Before we begin, it should be noted that skin problems in dogs are often a sign of a problem that is going on in the dog’s immune system. Did you know that in the US, the #1 reason people take their pets to the veterinarian is because of skin problems? The skin is the largest organ of the body. Traditional veterinary medicine views the skin as something separate from the rest of the body, and this is a misconception.
Within a holistic point of view, the skin exists as a complex organ that communicates to the entire body through pathways of energy that include the nervous system, the kidneys, the liver, as well as the digestive and immune systems.
The Common Approach of Treating Dog Skin Problems
A standard approach for treating skin problems in dogs is to take steps to relieve the symptoms of the skin problem, not address what is causing it. For example, administering antibiotics, anti-fungals, immunosuppressants and corticosteroids is a common course of action. However, the problem with this is that the cause of the condition is usually not addressed, and the dog as an individual is not always taken into consideration. For example, the standard course of care given is the same for a terrier as it is for a German shepherd, despite the different diets, environment, stress level or toxic load the two may have.
Traditional allopathic medicine often depletes the immune system and produces inflammation throughout the dog’s body. Unwanted consequences of treating skin conditions with traditional methods often include the development of food sensitivities, lessened function of the liver and pancreas, arthritis, autoimmune disease, leaky gut syndrome and arthritis.
An Alternative Approach
To treat chronic skin issues at their core, it takes time and consistency. Treating the cause of the imbalance becomes the focus. Then the body will fall back into alignment and heal the skin. However, this could take up to a year to happen by itself.
To support a skin-balancing program, plenty of fresh air, exercise, chiropractic care and massage is a great start. Proper diet and the use of flower essences are also very helpful. Through daily massage, nutrients are brought to the skin, oils are dispersed throughout, and toxins are excreted. Supplementation can also play an important part in supporting liver function and achieving balance within the body. Be sure that your dog’s diet includes the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, probiotics and essential fatty acids.
According to canine herbalist, Rita Hogan, there are several herbs that can be used to help dogs with skin problems.
- To Bring Down Swelling: Aswagandha
Simmer aswagandha leaves for 5 minutes and use them in a poultice to bring down swelling. Used internally, it acts as an anti-inflammatory and supports the nervous system.
- For Hair Loss and Dry Skin: Burdock Root
Make a decoction of burdock root and let it cool. Pour it over the affected area. Used internally, burdock root acts as a body cleanser, supports the liver and balances the hormones.
- To Treat Hot Spots, Sores and Ulcers: Chickweed
Simmer chickweed leaves to make a poultice to bring relief to hot spots, tissue that is ulcerated, sores on the skin. Chickweed has a cooling, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic effect.
- To Calm Inflammation and Stop Bleeding or Weeping: Nettles
Fresh juice that comes from nettles can be used to calm inflamed areas on your dog’s skin and to stop weeping and light bleeding.
- To Treat Burns, Itching and Insect Bites: Yellow Dock
Boil yellow dock leaves and roots to create a decoction. After cooling, yellow dock can be used to soothe burns, as well as calm itching and insect bites.
In conclusion, there are many helpful herbs that can be used to support healing of skin problems in dogs. If the skin is viewed as an integral organ, it can be used to help prevent disease before it has the opportunity to spread through the body. Instead of simply treating the symptoms, a new approach should be taken that involves dietary adjustments, supplementation, and herbal/homeopathic medicine given over time.