How itching and scratching in dogs can be caused by poor nutrition

The owners of itching dogs often assume the problem is external - this seems logical because the skin is on the outside of the body. But although there can be external causes, such as fleas and some dog skin allergies, your itchy dog is just as likely to be scratching because of what's going on internally.

Itching and the immune system

Itchy skin is often caused by a weak immune system - and that's usually down to what your dog eats. Most commercial dog foods contain artificial additives, preservatives, colours, animal and meat derivatives and derivatives of vegetable origin. They are a byproduct of the human food industry, a good way of using up the leftovers and yukky bits we don’t want to eat, such as intestines, bones, cartilage etc. These ingredients don’t have much nutrition left after being ground up and heated to very high temperatures.

There can also be toxins; they make your dog's immune system work in overdrive every day. When the immune system is struggling, it reacts in inappropriate ways, with very itchy results. To make matters worse, low quality dog foods provide very little in the way of nutrients, the vitamins, minerals and enzymes needed to support your dog's immune system. Your dog's itching and scratching could be caused by a general nutritional deficiency. Alternatively a lack of specific nutrients could be responsible - a shortage of omega oils, for example, usually leads to flaky, dry skin.

Stop your dog itching with proper nutrition

Of all the natural remedies for itchy skin in dogs, a good quality, balanced diet is often the best starting point. A quality food will support the immune system, keep the skin and coat healthy, and reduce itching. But remember, it's not just about meals! The treats and rewards your dog gets are also part of his dietary intake and should be as nutritious and free of unnecessary additives as possible. If you think that the treats are what are made with what’s left of the dog food, you get the picture!

Your dog might also benefit from a supplement to provide all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes needed for a healthy immune system. And if dry, flaky skin is responsible for your dog itching, remedies that include omega 3 and 6 oil supplements can be highly effective. In many cases, getting your dog's diet right will stop your dog itching. But if your dog is receiving a healthy balanced diet, and is still suffering from itchy skin, you will need to consider other causes, such as parasites and allergies.

Note: There's a difference between general diet-related itching and dog food allergies, which involve an allergic reaction to a specific type of food.

What to look for when choosing pet food?

When looking at dog food in the store, the best way of determining if it’s a good food or not is to turn the bag around and read the back of the packet. Anything on the front side is fluff, written to attract you to it. Read the ingredients. If you see single protein sources listed e.g. lamb 26% then the meat must by law be flesh (not tendons or feet!).

Look for vegetables, carbs and minerals listed separately, eg. potato, brown rice, carrots, seaweed etc. Stay away from EC Permitted Colours, Tapioca Starch, Maize Gluten Meal (look like wallpaper paste, cheap, dense fillers), sugar and any derivatives including meat, animal and vegetable. These really are the minced up dregs and provide little nutritional value for your dog.

Pay more, you’ll need to feed less, saving you money. Your dog will be happier and healthier, it won’t cost you much more and will save you a fortune in vet’s bills in the end.

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