This article is not a substitute for veterinary diagnosis or treatment of any condition, symptom, or disease. Please consult with your veterinarian if your dog is suffering from any troubling symptoms.
If your dog is suffering from dry, itchy, or patchy, skin, the problem may be allergies.
This article will explore the different types of allergies in dogs as well as the scientific backing for the use of CBD oil for these problems. Whether your dog’s skin problems are from a food allergy or contact allergy, read on to learn more about how this natural remedy might be right for your furry friend.
Skin Allergies in Dogs: Contact Dermatitis and Food Allergies
There are two basic types of allergies in mammals that can cause major skin irritations.
Our canine companions can develop a hypersensitivity to certain chemicals, molds, pollens, flea bites, topical medications, and other foreign substances that come in contact with the skin. This type of allergic reaction is known as contact dermatitis. For example, some dogs are allergic to flea bites and can develop flea dermatitis as a result.
If your dog has a food allergy or sensitivity, certain ingredients may later manifest in the form of itchy and irritated skin. The symptoms may be mild, such as extra licking on the paws, or severe, such as hair loss or skin infections from persistent licking and scratching.
The symptoms of dog skin allergies can vary. They may come and go, as is the case with seasonal pollen allergies. Symptoms can also be chronic.
Common symptoms include:
- Excessive licking, scratching, or biting of a specific area
- Dry, flakey, or irritated areas of skin
- Rash or sores on the skin
- Hair loss over patches of skin
- Excessive licking or biting of paws, groin, or tail areas
It can be very difficult to diagnose exactly the substance your dog is allergic to. Although there are veterinary-approved skin allergy tests, the list of potential allergens is practically infinite. Determining what your pooch is having a reaction to can be a long process of trial and error.
[Picture of dog flea allergy dermatitis below]
Traditional Treatments for Skin Allergies in Dogs
If the allergen can be identified, the first line of treatment will be prevention. However, if the allergen cannot be identified, your dog may require additional medical attention. Depending on the severity of symptoms, your vet may prescribe:
- Oral or topical corticosteroids
- Antihistamines or other immune-suppressing medications
- Oral or topical antibiotics to prevent or treat infected skin
While all of these medications certainly have their place, they all carry potential side effects if used over the long term. For example, antibiotics can destroy healthy gut flora causing digestion problems. Immune-suppressing drugs can compromise your canine’s ability to fight off infection and other diseases. Corticosteroids can cause thinning of the skin, weight gain, hypertension, and behavioral changes when used long-term.
Many dog owners and holistic veterinarians, leery of over-medicating their dogs and doing more harm than good, have turned to natural remedies to relieve skin problems associated with dog allergies.
CBD Oil for Dog Allergies: Potential Remedy for Itchy Skin
CBD oil is one of the biggest trends in natural supplements for dogs (and people. The reason for the trend isn’t just marketing hype. In fact, there have now been hundreds of studies on the healing properties of cannabis-based products. In fact, CBD oil, also called cannabidiol, has been the subject of many research studies in relation to skin health, in particular.
Let’s look at the science behind CBD oil, a home remedy for itchy skin that works both topically and orally.
The Endocannabinoid System
Before we get into the research on CBD oil specifically, one thing you need to understand is that all mammals, including your furry friend, have an endocannabinoid system, also known as the ECS. This system includes receptors, transmitters, and special enzymes found in the central and peripheral nervous systems, throughout the skin, and in the gut.
Discovered in the early 1990s, research in the last few decades has demonstrated that the ECS plays a vital role in regulating a large number of bodily processes. Among them are skin health, pain, inflammation responses, immune system function, and gut health. Each of these processes plays a role in allergic symptoms in dogs.
Cannabidiol is one of the hundreds of compounds found in hemp, a special variety of the cannabis plant that is safe for your pet, and non-intoxicating. Let’s take a closer look at how CBD found in hemp oil can activate the ECS to improve key symptoms:
It may surprise you to learn that the ECS plays a vital role in skin health, but that is precisely what dermatologists have learned from 20 years of research. In fact, the ECS has become a target for several skin disorders including psoriasis, eczema, skin cancer, and atopic dermatitis.
It turns out that the skin is packed with neural receptors that regulate important skin functions such as skin cell growth, cell death, and skin moisture. Many of these receptors are responsive to cannabinoids such as CBD as well as endocannabinoids which the body produces on its own.
Pain and Inflammation
One of the most well-researched benefits of cannabidiol is its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Since both properties could benefit skin problems caused by allergies in dogs, it stands to reason that CBD for dog allergies may be helpful for your dog’s skin allergy symptoms.
In fact, as one study shows CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can be particularly helpful in cases involving contact dermatitis by activating CB2 receptors in the skin’s ECS.
Inflammation at the site of a rash from either contact or food allergies is what causes the irritation and itching that make your pooch lick, bite, and scratch for relief. Eventually, those behaviors can turn the area into an open wound that gets infected. Luckily, CBD has also been shown to have antibacterial properties too!
There is research to support the use of CBD oil for a variety of stomach issues in dogs. Cannabidiol has been shown to improve gut motility, maintain and even repair the intestinal barrier, and support the brain-gut axis, a vital communication network related to the central nervous system’s role in immune responses and metabolic functions.
In some cases, dry and itchy skin in dogs can be caused by food sensitivities. Such cases can be particularly difficult to diagnose. While expensive limited ingredient diets can sometimes be used in combination with an elimination trial to identify the ingredients that trigger reactions, some dogs struggle with persistent skin problems related to poor gut health or sensitive stomachs.
Many holistic vets and dog owners have found that CBD oil can be very effective at relieving the symptoms in such cases. This all-natural remedy is safe for your dog, has no known serious side effects, and may help if poor skin from unknown food allergies is the root cause.
Talk to Your Vet
It is important that if your canine companion is suffering from chronic patches of red, dry, or itchy skin, you make an appointment with your veterinarian. Although the cause may be a contact or food allergy, it also may be a warning sign of something else that could require a more extensive medical treatment, such as an autoimmune dysfunction.
In addition, if your dog is receiving other medications, it is important to work with your vet to make sure hemp oil won’t cause any unwanted interactions. Since it uses some of the same metabolic pathways as other drugs, CBD can sometimes block and in other cases enhance the way other drugs are metabolized (similar to grapefruit).
If you decide that all-natural CBD products for skin allergies in your dog is worth a try, consider choosing Lolahemp. We offer a full-spectrum CBD oil made from 100% organic hemp. We have worked with a veterinarian to formulate our hemp oil with our canine companions in mind. In addition, we pursue our founder’s commitment to animal welfare by donating one bottle for every four sold to a rescue dog in need.