food (that's why they are more expensive). Flavorings or ingredients can also be a problem. Heartgard for prevention of heartworms (a widely used medication), for example, contains beef. So dogs allergic to beef will have problems even when it is only given once per month. Vitamins, supplements, and other flavored drugs and treats can also be a problem.

      Allergy testing is a good consideration for environmental allergens. If allergies are a significant problem, "allergy shots" or hyposensitization can be a good consideration and can often provide significant relief but one again, not a cure. There are no reliable tests for food allergies other than a dietary trial or elimination diet which must be fed for a MINIMUM of 3 months (and if improving, some pets may require up to 4 months on the diet).

      A great way to relieve your pet’s skin irritation from an allergic reaction is to use essential oils. There’s a product out there that I highly recommend. It’s called CalmCoat Topical Spray. It’s an all natural product that will relieve the irritation, promote healing and encourage hair re-growth. It’s an amazing product.

      - Dr. Don Doss

    • Jodi Ralston profile image

      Jodi Ralston 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I was attracted by the pug in your picture. I have a pug cross myself, and I think pugs are such fun dogs. But, back to the point, we actually purchased some apple cider vinegar for another use, and I think I might try it on our dogs.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm so glad I have something to try. My poor dog at the beginning of the warmer weather gets this, but during winter months no problems. I was wondering if the spray stings. She has some raw spot I had been treating with bag balm, seemed to help, at least heal but she liked it and would lick at it unless I seen that she was and tell her to leave it alone. It seems as the summer wears on she gets better??? Confusing and the vet seems uncaring at times, doesn't like it when I tell her stuff I find on the internet. Why aren't they ore open to other ways? I already have some apple cider vinegar, was wondering the amount of water and vinegar, is it about half and half of each?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You’re right, it’s amazing how just changing their food will take away all the allergy symptoms in your dog. I had no idea that the food I was giving my dog was making him sick until someone pointed out the ingredients to me. I felt like such a bad pet Mommy! We switched to Natural Balance potato & duck from their L.I.D. line and he hasn’t had a problem since. Those other foods with bad fillers in them should be taken off the shelves!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you very much as my pug has gone bold underarms and I was really worried,so u have made me feel better and gave me something I can try,thank you very much for your blog it was very helpful to me(house will smell of vinegar but anything for my little pug)xx

    • Nina'sWorld profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this ! Would definitely be of great help should any of my dogs experience it.


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