10 BEST Home Remedies for Dog Allergies: How to Stop the Itching Naturally!

Home remedies for dog allergies differ from conventional treatments in that they address the root of the problem in addition to relieving the symptoms.

Many conventional products treat the symptoms but do nothing to heal the core issue, resulting in symptoms that recur again and again.

Conventional treatments do have their place and provide relief in situations where home remedies were not effective (more later), but they have some pretty sobering side effects that results in owners wanting to try a natural alternative to cytopoint or apoquel before resorting to these drugs.

The first step you can take as a natural dog owner is to educate yourself on how allergies occur. This allows you to better understand how home remedies for dog allergies address the core issues causing your dog’s discomfort.

beagle itching from allergies needing natural alternatives to cytopoint

Dog Allergies: Home Remedies Can Work

Important Disclaimer: I am not a vet. Not even close. I’m just sharing my own personal experience and information I have read. If you think you want to try something you read about here, talk to your vet! But first read this and many more articles to empower yourself for a good discussion in which you can ask your vet great questions about what you want to try.

Knowledge is power – never forget that!

Dog allergies can appear out of the blue. At first, you think your dog just has an itch. Then you notice they keep itching or licking the same spot.

Or maybe you notice a big red raw spot (called a “hot spot”) on your dog’s skin. All of these point to one dreaded word: allergies.  

Allergies are an extremely tough issue to deal with, and most of what you read will be about “controlling” them, not getting rid of them.

As an owner of 2 dogs with allergies, I know how overwhelming dog allergies can be. There are many treatment options, and both conventional and home remedies for dog allergies involve considerable cost.

It can take many months before you know if a treatment you are trying is helping; in the meantime, how do you control your dog’s itching so they aren’t miserable?

Patience and perseverance are key. Read below to become more informed about your options so that you can formulate the approach you think is best for your dog.

Symptoms of Dog Allergies

Allergies can show up in a variety of ways:

  • Incessant scratching, itching, and gnawing on the skin. Many times skin is red and inflamed.
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea after exposure to allergen
  • Wheezing, coughing, nasal discharge
  • Behavioral changes

When you notice one or more of the above, it may be an allergy, or it may be an illness. The best course of action is to have your dog examined by a vet. They will be able to see if your dog has a temperature and also determine what microorganisms are present on your dog’s skin.

The presence of yeast or bacteria can be an indicator of yeast overgrowth or a staff infection on the skin. Skin infections are a secondary condition that can develop as a result of allergies.

laborador retriever licking a hot spot that is miserable and red and needs treatment using home remedies for dog allergies that provide a natural alternative to cytopoint.

Causes of Dog Allergies

Although allergic symptoms occur after exposure to a trigger, the underlying reason isn’t the trigger itself.

Allergies are the result of a malfunctioning immune system. When your dog is allergic to something, its immune system mistakenly believes that the substance (food or environmental) is harmful to your body and produces IgE antibodies (thinking it needs to “fight” the substance).

This then causes certain cells in the body to release specific chemicals such as histamines (which trigger an inflammatory response), and cytokine (an inflammatory messenger).

These chemicals can cause the outward allergic symptoms we see in our pet’s eyes, nose, or skin, as well as internal issues in the brain, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract.

Now comes the tricky part: some of these allergic reactions occur quickly, within minutes or hours of contact with the trigger. Other allergies do not become evident for years, making pinpointing the offending trigger next to impossible.

Triggers of Dog Allergies

Figuring out the trigger(s) of your dog’s allergies can be tough. You need to be observant and put information together detailing the circumstances of each reaction.

When you notice allergy symptoms, take note of when they occur. Is it worse at certain times of day?

Look at the time and see if it is commonly after a meal or after a walk, daytime or nighttime – these types of details can help you hone in on what may be causing the reaction.

In the long term, noting what time of year they happen is also helpful. If you find your dog’s allergic symptoms appear at the same time each year, be sure to read about dog seasonal allergies & home remedies that can help your dog overcome the itchy skin, eyes, and skin infections that seasonal allergies cause.

Notice where your dog’s allergic symptoms occur. For example, if your dog’s allergies manifest as chronic ear infections, there may be specific home remedies for dog ear infections that can help.

If your pet’s symptoms are behavioral, you may be dealing with a food and/or environmental intolerance. There is not a lot of information out there yet on environmental triggers or foods that make dogs aggressive, but as the mom of a dog that becomes reactive when he eats certain foods and when the leaves fall every autumn, I can tell you with certainty that they exist!

Read more about this in the next section.

a cute furry dog in sitting in a meadow and scratching his ears because he has allergies and needs a home remedy for allergies that provide a natural alternative to cytopoint

Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerances

I want to quickly touch on this to help people distinguish which issue their dog is dealing with.

A food allergy will cause an immediate reaction that you will see within hours of eating the offending food.

A food intolerance, however, causes a delayed reaction called an IgG reaction that can take one to three days to occur.

Although “intolerance” sounds milder, that is not always the case.

As the owner of a dog who morphs from a sweet dog into a dog with major aggression directed at other dogs (including his dog housemates), I struggled for years trying to figure out his behavior issues until a chance diet change helped me understand he had a food intolerance that was manifesting behaviorally.

Tico’s story:

At the recommendation of Tico’s veterinary acupuncturist, we added oatmeal to his diet. Within days, his behavior changed from normal to on alert and amped-up, then to physically attacking one of our other dogs when the dog would enter the room.

This continued for days (getting progressively worse) until, out of desperation, I eliminated the oatmeal – doubting it would help, but it was the only change I could think of that had occurred before the behavior worsened.

Within days the aggression began to subside, and I realized that the behavioral issues we were dealing with were due to his body’s response to his diet, and possibly other environmental factors.

I have an entire article discussing the question “Can dog food cause aggression?” that sheds some light on behavioral issues caused by food intolerances.

I found that there is not a lot of information out there about this issue; I’m hoping more will become available to help owners cope with and reduce the reactive behaviors that can occur as a result of food intolerances.

If you suspect your dog has a food intolerance, read about Jean Dodd’s NutriScan test in #3 below.

How Can I Control My Dog’s Allergies?

**Note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them. By using the link to buy the products you are helping support happyynaturaldog.com**

This is a huge question, with a wide variety of opinions, approaches, and suggestions.

You have to find the approach that resonates with you, your philosophy about health, and your approach to pet ownership, then give it a try.

To fully understand the different approaches, you need to differentiate between a dog allergy symptom and a dog allergy cause. Natural remedies for dog allergies primarily focus on the cause. The goal is to heal the body so that the underlying cause ceases to exist.

There are also home remedies for dog allergies that focus on relieving symptoms. You will use a combination of remedies in order to relieve your dog’s symptoms while healing the core issue causing the allergies.

Conventional medications tend to do one of two things. Some, like Benedryl, block the production of histamine (which causes itching), so you will have to use them for life because they don’t address the core issue.

Others, like Apoquel, focus on suppressing the itching by suppressing the immune system, or in the case of Cytopoint, inhibit one specific part of the immune system.

This reduces allergy symptoms, but also inhibits important functions in the dog’s immune system. A partially functioning immune system leaves your dog vulnerable to other diseases and illnesses.

Some people will try home remedies for dog allergies first, and only resort to conventional as a last resort.

Here is a brief outline of different things owners can do to help relieve their dog’s allergy symptoms.

Toolbox graphic surrounded by ideas & home remedies for dog allergies that can provide a natural alternative to cytopoint

10 Home Remedies For Dog Allergies That Provide a Possible Natural Alternative To Cytopoint and Apoquel

Let’s take a look at 10 home remedies that provide possible natural alternatives to Cytopoint and Apoquel.

1. Look for Contributing Factors That are Within Your Control

  • Fleas & mites: These tiny critters can cause immense itching and misery for your dog, especially if your dog is allergic to flea bites.

    Fleas are easier to spot; look in the armpits, groin area, and under the base of the tail. They are a tiny black bug (about the size of a fruit fly), extremely fast, and are hard to squish between your fingers.

    Mites are harder to see, and usually a visit to the vet is needed to help identify which (if any) are present.

    If fleas are present and you want to avoid using the conventional flea-killing chemicals on the market, you can read about natural alternative in my article “Do natural flea and tick products work.”
  • Eliminate stress in the dog’s environment: Dogs are no different than humans; stress can lower their immune system and make them more vulnerable to illnesses and allergies.

    Notice what things stress your dog and reduce or eliminate any that you can. Regular exercise and human interaction will also help the dog handle any stressors that you can’t eliminate from their environment.

    If you have a new dog, giving it time to adjust while following set routines can reduce stress as well.
  • Eliminate unhealthy foods: If your dog is not on a high-quality food, is fed people food (even if just as a “treat”), or if you are aware of certain foods they have reacted to in the past, be sure to eliminate them.

2. Build Up Your Dog’s Immune System – Heal the Gut

When we heal the gut, we strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system will learn not to respond to foods or environmental conditions that previously produced an allergic reaction.

Once the immune system is balanced, many allergy symptoms will subside or disappear.

There are many ways to strengthen a dog’s immune system, ranging from the foods you feed your dog to beneficial supplements you can add to their diet. Learn how to naturally strengthen your dog’s immune system in my article discussing the best immune system boosters for dogs.

3. Feed a Healthy Food

Switching to a high-quality diet can have a significant effect on your dog’s overall health.

Raw or home-cooked diets are an excellent option. This pros and cons of homemade dog food discussion describes a long list of benefits of making your dog’s food. If you are considering feeding raw, read this article talking about raw dog food vs. dry.

For raw and home-cooked diets, you will want to learn how to find a holistic vet who can help you plan the food and supplements you should include in your dog’s meals to ensure you are giving your dog a balanced diet.

If home-prepared food isn’t an option, buy the highest quality kibble you can find, being very cognizant of the ingredients and how your dog reacts after eating the food.

Common food allergies seen in dogs are corn, wheat, soy, or a specific meat source.

Jean Dodd’s NutriScan test: If you suspect that your dog has food intolerance(s), Dr. Jean Dodd has developed a test that looks for intolerance of the 24 most commonly ingested foods by dogs. It is a salivary test that you can do at home.

Nutriscan story:

I have wanted to do the NutriScan test with my dog Tico for years.

I had seen changes in his behavior after eating certain foods: he would become reactive and on high alert, barking at everything on the planet and chasing our cats.

Foods that had caused the most extreme changes were:

Oatmeal (he suddenly began growling and attacking my senior golden retriever).

Turkey hot dogs and raw turkey (he became very amped-up, barked out windows, went nuts at dogs on walks).

Certain kibbles had caused behavior changes but I couldn’t tell which ingredient in the kibble was the culprit.

This spring I took the plunge and did the Nutriscan test; the results validated behavior changes I had noted, lending credibility to the test. The test report listed the foods that Tico reacted to and should avoid: turkey, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and white fish.

Turkey and oatmeal were foods I already knew set him off; it was so validating to have the test show those as foods he reacted to and realize my observations were correct.

White fish also made sense; one of the kibbles I had fed Tico before noticing some behavioral changes was a white fish variety. And sweet potatoes are in a large number of kibbles, it’s possible the level was higher in some of the kibbles that he did not do well on.

4. Supplement Your Dog’s Diet

Diet supplementation can involve products that build the immune system, heal the gut, reduce inflammation, and more.

DON’T go out and buy every supplement on the market; what you add will depend on the specific needs of your pet. Work with your holistic vet to determine which system needs strengthening (immune, gut, etc).

Here is a sampling of things used to help dogs with allergies:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation throughout the body. Common sources are salmon, tuna, anchovy, and other fish oils, as well as raw egg yolks.
  • Quercetin, Bromelain, and Papain: Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties and suppresses histamine release. Bromelain and papain also suppress histamine production and increase the absorption of quercetin.

This product contains both quercetin and bromelain,
and is formulated in dosages meant for dogs:

  • Probiotics are key to establishing good gastrointestinal health, which in turn strengthens the immune system – a key to reducing and preventing allergies.

  • Vitamin C helps to stabilize mast cells so they are less likely to release histamine and other allergy-related chemicals.

  • Raw Honey can strengthen the immune system and promote digestive health (only raw honey, all benefits are lost when pasteurized).
  • Stinging Nettles have been used for centuries, known for their ability to not only help with itching by reducing inflammation but also for helping desensitize the body to allergens.
  • Coconut Oil can help decrease the production of yeast and moderate the immune response.

5. Colostrum

Colostrum has many beneficial properties, one of which is stregthening the immune system and enhancing gut health. The mechanism behind its success as a home remedy for dog allergies is something in colostrum called “proline-rich polypeptides.”

Proline-rich polypeptides serve as regulatory agents for the immune system, and research has shown that they contribute to the improvement (and possible alleviation) of allergy symptoms.

I found a few animal-specific studies looking at this phenomenon. In one, bovine colostrum supplementation was shown to help strengthen the immune system and enhance the gut microbiome of kittens.

In another, diets supplemented with bovine colostrum significantly enhanced immune response in dogs.

I did read that when buying colostrum it’s important to look at the company’s sourcing. I found this product, made by Ancestral Supplements, that is sourced from cattle in New Zealand and Australia that are 100% grass-fed, pasture raised without hormones. They use low-temperature processing and a small-batch philosophy to preserve all the healthy components in the colostrum (some other companies I looked at use high-temperature flash pasteurization).

6. Baths

This has been a big one for my dog.

Whether your dog is itching from environmental or dietary factors, keeping their skin clean can help. Environmentally it’s obvious, baths will rinse the offending allergens off the skin.

You can use a natural oatmeal soap, or if you are bathing frequently, rinsing with just water sometimes (not using shampoo each time) can prevent your dog’s skin from drying out or becoming irritated.

Some owners rinse their dog’s feet each time they come back inside if itching is confined to the feet.

My dog’s itching also comes from yeast overgrowth, and giving him a bath every few days provides visible relief for him.

Need shampoo ideas? Here are a few.

Nature’s Specialties Aloe Concentrate Herbal Shampoo

This shampoo is my hands-down favorite for all of my dogs. It has limited ingredients that are very gentle on my dog’s skin, plus they don’t strip the oils from my dog’s fur. I’ve used it on dogs with allergies and it worked better than oatmeal shampoos.

After their bath the dog’s fur is silky soft and shiny.

Added bonus: because it is a concentrate, you use only a small amount of the concentrate in the mixing bottle then add water, so it saves a ton of money and reduces plastic waste in landfills.

4-Legger Certified Organic Dog Shampoo:
(Amazing list of all-natural ingredients – click & read!)


Pro Pet Works All Natural Dog Shampoo + Conditioner

hypoallergenic oatmeal shampoo with Vit E and aloe vera and other natural ingredients to help with dog allergies

7. Find a dog cone alternative while your dog heals

While you are trying home remedies, you need to keep your dog from licking or chewing the areas you are treating. Check out these dog cone of shame alternatives that accomplish that without making your dog miserable.

8. Essential oils

Many dog owners wonder… are essential oils safe for dogs? After reading Kristen Leigh Bell’s Holistic Aromatherapy For Animals, I learned that, if used correctly, essential oils can be very helpful for both emotional and physical dog issues – including use as a home remedy for dog allergies.

Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell, an expert in essential oil home remedies for dog allergies

Bell shares recipes for soothing skin sprays, soothing essential oil blends, a hot spot healer, and a skin herbal rinse. Each recipe contains herbs and essential oils that calm and soothe inflamed skin conditions, reduce itching, act as an analgesic, and even provide antihistamine effects.

9. Acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractic

Each of these alternative medicine modalities can be used to treat your dog’s allergies.

They focus on the constitutional level of the problem and the whole health of the dog, restoring balance and whole-body health, which in turn can reduce or eliminate allergies.

Owners need to remember that these methods are longer-term approaches and rarely stop allergies overnight; allergies are tough conditions that can take months or longer to resolve.

I have an article that dives into the question “Does acupuncture for dogs work?” and discusses the use of acupuncture for allergies and other issues.

10. Fecal Transplants

I read a fascinating article by Dr. Odette Suter about how fecal transplants can help your dog that included some pretty impressive before an after pictures of a dog with skin allergies.

A fecal transplant, also called Microbiome Restorative Therapy (MBRT) or Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), is defined on AnimalBiome.com as

“the process in which stool from a healthy donor is transferred to the intestines of a sick recipient. The stool from the donor contains a functioning and healthy community of bacteria that can take up residence in the sick recipient’s gut.”

There are three ways of doing a fecal transplant:

Colonoscopy FMT: A tube is inserted through the anus and into the large intestine; liquified donor feces is deposited in the large intestine.

Nasogastric FMT: A tube is inserted through the mouth or nose, through the stomach, and into the small intestine; liquified donor feces is deposited in the small intestine. This method isn’t as common as a colonoscopy.

Nasogastric FMT: Oral FMT (FMT Capsules): A less invasive approach, oral FMT involves ingesting capsules that are designed to release a community of viable gut bacteria once they reach the small intestine. Oral FMT capsules are more affordable and less invasive than a procedure in a vet’s office.

You can read more about healing your dog with a fecal microbiome transplant on the Animal Biome website.

How could this help an allergic dog? As you read above, allergies are caused by a poorly functioning immune system. And poor gut health has been tied to a weak immune system in study after study.

So . . . the theory is that if you restore optimum gut health with a fecal transplant, the immune system will start to function as it should, and allergic symptoms will disappear.

Conventional Drugs

This approach focuses more on the symptoms of the allergies. The two heavy hitters are Apoquel and Cytopoint.

Apoquel

Apoquel focuses on inhibiting something in the body called a Janus kinase inhibitor, JAK for short. JAKs perform the following functions:

  • Forming red and white blood cells
  • Acting as sentinels in the body helping protect against tumor formation
  • Ensuring that the “policing” T-cells and the antibody-producing B cells are functioning well
  • Controlling body growth and development
  • Regulating the body’s inflammatory response

Apoquel is effective in treating your dog’s itching because it is preventing a part of your dog’s immune sytem from working effectively. The good news is that it slows or stops the inflammatory cytokines that cause your dog’s itching and inflammation.

The bad news is that suppressing certain JAKs can lead to a decrease in white blood cells, elevated liver values, and increase your dog’s susceptibility to certain cancers, tumors, and infections.

Cytopoint

Cytopoint is a protein that binds to the cytokine directly associated with chronic itching, so it basically blocks the itch signal in the nerves. It has fewer reported side effects when compared to Apoquel, the most common being lethargy in the first 24-48 hours post-injection.

There have been some reports of diminished response with each additional injection, possibly indicating that the body developed antibodies to cytopoint.

It’s important to note that Apoquel and Cytopoint suppress the itch, but do not address the underlying cause.

On the one hand, these medications can reduce itching in dogs, giving them relief and quality of life.

On the flip side, you are only putting a band-aid on the problem by not dealing with the underlying cause. In the case of Apoquel, you are also diminishing the immune system’s ability to detect and fight off certain infections and cancers, and may detrimentally affect white and red blood cell levels.

If you haven’t tried home remedies yet, I definitely think trying natural alternatives to Cytopoint is worth considering.

Owners need to think seriously before choosing these drugs, but there is no perfect answer; each situation is different and shouldn’t be judged by others.

Moose’s Story:

After a year of trying everything I could think of – raw diet, acupuncture, chiropractic, supplements, you name it, my dog was still miserable.

Moose was a rescue that came into our care at age 10, so had many years of sub-par nutrition and neglect which had worn down his immune system.

As he approached a level of misery where we had to consider euthanasia, I broke down and tried Apoquel.

It helped – relieved the miserable itching that was so severe he would cry some days as he itched. He regained some quality of life for a year (still itchy but less severe), and then…he was diagnosed with cutaneous lymphoma.

Do I think the Apoquel allowed this to happen? Absolutely. And it tears me apart.

But I also know that he was miserable, and I had spent literally thousands of dollars trying everything I could think of trying to avoid this drug. I try not to “what if” and live in guilt – but that’s easier said than done.

Conventional Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy

Conventional allergy testing consists of either serum testing (blood is tested for elevated levels of IgE antibodies of specific allergens) or allergy immunotherapy (dog is injected with small amounts of many allergens and their skin is watched for reactions).

Serum testing is less expensive but has more false positives than immunotherapy. Even immunotherapy, the gold standard, is far from perfect: only 50-80% of dogs undergoing treatment experience at least 50% improvement after 2-12 months. Cost may be a prohibitive factor.

Sad faced golden retriever puppy needing home remedies for dog allergies
Photo by Bruno Cervera from Pexels

Making Sense of Home Remedies for Dog Allergies

Learning how to treat dog allergies naturally takes time and patience.

My hope is that if you are reading this article, your dog’s allergies are somewhat “new” and that using natural remedies for your dog’s allergies will reward you and your pet with decreased itching and diminished allergies over time.

happy smiling dog whose allergies were successfully treated with a natural alternative to cytopoint

Even with some of my rescued dogs, whose allergies have had years and years to become firmly entrenched in their systems, I’ve had a number of them who improved more each year as their health and immune system grew stronger from a healthy diet and supplements.

When treating dog allergies, home remedies take time to be effective. Owners need to remember that there is no quick fix for allergies: it may take weeks, or even months, until you start to see positive results.

Natural allergy treatment for dogs requires dedication, willingness, patience, and financial commitment to experiment with different therapies until you find a solution.

For those of you who want to read more and like having a good reference book in the house, this book will help you understand what is causing your dog’s itching and gives ideas for different diets as well:

The Allergic Pet by Deva Khalsa book cover

The Allergic Pet: Holistic Solutions to End the Allergy Epidemic in Our Dogs and Cats








If your dog is really suffering, combining traditional medications with natural remedies for dog allergies may be necessary in the short term in order for your long-term natural treatment to take hold and slowly eliminate the allergies by strengthening your dog’s immune system and overall constitution.

Through the trial and error of different home remedies for dog allergies, and the slow and steady progress it will support, you can help your dog become healthier, and hopefully, allergy-free.

Now for the best part of all: tell me your stories.

  • What kind of allergies or intolerances has your pet experienced?
  • What things that you tried worked, and what didn’t?
  • How long did you try each thing before seeing results?

Let’s share our knowledge with each other – it’s the best way to learn.

Looking forward to your comments!

Naturally,

Karen

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Karen Pedersen Written by:

Karen is an independent copywriter who loves dogs and everything about them. She is married to Scott, has 4 kids, and likes to take a natural and holistic approach to living and pet ownership.

4 Comments

  1. Gail
    October 9, 2019
    Reply

    Is there a specific probiotic that you might recommend to try for the first time. Eddie, my 55 lbs Golden/Herding mix has just finished 90 days of Itroconazole to treat a fungal infection. His immune system could use a boost.

    • October 9, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Gail, when my golden retriever had horrible skin allergies caused from a low functioning immune system I consulted with Elaine Reinhardt, nutritional consultant at Reinhardt Ranch Holistic Nutrition Center for Pets in Elk Grove, California. She recommended RX Biotic, by RX Vitamins. Hope that helps!

  2. Crystal Muncy
    December 11, 2022
    Reply

    My beagle mix was born with dermadeptic mange her first 3 months she was on ivermectin. Now usually in summer sometimes fall she starts licking her paws constantly,scratching. all over licking all over biting till she has raw scabby spots when it gets bad we have take her vet for cyto point injection . I cut her dry food back which is a grain free, high protein food and started cooking chicken,green beans , carrots and sweet potatoes and adding it to her dry food..
    She’s now going thru her allergy stage I don’t know what i need to use to help her so we don’t have go get the cyto point injection.

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