Michael Goldberg, DVM, CHom
Dear Dr Goldberg:My golden retriever, Tundra has dry skin and constantly itche.
Dear Dr Goldberg:
My golden retriever, Tundra has dry skin and constantly itches. Is there a homeopathic remedy suitable for dogs with dry skin?
PS: I am 10 years old and in the future, I would like to become a homeopathic vet.
First, I wish you all the best in reaching your dream. It's one of the most fulfilling professions and it sounds like you'll make a great homeopathic vet!
There are many reasons that dogs in general tend to have dry, itchy skin. Allergies to foods, inhaled allergens, contact allergens and parasites such as fleas, are very common. I have also noticed a number of cases arise after vaccination. Thyroid conditions are also possible contributors to skin disease along with nutritional reasons. Some of these issues are best worked through with the help of a reliable veterinarian who may elect to do some blood testing as well as treating with supplements and remedies.
An easy way of keeping fleas at bay is to use a lemon spray that can either be purchased or made at home. Boil a few litres of water and simmer in lemons to create an infusion. This can be useful as a flea preventive.
Often raw food diets with no additives are more "skin friendly" than commercial foods. I recommend following a recipe from Dr Pitcairn's Guide to Natural Health of Dogs and Cats (Rodale Press). This book also has instructions on how to make a lemon infusion for flea spray.
For dry, itchy skin it is always helpful to begin a course of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements. A good ratio to begin with is 3:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 freshly pressed oils. You may get good quality products at your favourite health food store.
Oatmeal shampoos are a very simple way of relieving the itch for short periods of time.
Homeopathic Remedies Help
Sulphur is very common as a remedy for skin problems. If there is a "doggy" odour and the dog is thin, confident but lazy and has dry itchy skin with or without any red eruption, then you should try this remedy in 6C potency given daily for two weeks or until the dog is doing better. If there is improvement discontinue the remedy until the condition reappears.
Silica can be useful if your dog is timid and shy and there are small red itchy eruptions. Again, you can use this remedy in 6C potency on a daily basis.
Graphite is a good remedy when there are honey-coloured discharges that are sticky in nature. There may be slow healing of skin eruptions as well. The pet may be chilly and tends toward obesity.
Thuja is an excellent remedy if the problem has arisen after a vaccination. I recommend 200C every 12 hours for three treatments.
Rhus tox is another very useful remedy for itchy skin with red eruptions. There is usually a high intensity of itchiness which may be accompanied with intense restlessness, worse at night and moving from one place to another. You may give this remedy in 6C potency once daily.
Most of the skin cases that I see are of a chronic nature that have been treated for long periods with antibiotics. In this situation it is probably wise to search out a homeopathic veterinarian in your area.
Address letters to the Pet Vet, 7436 Fraser Park Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5J 5B9.