Bloomington / Normal, IL

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Top Five Vet-Recommended Steps for Itchy Dogs & Cats


Submitted by Nilla’s Tub, DIY Dogwash & Health Food Store

Here are some of the actions I advise my clients to take when dealing with an itchy pet.

Add omega fatty acids
The skin surface is made of a complex layer of phospholipids that create a membrane helping to keep out environmental allergens and irritants and maintain populations of normal bacteria. Unfortunately, due to stress, illness, allergies, infections, diet, and other contributing factors, the healthy membranes protecting the skin surface (and therefore the deeper layers) may become deficient.

Providing your pet with an omega fatty acid supplement in addition to the natural fatty acids that exist in diets can greatly benefit skin health. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian about the most appropriate supplement for your pet’s needs (fish, flax, coconut, etc.), as it’s essential to have a proper balance of omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.

Use shampoo and conditioner regularly
Some owners only groom their pet when there are obvious skin lesions, a bad smell, or a general unthrifty appearance. Regularly bathing with a pet-appropriate shampoo can be greatly beneficial in keeping up the general health of the skin and coat.

Shampoo helps to lift off layers of dead skin cells to refresh the surface and can remove over-growing bacteria, yeast, and other organisms. Conditioner provides needed moisture and other beneficial substances, including omega fatty acids, naturally anti-inflammatory substances (colloidal oatmeal, aloe, etc.), and even topical medications to promote improved integrity of the skin surface.

Don’t forget brushing or combing

Like bathing, taking a pet-appropriate brush or comb through the coat of your canine or feline companion can provide many health benefits, including removal of skin cells, extraction of loose hair and undercoat, and increased blood circulation.

Not all pets take readily to the brushing or combing process, so make sure to start gently and be consistent. Seek guidance of your veterinarian or professional groomer to determine the best means by which you can help maintain your pet’s coat via brushing or combing.

Provide whole-food and human-grade diets

Pets that consume commercially available processed diets consume ingredients that vastly differ from the format in which nature intended our dogs and cats to eat. Although some kibble and canned diets have ingredients that are more whole-food based, they often also can contain chemical preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, mold-produced toxins, and even ingredients that are carcinogenic.

Whole-food ingredients are often better digested with improved nutrient absorption, as receptors in the digestive tract more closely match the inherent structure of foods in a natural format (as compared to synthetics, like with manufactured vitamins). Additionally, human-grade foods are higher quality and are less likely to contain harmful ingredients than feed-grade ingredients found in most pet foods and treats.

The appearance of a pet’s skin and coat greatly reflects what is going on internally from the perspective of overall health. In my experience, my patients that eat whole-food diets and treats throughout their lives instead of processed foods generally have healthier skin and a more lustrous coat.

Try foods with cooling properties

In Chinese medicine, there are foods having energetic properties that are warming (Yang), cooling (Yin), or neutral. Dogs and cats with diseases where there is excess energy in the body (too much Yang) or deficient cooling energy (Yin) are often prone to skin redness, swelling, itching, flaking, infection, and more. Allergic skin conditions, autoimmune diseases, and cancer fit the bill of excess Yang or deficient Yin.

Feeding meals that are fresh and moist provides much-needed hydration to the body that cool overabundant Yang and promote beneficial blood flow and nutrient delivery. Additionally, choosing foods that have cooling or neutral properties can help to quell some of the heat and energetic excess associated with red, irritated, itchy, and chronically infected skin.

Cooling foods include the following:

  • Proteins — turkey, duck, rabbit, fish (salmon, tuna, other), egg white, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.
  • Vegetables and fruit — spinach, kale, parsley, broccoli, mushroom, green peas, cucumber, apple, banana, melon, watermelon, cantaloupe, blackberry, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, pear, etc.
  • Grains — brown rice, barley, whole wheat, quinoa, etc.

This article was written by Dr. Patrick Mahaney VMD, CVA, CVJ, and is reprinted with permission from The Honest Kitchen Blog. Honest Kitchen makes pet food that’s all natural, made in the USA, 100 percent human grade, super healthy, minimally processed, with no GMO ingredients and nothing from China. It’s people food, made especially for pets. More information about their products can be found online at

Nilla’s Tub DIY Dog Wash and Health Food Store for Dogs & Cats, located at 211 Landmark Dr. in Normal carries a full line of products from Honest Kitchen. In addition to their large selection of dietary supplements, treats, and quality food including raw, dehydrated raw, canned, and kibble, they have everything you need to bathe and groom your furry friend in a fun, relaxing environment. No appointment necessary, call 309-451-9274 or visit them online at