Close this search box.

Share Article

Itchy Pet? Holistic Hacks for Skin Health

Allergies in cats and dogs are one of the most common reasons for veterinary visits.

Symptoms often manifest on the skin, resulting in itching with inflammation, bad odor and painful hot spots. Pets may scratch, lick, or bite the affected areas thereby exacerbating the condition. Anal glands and ears are often involved in the process. Respiratory symptoms and watery itchy eyes can also be a part of the picture.

Allergies are a huge stressor – not just for your pet but also to you as the pet parent. I remember a dog patient who had been plagued by allergies for years. When the itching finally stopped, she slept for 2 days straight because the constant itch had caused sleep deprivation.

“WHY?” – Look for the Root Cause

Because allergies have a tendency to worsen as the years go by, it’s best to address them as soon as they appear.

But just like every other symptom, they are ONLY a sign of an UNDERLYING ROOT CAUSE! They are just the tip of the iceberg.

Understanding this and addressing the root cause is your pet’s only chance to resolve allergies. Chasing after symptoms and trying to fix them is just like putting a piece of duct tape on your car engine light and getting stranded on the side of the road later on. Therefore the most logical question has to be “WHY IS THAT?”

Allergic reactions occur due to an adverse immune response to harmless substances, meaning the immune system is reacting inappropriately to something that doesn’t normally cause harm. Take pollens for example. They’ve been part of everyone’s life since nearly the beginning of time. The body shouldn’t react to those. In other words, your pets (and you) should not have seasonal allergies.

But WHY is the immune system acting out?

It All Starts in the Gut!

Eighty percent of the immune system is located in the GI tract!

Gut microbes are the primary educators of a puppy and kitten’s immune system. They train the immune system to respond appropriately and distinguish between good and bad. If there is a disturbance in that early life process, the immune system isn’t trained correctly and will mistake harmless substances as harmful.

But even later on in life, chronic GI inflammation can also disturb the immune system and result in overstimulation.

Any time the gut is inflamed and leaky, the immune system also spreads inflammation elsewhere including the skin. That then causes a disruption of the skin barrier, setting up a perfect milieu for skin inflammation and local dysbiosis.

Thus the majority of skin conditions are the result of an unhealthy, leaky gut combined with dysbiosis.

What hurts the gut?

  • Poor diet
  • Food sensitivity
  • Chronic low-grade infections: dysbiosis, yeast, parasites
  • Lack of enzymes and stomach acid (acid-blocking meds, zinc deficiency)
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Toxins (mercury, mold, agricultural chemicals, etc.)
  • Vaccines
  • Drugs (NSAIDS, steroids, antibiotics, chemo, radiation, preventatives)
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Probiotics, prebiotics
  • EMFs

Now that we looked at the main root cause, let’s not forget about other contributors to itching, because not everything is an allergy. Therefore, let’s…

Test – Don’t Guess!

Itchiness and skin conditions in general can be caused by any number of things:

  • Environmental allergens
  • Ectoparasites parasites (fleas, mites and lice)
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection (incl. yeast)
  • Dry skin
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Food sensitivity

The ONLY way to find the root cause is to conduct a thorough investigation. Simply assuming that a “Fritos” smell equals yeast overgrowth may mislead you to incorrectly treat your pet and prolong their suffering.

And just because they aren’t showing signs of gut issues doesn’t mean the GI tract is healthy.

Tests I Run

Here are the basic tests I run when dealing with an allergic pet:

  • General labs (CBC, Chem, Urine, Parasites)
  • Food sensitivity – Nutriscan
  • Microbiome – AnimalBiome
  • Hormones – NVDS
  • Vitamin D – VDI

They tell me what I need to know to come up with a plan of action.


Treatment of Allergies

Traditional veterinary medicine often treats allergic reactions with steroids, antihistamines, antibiotics and various other drugs such as Cytopoint and Apoquel. While these treatments may quell the symptoms and secondary conditions, they don’t address the root cause of the reaction and are often accompanied by unwanted side effects.

Holistic pet care on the other hand focuses on finding and treating the root cause of the imbalance in the pet’s immune system that leads to allergies. The holistic approach addresses all 7 Pillars of Health  and ranges from diet alterations, gut healing, detox, hormonal support, environmental changes, acupuncture, to herbal supplementation.

Since each pet is unique, no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Each individual pet may require different therapies or combinations, and this calls for a process of trial and error to attain successful outcomes.


Holistic Allergy Care for Pets

A holistic pet care approach prioritizes the overall health of the pet, with a specific focus on gut health and immune system functioning. At the same time, we also need to alleviate your pet’s discomfort, because discomfort equals stress and stress interferes with healing. A holistic vet, like myself, can provide information and holistic formulations to assist with this.

Several steps can be taken to enhance your pet’s overall health and minimize allergic reactions:

  1. Eradicate parasites like fleas and ticks. Ideally you would use natural deterrents, but it may not be sufficent to provide relief for an allergic animal. If you need to go with a drug alternative, avoid all Isoxazoline formulations at all cost. Regular vacuuming indoors and cleaning up areas in your yard where fleas gather can reduce the incidence. More helpful tips can be found in this video.
  2. Soothe skin lesions and irritations with calming baths and natural therapies. Regular baths with a gentle shampoo, coconut oil, lavender and chamomile are excellent options for irritated skin. Aloe vera gel, calendula, thyme, apple cider vinegar, witch hazel and Epsom salt soaks can be used topically to relieve irritations. Ion Skin spray is a great way to restore integrity of the skin barrier.
  3. Adjust your pet’s diet to boost its immune system. Reduce carbohydrates and avoid artificial colors and flavors. A species appropriate balanced raw food diet is recommended for allergic pets. Alternatives are lightly cooked or freeze-dried formulations for those with a more sensitive GI tract.
  4. Supplements to heal the gut (Ion Gut, enzymes, Betaine HCl, prebiotics) and restore microbial balance (Gut Restore for dogs and cats) as well as supplements aiding detoxification are highly beneficial to heal the root cause.
  5. Immune system supplements like ginseng, echinacea, omega 3 essential fatty acids, and vitamins may be valuable. Local raw honey can support the immune system and act as an “allergy vaccine”.
  6. Natural anti-inflammatories like licorice root, nettles, palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), CBD oil and plant sterols may help with immune system reactions.
  7. Natural antihistamines such as quercetin, bromelain, and turmeric as well as edible mushrooms can temper the immune system.
  8. Eliminate foods your pet is sensitive to.
  9. Minimize exposure to allergens. Wipe down your pet’s feet and fur after they’ve been outdoors. Some dogs also benefit from wearing well-fitting booties.
  10. Avoid vaccines because they stimulate the immune system. Ask your vet to write a medical exemption for your dog or cat.
  11. Acupuncture therapy can restore immune system balance and benefit pets with allergies.

Efficacy of Holistic Allergy Care in Pets

Allergies are often challenging to turn around and take a lot of dedication and patience on your part. It may take several weeks or months to heal your pet. Combining traditional medications with holistic therapy may be necessary at the start while you work with holistic therapies for a long-term resolution.

Healing Success

With time your pet can heal just like these two lovely patients of mine:



Ask about Dr. Suter’s signature Holistic Pet Health & Longevity Method Program to fast track your pet’s health.

Are you struggling with healing your pet’s allergies? My Holistic Pet Health & Longevity Method Program is specifically designed with you in mind. This program offers ongoing support directly from me, Dr. Odette Suter. Through my program I will personally guide you through every detail of restoring your pet’s gut and immune system.  You’ll receive truly holistic veterinary support from me with advice and solutions specifically tailored to your pet. Through my educational videos, live weekly Q&A sessions and the exclusive members’ platform you’ll gain confidence and become more empowered in your pet’s care. You’ll find peace in the knowledge that you’re addressing your pet’s health challenges at their core.


Book a call now and learn how my program can transform your approach to pet care with the continuous, personalized support you need. Schedule your call here to learn more: Holistic Pet Health & Longevity Method Application

Join the community!

Get expert holistic advice directly from Dr. Odette Suter, DVM right to your inbox.


Subscribe to my FREE Newsletter and take control of your pet’s holistic health.

Newsletter (Popup)