The only thing more certain than a dog getting flea bites is the guarantee that he'll scratch and bite at them. This can cause thickening of the skin, which dries it out. This, in turn, leads to even itchier skin.
If you don't have time to set up a vet appointment to get anti-itch medicine or go to a pet store to find relief for your pet, you can try a number of home remedies for itchy skin caused by flea bites and other issues. Learning about flea bite relief for dogs will not only help your pet, but it will also protect you, your family, and guests from these nasty intruders.
Visit your vet first
You can use a variety of well-known homeopathic skin remedies for dogs, but depending on what is causing your dog's skin problem (one of the sores might not be caused by fleas), you might irritate your pet's skin further. Before you try any homemade flea treatment for dogs, contact your vet.
If you have a smartphone with a camera that takes clear pictures, set up a virtual visit with your vet and attach one or more images you've taken. If your vet needs a closer look, he'll ask you to come in. If the picture is enough, he can make a diagnosis and suggest a home remedy over the phone. If the problem is more serious, you might need a prescription for topical or oral medicine.
If you don't have a vet, call your groomer or pet sitter if she's certified or licensed.
Natural remedy options
Try apple cider vinegar, recommends the Animal Health Foundation. Fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 50 percent organic, raw apple cider vinegar and 50 percent water and spray directly on the wound. If your dog has multiple areas that itch, treat one first and wait about 30 minutes to see how your dog's skin reacts. If there's no ill effect and the vinegar seems to have done the trick, treat the rest of the dog's sores. Keep the spray bottle with your other pet care items for future use.
Try giving your dog a soothing bath with an additive. Avoid hot water, which can rob skin of its natural lipids and further dry out itchy skin. Use a lukewarm temperature that doesn't make your dog shiver or you'll have a hard time keeping her in the tub. You can try a number of dips, rubs, and washes, suggests American Kennel Club Pet Insurance. Try adding chamomile tea, calendula, or green tea. Other additives you can try include citronella, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus.
Before you treat the dog's entire body with a bath, try a small amount of your water and additive on one area of the dog and see how his skin reacts after 30 minutes or so. If the topical application works, try the bath.
Instead of a bath, you can try topical ointments you make at home, using ingredients such as coconut oil. Don't use aloe vera without consulting your vet – applied incorrectly and ingested by your dog, it can be mildly toxic and cause diarrhea and vomiting, warns the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Instead of an ointment, you can try a natural poultice, such as a mixture of water with either baking soda, corn starch, or oatmeal. You'll probably need to cover the poultice with a bandage or wrap to prevent the dog from licking it off. If the poultice works, try more, or give your dog a water and colloidal oatmeal bath.
Prevent flea bites in the first place
Just because you've helped your dog relieve its itchy skin this time doesn't mean the problem won't happen again – and again and again. Take steps to try and head off the problem with some preventive measures.
Adding garlic to your dog's food gets the strong aromatic into his bloodstream. When one flea bites your dog, it tastes the garlic and sends a message to other fleas, "Stay away from this dog." Add a little garlic at a time to your pet's food see how your dog reacts to the taste.
Giving your dog omega-3 fatty acid — found in coldwater fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines — can help restore natural oils to a dog's coat and provide an anti-inflammatory boost, according to the ASPCA.
Keep your dog properly hydrated. Dehydration is a leading cause of dry skin, which can make flea sores even itchier.
Use a flea comb or brush to remove them before they get too bad. You don't need warning signs to start using a flea brush or to start removing fleas from your dog's fur with other tools. If you wait until your dog starts scratching, you might have waited too long. Watching TV with your pet? Why not take the opportunity to use this downtime to inspect and comb or brush the dog to prevent flea-related problems. This preventive measure is especially important if you've just taken your dog to the dog park, to a doggy daycare center, a vet's office, or anywhere else it's interacted with other dogs.
Talk to your vet about flea collars and flea powders that prevent these pests. They aren't home remedies, but you might be able to find natural options. The same goes for dog shampoos. Avoid those cleaners with scents or alcohol, which can dry skin and make itching worse. Let shampoos stay on your dog for 10 minutes to get into the skin before rinsing.
Beware of flea tags that promise to ward off multiple insects using some sort of electronic or magnetic wave technology — make sure their claims have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Association or Federal Trade Commission.
If you have carpeting in your home, treat it with a flea powder, follow the directions (which often includes letting it sit for a while to kill fleas), and then vacuum up the dead pests.
If you're a gardener and have diatomaceous earth in your garage or shed, sprinkle that on the carpet. This all-natural product kills many different types of pests and is organic. Let it sit for two or three days before vacuuming, recommends DogTime.com. If you have children, cats, or other pets that will be walking, crawling, or playing on your floors, talk to your pediatrician or vet to make sure whatever you are cleaning your floors with is safe for kids and other pets.
Another way to prevent fleas is to reduce conditions that allow them to proliferate. In your yard, get rid of standing water which is a good breeding ground for insects, including blood-sucking mosquitos. Fix holes in fences that let feral animals into your yard. Keep your lawn mowed and shrubs trimmed to provide less habitat for fleas and other pests.
If you're bringing a new dog home, wait to try any preventive measures on carpets, bedding, or other items so that your dog has a chance to get used to all of the different scents and smells in its new house without being overwhelmed. You also might not realize what is causing an allergic reaction if you've made several changes to your house before your pet arrives.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.