Dog Skin Care 101: How To Address Fleas and Ticks

April 24, 2024

Written By: Earth Buddy Team

Black, white & brown King Charles Cavalier in grass. Dogs shed sometimes due to itchy skin so try CBD balm for dogs now.

Your dog’s skin is their largest organ making dog skin care a crucial part of maintaining your pup’s overall health. Unfortunately, parasites like fleas and ticks can make this a tough task. There are all sorts of traditional flea and tick repellent products, but they contain toxic ingredients, and walking into the supplement world can feel overwhelming with all the options. Learning what to avoid, along with what could help, is key when attempting to help your pet with their flea and tick infestation and supporting the health of their skin.

Discovering a Problem With Your Dog’s Skin Health and Hair Growth

Keeping an eye on your dog’s actions, like how much they groom or scratch themselves, is important. Dogs often have certain spots they scratch or lick more than others, especially if there are certain spots that are causing occasional discomfort.

They might keep scratching their elbows, licking their feet a lot, chewing on their paws, or rubbing their face on the carpet or couch. At first, this might not seem like a big deal and just something dogs do. But, these behaviors can be the first hints that your dog is uncomfortable, especially if they’re chewing so frequently they’re interrupting their hair growth.

Warnings About Flea and Tick Meds For Dog Skin Care

Blonde Samoyed dogs shed quite often due to their thick coat. Supplementing colostrum for dogs can improve itchy skin.

The Office of the Attorney General in Washington D.C. has given clear warnings about flea and tick medications. They are specifically concerned with those that contain a compound known as tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP). If you’re wondering if the products containing this compound kills a dog’s fleas and ticks, the answer is– yes, but it comes with a cost. TVCP is incredibly toxic, even in small amounts, and is dangerous for both pets and their owners to be exposed to.

It’s important to note that it’s not just the liquid flea and tick medications that contain TCVP.  Flea and tick prevention collars, flea dust, and flea powders can all contain this toxic ingredient. To top it off, most of the time there’s no warning on the product. So don’t just skim over the product. Be sure to look carefully at the ingredients and do your research.

Providing Oral Pesticides To Your Dog

We’ve discussed topical flea and tick medication, but now it’s time to talk about the prescription chews and tablets. Most of the time these are presented as something tasty for your dog to prevent fleas and ticks from making your pup’s fur and skin their home. But here’s the problem: these often contain isoxazolines.

Scientifically, isoxazolines are a gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor antagonist. In simpler terms, this means they block your dog’s nerve signals to paralyze the fleas and ticks. Getting rid of these parasites is the goal, but with this type of product, not only are fleas and ticks in danger, your dog is too.

The ingredients to watch for in oral medications (you can also look for these in other products) include afoxolaner, lufenuron, fluralaner, sarolaner, lotilaner, spinosad, and sarolaner.

Choosing Natural Options for Skin Health

Black & white corgi with blue & brown eyes looking at a clear tube of Earth Buddy organic skin balm for itchy dog skin.

Natural options not only support skin and coat health, but often support and promote overall wellness as well. Fortunately, although not discussed as frequently as they should be, there are ways to help your dog without providing them with all the toxins found in traditional flea and tick products. We’ll discuss each individually.

Use Essential Oils For Dogs With Caution

High-quality, pure essential oils may aid in flea prevention, but they must be used with caution preferably under the supervision of a professional. While some are perfectly fine to dilute yourself with a carrier oil, others may not be recommended. A holistic vet can give you an idea of which ones you can choose from based on your individual dog’s needs and history.

If you’re wondering which essential oils are believed to help with fleas and ticks, here are the most common ones:

  • Bay leaf
  • Cedarwood
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Opoponax
  • Rosewood

But here’s the thing: essential oils may not be effective with severe infestations. If you recognize fleas and ticks continuing to wreak havoc on your dog’s body, it’s time to go back and discuss other options with your veterinarian.

Coconut Oil For Your Dog’s Hair and Skin

Chocolate Lab paws in grass holding a clear tube with blue label of Earth Buddy CBD skin & paw balm for itchy dog skin.

Coconut oil is renowned for its nutritional benefits and ability to repel fleas and ticks from dogs, thanks to a key component called lauric acid. This fatty acid works as a potent deterrent against these pests. In fact, some researchers have claimed it is even more effective than DEET.

The incorporation of coconut oil extends beyond serving as a pest-repellent. The compounds in coconut oil help achieve a soft, silky, shiny and healthy coat and support skin health, both of which are particularly beneficial during the dry winter months.

The application of coconut oil may help with occasional discomfort your dog may experience, especially when exposed to dry air and indoor heating. Coconut oil provides your dog with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, supplying nutrients for a healthy coat and supporting dogs with sensitive skin.

A Bath is a Good Idea For All Dog Breeds

A fresh, lukewarm bath can be a good preliminary step before applying any product, regardless of which one you choose. Not only will it remove debris, but the suds from the soap combined with the water can help get rid of some of the fleas. Warm baths may also help with occasional discomfort. Remember to thoroughly rinse your pup, keeping in mind that long-coated dogs retain more soap and water than others.

To wash your dog properly, use a gentle, pet-specific shampoo. Human shampoos may contain ingredients that your dog shouldn’t be exposed to and could damage the natural oils in their fur.

Vacuuming to Get Rid of Dead Hair, Dander, and Fleas

Black Mastiff dog with skin folds on his face. Earth Buddy’s CBD dog paw balm can also be used for irritated skin folds

Regular vacuuming is extremely important when it comes to battling flea infestations, and during such times, it may be necessary to vacuum your home more frequently than you typically would. This is especially true during times of seasonal shedding when your dog replaces their thick winter fur for their summer coat.

Fleas can lay eggs in carpets, rugs, upholstery, and even in small crevices on hard floors. These eggs can then develop into larvae and eventually mature into adult fleas, continuing the cycle of infestation. By vacuuming more often, you’re not only removing adult fleas but also targeting the eggs, larvae, and pupae that are nestled within the fibers of your carpets and furniture.

Vacuuming can stimulate pre-adult fleas to emerge from their cocoons prematurely due to the vibration, heat, and pressure, making them more susceptible to being captured by the vacuum cleaner or exposed to any flea treatment products you may apply afterward. After you’re done, it’s important to immediately dispose of the vacuum bag or empty the canister into a sealed bag and remove it from your home to prevent any captured fleas from escaping back into your living space.

Reduce the Risk of Ticks in Your Dog’s Coat

Ticks prefer to reside in long grasses, leaves, and other organic debris, so keeping your lawn mowed could reduce the tick population. If you have a long-haired dog, long grass is that much more likely to sweep up a tick as your pup walks by.

A well-maintained yard also allows for better sunlight penetration, which can help to dry out the grass and soil. Ticks prefer moist environments, so the drier conditions created by regular mowing can discourage their presence. By reducing the tick’s favorable living conditions right in your backyard, you essentially lower the chances of ticks coming into contact with your pets.

Add CBD Oil To Your Dog’s Skin Health Regimen

Black & white corgi taking a dropper of Earth Buddy’s organic cbd oil for dogs with itchy skin & dog’s spring allergies

Full-spectrum CBD for dogs, like the tinctures found at Earth Buddy, have a wide range of benefits that help keep dogs in peak condition, with one of the significant areas of impact being the health of their skin. The cannabinoids and other compounds in full-spectrum hemp extract support a healthy inflammatory response. By doing so, it may also help with occasional or seasonal allergies.

CBD for dogs also helps maintain normal histamine levels, soothes skin-related issues associated with seasonal allergies, and promotes the body’s innate resistance to pathogens. And, the nutrients, like omega-3 and omega-6, can also help achieve a soft, silky, shiny and healthy coat, ensuring your dog not only feels good but looks good too.

Read this article to learn more about how our colostrum and mushrooms for dogs can help improve irritated skin in dogs.

Earth Buddy also offers more comprehensive support for itchy skin dogs with our Immune Defense Pack for Large & Small Breed Dogs. By combining the prebiotic benefits of functional mushrooms for dogs and the gut microbiome benefits of colostrum for dogs, this bundle can fortify your dog’s gut health. By enhancing a dog’s gut health, this combination of mushrooms and colostrum will allow the dog’s natural immune response to better tolerate seasonal allergies and irritated skin problems.

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