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Alternative Treatments for Itchy Pets

You want to relieve your pet’s itch and discomfort. But anti-itch medications can come with potential side effects. Are there other, more natural remedies?

In WebMD’s Pet Health Community, M. Duffy Jones, DVM, gives you the facts on alternative itch treatments for pets, and assesses how well they work.

Shampoos are an easy and effective option, Jones says. But there are different pet shampoos available for specific skin conditions, like bacterial or yeast infections. So get your vet’s recommendation on a shampoo that can help clear up the cause of your pet's itching without drying out the skin too much.

Fish oil supplements are another option to help replenish the skin’s natural oils and combat inflammation. They have few side effects, although they can cause upset stomach in some pets.

Just as with people, probiotics can help boost an animal’s digestive health. Jones says that he’s found them to be helpful for itch control. In addition to probiotics -- for a pet with a longstanding case of skin inflammation -- specific vitamin supplements could also help replenish the body’s ability to fight skin infection. But again, ask your vet which vitamins he or she would recommend. There are many good alternative product brands, Jones tells one pet owner. But the brand name is less important than making sure that the supplement or oil is made for pets, not humans. So don’t just slip your own probiotics or vitamins into your pet's food.

Another pet owner in the Community found that her allergy-prone dogs tend to suffer fewer symptoms when eating wet food rather than dry. She also recommends:

  • having pets tested for allergies to the products being used
  • keeping pets' ears clean
  • using soap-free cleansers when bathing

Have you ever tried any alternative methods to treat your pet's itchy skin? What have you tried and what did you find helpful?

Discussion led by M. Duffy Jones, DVM Guest Expert
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