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Natural Remedies for Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs

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by Sue Stevenson (subscribe)
I write essays, short stories and political commentary and believe the colour orange is unfairly discriminated against.
Published January 14th 2013
Canine dermatitis - help for your sanity
Dermatitis in dogs is stressful both for you and your pet. It's the constant licking that drives you both barmy. Your dog is licking his paws because they are so itchy from the dermatitis, and he thinks he is making it better because licking soothes his feet, but what he is actually doing is making it worse, so that when you lift up his paws they are red, licked almost raw.

Welcome to contact dermatitis.

Anyone who has a dog with this condition knows how stressful it can be. Working out where it's coming from can take time and be a process of deduction. In my case it was a common cause - the wandering jew (Commelina cyanea) in the garden. This is a common plant to cause allergies or contact irritation in dogs. The most common sites for itchy and red skin are the underbelly, ears, armpits and paws.

Commellina cyanea (wandering jew)

Several visits to the vet to fix the problem in my dog garnered the standard treatment - antibiotics and medicated shampoo (a secondary problem from dermatitis is often bacterial infections from all that licking). The problem with giving antibiotics for allergies is that it often proves a short-term fix. The reason the dog is reacting to a substance in the first place arises out of a depressed immune system. Antibiotics have their place, but they certainly don't strengthen the immune system, but only depress it further.

Creative commons licensed pic by Blumenbiene (

Whether the cause is seasonal allergens like pollens and the like, or deficiencies in diet, or your dog happens to be one of the reactive breeds that is prone to react to irritants, these reactions are an indication that your dog may need extra nutritional support. That's where spirulina comes in.

I noticed a difference in my dog after only three days of supplementing his diet with 3 grams of spirulina in his dinner (he is a 30kg dog) and dousing the irritated parts of his body with paw paw cream. I also cleared as much of the wandering jew away as I could from commonly-walked areas, and washed his feet whenever he made contact with the plant (this is very tedious but necessary).

Spirulina is a blue-green algae. Pond scum, basically. A most beneficial pond scum that is over 3 billion years old and which is a vegetarian's staple, being one of the highest sources of plant protein. Along with its 70% protein content, it's a Herculuic superfood stuffed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids, that is well worth adding to your dog's diet.

I take it myself. And now my dog does too.

A tip: if you put a pair of your own socks on your dog's feet to stop him licking, go for an old scungy pair. Not your favourite bamboo ones. Or better yet, buy him some of his own. Cheap, replaceable socks that your dog's skin can breathe through may be the answer for outdoors if your dog keeps getting reinfected).
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Why? Spirulina may ease your dog's dermatitis.
Your Comment
My 4yr old llasa has dermatitis, it has cost me nearly 3.000 to cure her demodex and try to eliviate her dermatitis in her paws but still she licks her paws raw, I have now put her on a raw feed diet and starting to try natural remedies instead of vets tablets
by mdola (score: 0|6) 2178 days ago
Can anybody tell me if spirulina works on dogs, and what is the dosage.
by moons (score: 0|6) 1979 days ago
Hi Sue, are you able to give me an update on how the treatment of your dog's AD is going. I've got a ridgeback with the same problem and am thinking of giving the spirulina a go. just wondering how you found it long term...did it work at all? much appreciated.
by johnl (score: 0|4) 2043 days ago
What shampoo do you use for this condition to keep from irritating further
by jt416 (score: 0|8) 1843 days ago
Thanks for sharing. Where can I get Spirulina? Is is pills or a powder. Also Pawtucket Paws ointment? Where can I purchase that? My daughters Mastiff itches, links and is just miserable in the summer. Thank you for the information.
by jt416 (score: 0|8) 1205 days ago
Thank. You I. Hope. This. Help
by jt416 (score: 0|8) 1021 days ago
what brand of paw paw and spirulina did you use?
by carol (score: 0|2) 691 days ago
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