A persistent itch can feel awful, and the worst thing is that our furry friends can’t tell us exactly what’s going on. Did they eat something they shouldn’t have? Or did they get beat by some insect? Or is it fleas? Bacterial overgrowth or infections? Or just too much grass pollen in the air?
We’ll get into all the possible causes and symptoms in just a moment. But first, to give you some peace of mind, know that hemp can help. Hemp seed oil, hemp CBD oil and hemp protein are three wonderful natural products that can be very helpful in managing the symptoms of allergies and sensitive skin, whatever the cause.
What are some of the causes of why your pet feels itchy-scratchy?
Contact Allergies (hypersensitivity to grass/tree/flower pollen or coming in direct contact with mould and toxic chemicals)
Food Allergies to an ingredient in their food (protein, soy, corn, food colourants, preservatives, etc.)
Acute allergic reaction to eating something they shouldn’t have – flies, mosquitos, spiders, ants, cockroaches, etc.
Atopic Dermatitis in response to bacterial overgrowth (microbial colonisation with Staphylococcus or Malassezia) or fungal infections
The dry indoor environment during cold/hot months due to heaters and air conditioners.
Symptoms that need your attention:
- Alopecia (hair loss).
- Skin rashes, hot spots and hives.
- Red, flaky or scaly skin.
- Excessive licking and scratching that leads to self-trauma like bleeding and lesions.
If these symptoms are also accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea and unusually mellow or lethargic behaviour, you should see a vet right away to make sure there isn’t a bigger issue that needs immediate, fast-acting treatment.
How can hemp help?
To help your dog with an over-reactive immune response to allergens, you could look at immunotherapy and anti-histamines, avoid the allergen and try hemp (CBD) or hemp seed oil.
Hemp Seed Oil
In human studies, the consumption of hemp seed oil was clinically proven effective in improving the symptoms of atopic dermatitis (itchy skin, sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis). The improvements resulted from the optimal balance and abundant supply of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-6 and Omega-3) in hempseed oil.
As a natural, dietary anti-inflammatory agent, hemp seed oil can help reduce skin inflammation, modulate a healthy immune response to allergens and invaders that make your pet feel itchy and sensitive, and boost their first line of defence, the skin barrier. Hemp seed oil can also be applied topically to the itchy areas, providing soothing relief.
Consider changing to 100% natural grooming products with hemp seed oil for sensitive or itchy skin. Note, though, that not every shampoo with hemp seed oil is automatically a natural product. Check that your hemp seed oil shampoo or conditioner product doesn’t have sulphates (emulsifier and foaming agent) and parabens (chemical preservatives) on the list of ingredients, as they could irritate skin or trigger an allergic reaction and make things even worse.
If your pet struggles with chronic itchy skin or sensitive skin, adding hemp seed oil to your dog’s diet and grooming routine can help support their skin and coat health. At BuddyPet, we recommend Marley dietary supplement and 100% natural dog shampoo products like Poppy for dogs with itchy skin and Maisie for dogs with sensitive skin.
For more information about the unique benefits of hemp seed oil for pets, the basis of all products in the current BUDDYPET range, look at our Hemp Seed Oil Fact Sheet and read GLA - hemp seed oil’s secret weapon to fight inflammation.
Hemp Seed Protein
Nutrition plays a crucial role in overall skin health. What’s on the inside is on the outside. Hence, improving gut health will improve skin health.
One of the best things you can do to improve your pet’s gut health is to increase the microbial diversity in their gut by feeding them foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (friendly bacteria) that can help increase the diversity of the gut microbiome, and prebiotics is the food those microorganisms like to eat.
Hemp seed protein is a natural prebiotic that gut bacteria love to eat! It offers a significant amount of soluble and insoluble fibre. The carbohydrate content of the seed (about 27%) is primarily fibre; as such, hemp seed protein is an excellent source of dietary fibre to feed your dog’s microbiome to promote healthy digestion and thus improve skin health.
Consider adding BUDDYPET Cooper hemp seed protein to your pet’s diet to support gut health to help calm itchy skin.
For dogs that suffer from atopic dermatitis due to gut inflammation, we recommend BUDDYPET Milly. A delicious blend of hemp seed oil and turmeric in Milly can help tame the inflammation involved in intestinal inflammatory diseases, thus improving intestinal barrier function and, ultimately, skin function.
Hemp CBD Oil
CBD oil is derived from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant, hence why it’s often called hemp oil. It is a natural botanical extract that works through the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of cannabinoid receptors located primarily throughout the brain, central nervous system and immune system that act in neural communication. ECS plays a crucial role in maintaining skin "homeostasis." Studies indicate that the endocannabinoid system can help support this balance by regulating skin cell proliferation and survival, among other things. Some studies go so far as to suggest that fine-tuning the ECS in the skin is key to promoting skin healing and regeneration.
Pets have a highly developed ECS system; hence treating inflammatory skin conditions is very effective with hemp CBD oil.
For more information about the health benefits of hemp CBD oil, please read our Ultimate Guide to CBD Oil for Pets.
Please note that currently, the only legal distribution of CBD products is by veterinarians under prescribing rights and for research purposes only. Any other supply of CBD products for animal use in Australia is illegal, except for S4 CBD oil products (medical cannabis) approved and registered with TGA for off-label use. Talk to your vet if you are looking for a high-quality TGA-approved CBD product for pets.
For additional insights on skincare, please read our article How to Treat and Prevent Itchy Skin.