‘Don’t Know What to do about your Itchy Dog?’ was published in Westies & Besties magazine, Nov 2022 Issue 27 Volume 1 p10-13. The focus is on Westies but is relevant for all dogs that suffer with itchy skin.
Two of the most important words in itchy dog management are ‘External Microbiome’. In fact, the external microbiome is the missing piece in so many areas of your Westie’s well-being. If you are not familiar with the microbiome, or how to keep the microbiomes in your Westie’s life balanced and healthy – read on to find out more!
There has been a huge increase in poorly, ‘itchy dogs’ in recent years, Westies among them. Although Westies are generally robust, they can have a genetic predisposition to several skin conditions. These include uncomfortable reactions caused by environmental and seasonal allergens.
Young dogs are especially susceptible to these bio-allergens, and symptoms often develop before the age of three. This can make life miserable for your beloved Westie – and for you:
Itchy Dog Symptoms
- Itching and scratching
- Chewing and licking – particularly paws
- Inflamed skin, rashes and redness
- Dry, flaky skin
- Recurrent ear infections – shaking head
- Hair loss and dandruff
- Unpleasant odour
Itchy Dog Reasons
Unfortunately, if your Westie has itchy skin, you’ll know how complex, chronic and hard to resolve this tough condition can be. The problem is, there is rarely one clear cut cause – and if there is, it is hard to pinpoint. Instead, there are a myriad of possibilities, including:
- Diet and lifestyle
- Exposure to chemicals – including household cleaning products
- Seasonal allergens (grass, tree and leaf pollen)
- Microbes (parasites, bacteria, mould)
- House dust mite poop
- Pollutants in their outdoor environment
Most dogs can’t escape these everyday allergens that trigger their symptoms. They often don’t understand the need to stay away from them – or can’t tell you what they suspect is making them unwell. In addition, their attempts to alleviate the itching by licking and scratching often makes things worse. This all makes itchy skin hard to resolve; it can easily develop into a frustrating and life-long chronic condition.
The Microbiome and Allergic Skin Disease
So, back to the most important words in itchy skin relief: the external microbiome.
The microbiome is the natural community of microorganisms, including bacteria (‘good’ and ‘bad’), viruses and fungi, that exist on skin, in the gut, and on all surfaces, including your home
A diverse, healthy and dynamic microbiome supports good health, well-being and immunity. This is one of the most important factors in dog skin allergy care.Problems with itchy dogs can increase when either the microbiome on their skin (the ‘skin biome’) and/or in their home (the ‘home biome’) is out of balance.
Restoring and maintaining healthy microbiome balance is key to protecting and preventing Westies from the nightmare of itchy skin.
Itchy Dogs and the Skin Biome
A healthy skin biome provides a defensive barrier that shields your Westie from the external influences and bio-allergens listed above. Unfortunately, many traditional treatments (antihistamines, steroids, medicated and anti-bacterial shampoos, repeated antibiotics, antifungals…) focus only on symptoms. They don’t resolve a key root cause – the disrupted microflora – or reduce exposure to the bio-allergens that constantly trigger reactions.
Some treatments act like a nuclear bomb. They wipe out all microorganisms in the microbiome – both helpful and harmful. This creates disruption at a cellular level and increases the risk of repeat infections, yeast overgrowth, atopic dermatitis, allergies and more. This can tip your poor Westie into a chronic cycle of recurring flare-ups of bacterial and yeast infections.
Repeat outbreaks and repeat treatments, are stressful for your poorly pet and can cost you a small fortune.
(Note: Although the indiscriminate and overuse of antibiotics causes problems, when antibiotics are so important when genuinely needed; if prescribed, always finish the course).
Itchy Dogs and the Home Biome
A healthy home biome creates a protective indoor space that supports your Westie’s health and well-being. The problem is, chemical cleaning products and air fresheners cause long-term health issues for pets (as well as humans). Many contain phthalates, parabens, QUATs, GMO or chemicals of concern such a Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Phenoxyethanol. These toxins are designed to destroy the microbiome. Cleaning products boasting ‘kills 99.9% of all known germs’ should send shivers down your spine!
Floor cleaning products are especially problematic if your cheeky pooch walks on your freshly chemically-cleaned floor with sweaty or wet paws – and then licks those paws.
How to Restore and Maintain Healthy Microflora Balance in the Microbiome
Itchy skin can be a complex condition but small changes in different areas of your Westie’s life can have a big improvement overall. Like athletes, consistent marginal gains make a significant difference.
One easy improvement is to re-introduce healthy, ‘good’ bacteria (probiotics) externally to your Westie’s skin and home environment. This works in a similar way to probiotic supplements that support and rebalance your Westie’s digestion and gut health.
Introducing healthy bacteria into your Westie’s life is beneficial –
the World Health Organisation (WHO) agrees!
The ‘Itchy Westie’ Remedy Plan with Probiotics
Simply swapping microbiome-damaging pet care and cleaning products for microbiome-friendly, properly pet-safe versions with added probiotics can really help. This reduces chemical exposure and rebuilds and regulates a healthy biome that supports your Westie’s immunity and well-being. Adding probiotics also works pro-actively; prevention is always better than cure.
Helpful probiotics actively remove harmful bacteria, pollen, dust-mites and more. They remain active on the skin, coat and other surfaces for up to three days. This simple step in the right direction helps to:
- Restore and maintain a healthier skin and home biome.
- Prevent and limit exposure to environmental triggers.
- Soothe and alleviate symptoms.
Step 1: Replenish the Skin Biome
Firstly, bathe your dog with LUCAA+ Pet Probiotic Shampoo 300ml. This nourishing shampoo cleanses skin and fur whilst actively restoring a healthy skin biome. The gentle formula respects the skin’s pH balance and sensitivity and has no harsh chemicals that damage the skin.
Introducing healthy shampoo and skin spray with added probiotic ‘good’ bacteria restores a healthy microbiome and reduces allergen exposure. This gently reduces inflammation, itching, odour and redness and restores healthier sebum and skin.
Secondly, apply Probiotic Allergen-Free Spray 300ml onto the skin and coat. Spray twice daily for the first few days, then reduce to one, then use as required to relieve itching. This healthy spray prevents, protects and relieves itchy skin and reduces excessive scratching, hot spots, rashes and flaky skin.
You can also spray directly onto your bedding, toys (especially stuffed toys), coats and harnesses to reduce hidden allergens lurking there.
Step 2: Replenish your Home Biome
Two ways to a healthier home biome that is a safer space for you as well as your pet!
Firstly, clean floors (and carpets if desired) with EVAA+ Probiotic Floor Cleaner Concentrate 1 Litre. This naturally-sourced floor cleaner reduces your Westie’s skin-to-skin contact with chemicals as well as environmental bio-allergens that settle on the floor. The healthy probiotics remain on the floor and keep working for up to three days, for longer lasting results.
Secondly, clean the hard surfaces where your dog hangs out – around your home, in your car and any kennels or pet carriers with EVAA+ Probiotic Universal Cleaner Concentrate 1 Litre. This versatile, naturally-sourced all-purpose cleaner is safe for your Westie and the environment. The added probiotics actively reduce bio-allergens, improve indoor air quality and reduce odours and organic waste.
Put it All Together – the Probiotic Pet Skin Allergy Pack
This easy-to-use probiotic care and cleaning pack creates a lower allergen home for your dog with atopic allergies: Helps to prevent and alleviate itchy skin for a happier, healthier life!
All Provilan probiotic pet care and cleaning products are naturally-sourced, non-toxic, hypo-allergenic and suitable for sensitive skin. In addition, they are PETA-certified as vegan and cruelty-free. Unlike many other products, all are safe for the environment and do not harm aquatic life when discarded down the drain. Contact us on email@example.com or call 01268 544530 to find out more.