It’s Fall! Here Comes the Itching and Scratching Again

Puppy Scratching fleas

This Summer has been hot, so hot in fact, it’s been the hottest Summer ever recorded. As the humidity of Summer fades away, we’ll start to see the typical dry air, and even drier Santa Ana winds blowing through, which will try and suck every bit of moisture from your dog’s skin.  If you don’t stay proactive in maintaining their skin and coat, get ready for constant itching and scratching for the next few months. Not to mention, allergies for dogs and humans also tend to spike during the change of seasons, which means keeping them comfortable and itch free can often be a challenge. Fear not, there are steps you can take to control and even eliminate the problem.

To attack skin issues, you’ll want to hit it with a double whammy, to do this, you’ll need to tackle this from both inside and out.

Internal

There are 100’s of products on the market that claim they’re the best for skin and coat issues, how do you sift through all of these to find the best ones for your dog? After working in the pet health industry for many years, I have seen a fair amount of products claiming they work, but fail miserably. After getting feedback from my customers, reading reviews, as well as testing the products on my own dogs, I know the following list of products work for most dogs out there.  You might have to experiment with a few of the products to find the right combination for your specific dog, but I have found these products work in the majority of situations. Just remember, the key to all of these products is consistency.  If you only use them every now and then, you will very rarely get the results you want.

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Missing Link

Out of all the product for skin and coat health that I’ve used and recommended to friends and family, Missing Link stands out at the clear winner for quick results and noticeably better skin and coat.  This product had the right balance of Omega-3s and 6s and has ingredients you can actually pronounce and recognize.  This product is a powder that you sprinkle on top of your dogs food daily, and if you’re consistent, you should see results after about a month of use.  It comes in a beef flavor or, for dogs with a lot of food allergies, you can get the vegetarian version as well.  Once you open Missing Link, you’ll need to store it in the fridge to make sure it stays as fresh as possible for you dog, but other than that, it’s really simple to use and most dogs have no issue with the flavor.

Salmon Oil

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Salmon Oil is kind of a miracle supplement that not only improves skin and coat, but has a crap load of other benefits as well.  Here are a few of them:

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The key with salmon oil, again, is consistency.  This product is great, and works from the inside out. It starts helping joints and internal organs first, and eventually works its way to the skin and coat.  So once you start seeing your dogs coat getting shinny, you know they are receiving the full benefit of the oil. This process can take up to 4 months so this is not a short term fix, but if you are consistently pumping this onto their food every day, you will have a much healthier and happier dog.  Warning: This is salmon oil, if you dog likes to give out kisses, make sure you do everything in your power to avoid them licking your face for about an hour after they eat.  Trust me, I speak from plenty of experience, it’s not pleasant . Also, if your dog doesn’t do well with the flavor of salmon oil, you can try pollock or the new krill oil instead, all three are great for skin and coat.

Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

If you’re looking for something to use that you might already have in your Kitchen, try either olive oil or coconut oil.  Both can help bring your dog’s coat back to its former glory without having to go to the store.

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For olive oil, make sure you purchase extra virgin, and start with 1/4 tsp. twice a day for a 30lb. dog.  You can gradually increase it to 1/2 tsp. twice a day if needed, but notice, I underlined the word gradually. If you give too large of a dose right away, expect to have some loose stool and some messy clean up for a day or two. #explosivediarrhea

coconut

Coconut oil works very similar to olive oil.  The recommended dosage for this is 1/4 tsp. for every 10lbs. of body weight per day.  Try and find virgin and cold pressed if possible. Coconut oil also has a bunch of other benefits that go far beyond skin and coat, for an entire article on these benefits CLICK HERE. A quick warning, similar to the olive oil, this can have some nasty (and smelly) side effects, if you start out with too large of a dose, expect problems.  #coconutrevenge

External

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Shampoo

Keeping your dogs skin clear of allergens, dandruff, and other particles that can irritate and inflame the skin is the best way to keep them itch free.  There are many shampoos on the market that are meant to help keep your dog’s skin clean and allergen free.  If you dog has a mild case of itching and scratching, often a oatmeal shampoo is all you need to help clean out the pores and prevent the skin from getting irritated.

The one I’ve found that works well in most cases is from Earthbath.  It’s made of natural ingredients and contains micronized oatmeal to clean out the pores.  If you dog is itching, use this every other week to give them some relief.  With most shampoos, using them more than twice a month will start to have a counter productive effect by stripping the natural oils your dog builds up, making the skin and coat flaky, dry, and itchy.  If this shampoo doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you might have to see your vet for a more powerful prescription based shampoo to help solve the problem if nothing else on here works.

Wipes

So I can bath my dog twice a month to help with the itching, but what can I do in between baths to keep the itching under control?

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to help your dog out between the dreaded bath time. Most pet stores will sell dog wipes that can be used to wipe off any potential irritants before they become a problem.  You can purchase the scented version, if you want your dog to smell nice after, or for those super sensitive dogs, they have unscented versions available too.  If you can’t find them in your local pet store, you can also go with plain old baby wipes too.  Just make sure they’re chemical free so they don’t irritate your dog’s skin.

I love keeping wipes around the house, and in the car, not only for allergy reasons, but if your furry friend decides to step in a, let’s say, less than sanitary substance on your walk, you have a way to clean it off before you let them back into the car or house.  These wipes are also great to wipe your dog down with after going anywhere outdoors that might trigger some allergies.  The wipe will remove a large majority of any potential allergens your dog picks up while sticking his head in bushes and around trees to check for his arch nemesis, the squirrel.

Brushing

You may think that brushing is only good to control shedding and to keep the hair tangle free, but did you know its a great way to make sure the skin and coat stays healthy as well?  When you brush your dog, it helps to evenly spread the naturally occurring oils they produce, which helps keep the coat shinny and also keeps the skin from getting dry and flaky.  A good brushing twice a week is an easy way to help them out during the months where you’re constantly battling the drier air.

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Apple Cider Vinegar

This works great for all itching problems, and is especially effective if the itchiness your dog is experiencing is from a yeast issue.  Apple Cider Vinegar is an easy to use solution that you might already have in the kitchen somewhere.  Make sure you use the unfiltered and unpasteurized version that still has the apple juice color to it. The acidity helps neutralize the yeast, and in turn, give your dog the relief they were looking for.  Just mix up a solution of 50% water and 50% apple cider vinegar and your ready to go.  You can apply it with a spray bottle, soaking a towel in it, or just place them in a bathtub and slowly pour it over them while rubbing it in. A lot of owners see immediate relief as soon as they apply it.

I usually recommend giving them a rub down of the solution for 3 days strait to start with and then you can go to as needed after that.  Like the shampoo, you don’t want to be doing this every day for a long period of time because it will start to dry out the skin. After the initial treatment, try once every week, and try using some of the other recommendations on here in between applications. One word of caution with this, if your dog has an open sore, or has scratched to a point where the skin is red, the apple cider vinegar solution will sting because of its acidity.  You can start with a more diluted solution at first, and as the sores heal, move to forward to a 50/50 mixture.

Not only is apple cider vinegar great for exterior use, but it also has some great use for internal issues as well.  To get a more comprehensive list of all the ways apple cider vinegar can be used, CLICK HERE.

Hopefully, you will be able find a combination of products on here that will work well for your dog’s specific itching problems.  For my dog, I currently using the salmon oil, oatmeal shampoo, and brush my dog a few times week and that seems to work for her most of the time.  If I notice she is still getting itchy, I’ll add in some Missing Link for a month or two to help get her back to normal, but I don’t need to use that year around.

Do you have a itching remedy that works great, but isn’t listed on here? Please share your experience in the comment section below, I would love to hear what has worked for you.

I’m Thinking of Biking with my Dog, So Now What? – Part 2 / Gear

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Now that we’ve covered some of the basis of biking with your dog, let’s look at what equipment you will need to keep both you and your dog safe.  Before you begin, please make sure your dog is in good physical shape. They will be running for a prolonged period of time, so any small health issues can become bigger issues very quickly.  If you’re at all unsure if your dog can handle the stress, please check with your vet before you start biking with your dog.  Also, if your dog is under the age of 1, you really don’t want to put a lot of pressure on your dog’s muscular and skeletal system, as it’s still developing.  You can start teaching them to be comfortable next to a bike, and start teaching commands, but try and avoid having them run until they are over a year old.

OK, so now you’re ready to start, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment to keep both of your safe. So let’s dig in to the basics.

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How to Keep Your Dog Cool and Comfortable in the Summer Heat – Part 3: At Home and Safety Tips

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At Home Cooling

Now that I’ve covered cooling beds and how to keep dogs cool during outdoor activities, the final topic we will explore is day-to-day activities at home.  Because our dogs tend to spend a majority of their lives at home, we want to make sure they’re cool, comfortable, and stay hydrated all day long.

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How to Keep Your Dog Cool and Comfortable in the Summer Heat – Part 2: Outdoor Activities

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Outdoor Activities

In the previous post, I wrote about keeping your dog comfortable while relaxing and sleeping, so let’s move on to keeping them cool while on the go.  When the weather warms up, we naturally get outside more often with our dogs, but before you do, you’ll want to make sure they stay cool so they can safely enjoy the longer days of summer.

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How to Keep Your Dog Cool and Comfortable in the Summer Heat – Part 1: Beds

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As our so-called Southern California “Winter” comes to a close, and we move into Spring and Summer, temperatures are going to start rising fast.  Owning a Husky in Southern California has forced me to become a semi-expert on keeping a dog cool during the worst of the heat, and I wanted to pass some of the helpful info I’ve learned, and the products I’ve used, over the last few years, to help make my dog as comfortable as possible as we face the hottest months of the year.  Because there are so many things to cover, I have split this into three separate blog post: Beds, Outdoors, and At Home.  So let’s get started.

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What do you Need to Bring When Camping with a Dog?

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UPDATED: February 2017

I go camping with my dog, Sierra, multiple times every year, and every time it’s a new adventure.  I know she has as much fun, if not more, than we do when we take a trip to explore the great outdoors.  In my opinion, if you can bring your 4-legged friend along for the adventure, it makes the whole experience better for everyone involved.  I can’t imaging going camping without her now.  If you’ve never been camping with your dog before, DO IT!  But, before you head outdoors, you need to make sure you, and your dog, are prepared with the right equipment.  Also, it’s important to verify that your dog is allowed in the campground you’re looking at.  You wouldn’t want to get to the site and be turned away before you even settle in.  Most National and State parks will allow dogs, but have different restrictions, always check before you plan a trip.  Below, I have compiled a list of some of the essential gear that I have used while camping, and you should consider looking into, before you start your next adventure.

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What Gear Should you Bring While Hiking with a Dog?

Updated March 2017

I wanted to do a quick write-up on all of the gear that Sierra, our dog, currently uses when we go on our hiking trips.  Just like you have probably heard about being prepared yourself before going out into nature, it’s just as important for your dog to be prepared as well.  This is not an all-inclusive list of everything you will need while hiking, because each hike is unique and requires different equipment based on length, terrain, weather, and much more.  However, everything on this list has been a huge help for us, and will hopefully give you some ideas on what to look for, so you too can be prepared before you go outdoors with your dog.  If you want more info about the products listed below, click on them to be directed to Amazon for additional reviews and pricing.

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