The holidays are in full swing, and you can practically hear sleigh bells on the rooftops. Or maybe that’s just your pet! Along with the festivities, winter brings incessant jangling from pets who can’t seem to shake that itch. The drop in temperature can send cats and dogs into an itching frenzy that gets on a pet parent’s last nerves.
Just like humans, our furry companions get dry, itchy skin during winter due to the lack of humidity in the air. Some pets have seasonal allergies that get worse in winter because they’re spending more time around indoor allergens like household cleaners and artificial fragrances.
No matter the cause, pet parents can relieve itchy skin in dogs and cats by experimenting with these natural remedies.
- Make a tea bath or spray: Herbal teas like chamomile and calendula are known for their ability to calm dry, itchy skin. For pets that are itchy everywhere, prepare a tea bath by steeping several tea bags in a tub full of warm water. Allow your pet to soak in the tea bath for at least five minutes. Alternatively, pet parents can brew two cups of tea and pour them into a spray bottle (let the tea cool first!). Spray the tea on itchy patches, then gently massage their coat to ensure it reaches the skin.
- Add green tea to their food: Some pets won’t tolerate a tea bath or spray, especially our feline companions! If that’s the case, you can still relieve your pet’s itchy skin by letting the tea heal from the inside out. Prepare a quarter cup of decaffeinated green tea, let it cool and pour it over their food. Green tea contains a compound called EGCG that prevents receptors from triggering an allergic reaction. Green tea can also reduce histamine levels in the body. For these reasons, green tea works well for pets who are itchy due to seasonal allergies.
- Apply apple cider vinegar to itchy skin: Apple cider vinegar is a common household item that does wonders for healing patches of dry, itchy skin. As an added bonus, this ingredient has antiseptic properties that guard against secondary infections due to constant biting, licking or scratching. Spray equal parts water and apple cider vinegar where there are no scratches or skin that’s been rubbed raw. Remember, apple cider vinegar stings on open wounds!
- Give a few drops of licorice root: Licorice root is a cortisone that relieves skin irritation. The plant also has a naturally sweet taste that pets will love! Create a tincture for your pet by mixing five drops of licorice root, dandelion root and cat’s claw. Give them five drops of the mixture per day for up to two weeks. Note that cortisone is a steroid that could potentially interfere with medications. Consult a veterinarian before giving licorice root to your pet for itchy skin.
- Introduce quercetin into their diet: Quercetin is a compound that naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables. It’s known as a powerful antihistamine that minimizes redness and itchiness. Some great options to satisfy your pet’s quercetin needs include berries, leafy greens and cooked broccoli. You can also give pets a quercetin supplement, but be sure to ask a vet about proper dosage first.
- Increase your pet’s omega-3 fatty acids: Naturally derived from cold-water fish, omega-3 fatty acids fortify the skin barrier to more effectively block out seasonal allergens. This healthy fat combats itchy skin caused by dry weather and restores a shiny, luscious appearance to your pet’s coat. Salmon, tuna and trout are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but pet parents can find them in supplement form, as well.
- Give your pet an oatmeal bath: Oatmeal has long been regarded as the holy grail of itchy skin remedies! The pet-safe ingredient can banish itchiness within minutes. Grind some plain oats into a fine powder, then sprinkle the oats throughout warm bath water. After soaking your pet for 10 to 15 minutes, the oatmeal will calm redness and reduce the urge to itch. For cats, try making an oatmeal paste that consists of water and ground oats. Apply the paste directly to dry, itchy patches of skin.
No pet should be left to itch all winter long. Dry skin is an easy fix, and you already have some of the ingredients necessary to heal it! Many common items found in the kitchen can offer pets some reprieve from wintertime itchiness. Natural remedies can work just as well as commercial pet products, if not better. Next time your pet starts itching, take a look in your cabinets and see what remedies you can whip up!