Will Baking Soda Help My Dog Stop Itching? (Vet Explains)

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will baking soda help my dog stop itching

It’s heartbreaking to see your furbaby suffering. And when he’s itching non-stop, you want to find a way to relieve his discomfort.

What’s more, continual scratching can be self-perpetuating. The more your pup itches, the more he irritates his skin and causes it to release histamines. With repeated pawing, your pup could also damage his skin and leave it vulnerable to infections.

How can you help your furbaby? Some people recommend baking soda as an effective home remedy to relieve your dog’s itching. But does it work, and is it safe?

Let’s look at why you can use baking soda, the risks involved, and why it works. Then we’ll discuss how to use it and other options you can use to relieve itching.

Can I Use Baking Soda on My Dog to Stop the Itching?

Baking soda is an effective remedy for itching.  It has anti-inflammatory and calming effects that can help ease skin irritation in your pooch. This sodium-based substance is also an acid neutralizer, which can balance your pal’s skin pH.  

However, baking soda can also be harsh on the skin and dry it out. That’s why you should never use it around the face or eyes, and you also shouldn’t cover your pooch with baking soda. It’s best to make a paste and apply it to small areas such as hot spots, insect bites, or red patches on the skin. Of course, distract your dog and watch them after applying the paste so they don’t lick it off.

Baking soda can often help treat itching in dogs, but it can be harsh on the skin. Rather than immersing your pooch in the powder, apply a paste to the affected areas and make sure he doesn’t lick it off.

Is Baking Soda Safe for Dogs?

Baking soda can be harmful to dogs if they ingest large quantities. A toxic dose of about 2-4 teaspoons per kilogram of body weight can cause

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression and lethargy
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Disorientation

When it comes to the skin, baking soda is usually safe. However, the substance can be irritating for some dogs. So, if your pooch reacts to baking soda, find another option.

As a topical application, baking soda is generally safe for dogs, but some pups may react to the chemical. The greater risk is if your dog ingests any baking soda. At doses over about 2-4 teaspoons per kilogram of body weight, it can be toxic.

The Science Behind Using Baking Soda for Itchy Skin

The scientific name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. When combined with water, baking soda breaks down to a sodium(Na+) atom and a bicarbonate(HCO3-) molecule. This chemical reaction works to neutralize acids. 

When you apply a baking soda and water paste to itch patches of skin, the reaction helps to restore balance to your pal’s skin pH, and this provides relief. The natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of this substance also help to treat some underlying causes of irritated, itchy skin(pruritus). 

In water, baking soda breaks down to a sodium atom and a bicarbonate molecule, and the reaction neutralizes acids. Applying a baking soda paste to your dog’s skin thus helps to balance a normal skin pH to relieve irritation. Baking soda also has some natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

How Can I Use Baking Soda to Relieve My Dog’s Itching?

Some people will recommend bathing your pooch in a baking soda solution, but we don’t recommend this approach because it could be irritating or drying to your pup’s skin. However, you can sprinkle baking soda on your pal’s fur and massage it in. Leave it in on your dog for about 5 minutes then brush the coat thoroughly to remove the powder. 

For treating insect bites and other localized areas of itchy skin, you can make a paste with 50% baking soda and 50% water. Apply the paste to affected parts of your dog’s skin and leave it on for about 20 minutes. You’ll probably need to distract or monitor your pooch to make sure she doesn’t lick it off. After 20 minutes, thoroughly rinse the area to remove all residue.

You can also make a spray solution for local, topical applications. Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 cup of water and store it in a spray bottle. Be sure to shake the bottle vigorously before applying it to your dog. 

Summary: We don’t recommend bathing your dog in a baking soda solution, but you can sprinkle some of the powder on your dog’s coat and then brush it out. For local, topical application, you can prepare a paste or spray solution of baking soda and water.

How Often Should I Sprinkle Baking Soda on My Dog?

Fortunately, baking soda doesn’t harm the skin unless your pooch has an allergy. The sodium component can cause drying, but you can counteract this effect by applying moisturizers to your special pal. 

As long as your furbaby doesn’t react to the chemicals in baking soda, you can sprinkle baking soda on your dog as needed. Between treatments, observe your pooch for signs of inflammation and skin irritation. When redness or itching returns, it’s time for another treatment. 

Because the sodium in baking soda can dry the skin, it’s best to only use it when there are signs of redness or itchy skin. However, unless your pooch reacts to the powder, it’s generally safe for the skin.

What Else Can I Do to Relieve My Dog’s Itching?

Baking soda is one of several options you can use to help alleviate your dog’s itching. Below are some other ways to provide relief for Fido:

Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is a tried but true home remedy for itchy skin. This substance contains phenols and saponins that have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It’s also an effective and gentle cleanser and moisturizer for the skin. Bathing your pooch with colloidal oatmeal can help to soothe irritated skin and remove allergens from the fur.

You can prepare a colloidal oatmeal bath by mixing 1 cup of finely ground oatmeal in 6 cups of warm water. Apply it to your pooch by pouring it over the coat or with a spray bottle. Massage the solution into his coat and leave it in for at least 10 minutes. Then dry your pup with a towel.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The acidity of apple cider vinegar makes it an effective antibacterial and antiseptic agent. If your pooch suffers from skin infections that are causing itching, applying a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water may help. Do not spray this solution on any open wounds. 

Virgin Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil in its solid form can help to hydrate and soothe the skin. It has strong anti-inflammatory effects that work to relieve your dog’s itching. Rub some coconut oil into affected, reddened areas on your pooch twice a day for several days.

Herbal and Green Tea Soaks

Calendula(Marigold), chamomile, and green teas have anti-inflammatory effects that have been useful to help relieve itching. To treat your pooch, fill a bathtub or the sink with warm water and steep several bags of tea for 5 minutes. Remove the bags, let the water cool until it’s lukewarm, and soak your pooch for about 5 minutes. 

For spot treatments, you can steep a tea bag in water, remove it, and let it cool completely. Then apply the cool tea bag directly to the inflamed area of the skin.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera contains several chemicals and minerals that make it a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and healing agent. Whether you harvest some gel from a plant at home or use commercial gel, applying this ointment to itchy areas should help to relieve irritation and heal damaged skin.

Dietary Management

You may be able to relieve and prevent itching on a long-term basis by managing your dog’s diet. If you recently changed dog food and your dog suddenly started to itch, you may be dealing with a food allergy or sensitivity. Consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pup’s diet. 

Providing healthy supplements that support the skin and coat can also help prevent itching. Offer a diet rich in omega fatty acids and healthy carbohydrates to minimize food reactions. You can also add a spoonful of plain, unflavored yogurt to the food. Make sure the product has active probiotic cultures to support a healthy gut and immune system. Beware not to overfeed yogurt because many dogs can’t digest lactose. 

Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin

Another way to help provide relief for your pup is by bathing him with dog shampoo for itchy skin. These products usually include oatmeal to soothe and hydrate the skin. 

Baking soda isn’t the only option to help relieve itchy skin in your dog. You can also use colloidal oatmeal baths, a solution of apple cider vinegar, virgin coconut oil, tea soaks, and aloe vera to treat irritated areas on your furbaby. Dietary management is another helpful preventative tool.

Are There Other Benefits of Baking Soda for Dogs?

Baking soda has several benefits for dogs and their owners because of its ability to neutralize acids. These benefits include:

  • Deodorizing – whether you sprinkle baking soda on your pooch, his bedding, or the carpet, it helps to eliminate doggy odors. Always spot test carpets and upholstery to make sure it won’t discolor the fabric.
  • Cleaning up potty accidents – If your furbaby soils or pukes on the carpet, you can use club soda to clean up the accident. After that, apply a 50/50 runny paste of white vinegar and baking soda to the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes. After that, scrub the carpet with a damp cloth then vacuum when it’s dry.
  • Stop toenail bleeding – If you trim a toenail too close, you can dip the toe in some baking soda and apply gentle pressure to speed the clotting process.
  • Clean the teeth – While the best practice is to get an approved doggy toothpaste from your veterinarian, you can use sparing amounts of baking soda to clean your pal’s teeth. Lightly dip a soft-bristled toothbrush in baking soda and use it to clean his teeth and gums. Remember that ingesting too much baking soda is harmful to your dog’s health.
  • Remove skunk odor – Baking soda is an important ingredient in a homemade remedy for removing skunk odor from your dog’s fur. It won’t do the trick alone, but you should be able to neutralize the odor  if you mix:
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap

Only mix the solution when and if you need it because it can explode if you store it in a closed container. You should also avoid spraying the solution near the eyes or mouth. 

To treat your stinky pooch, wet his fur and rub the mixture into his coat(wear gloves). Rinse him completely then shampoo with your usual dog shampoo.

Baking soda’s antiseptic and odor-neutralizing properties can provide several benefits for your dog and the household. Either alone or in a mixture with other ingredients, it can deodorize furniture, carpet, bedding, pet accidents, and skunk smell. It can also help to stop toenail bleeding.

Final Woof

Baking soda can be an effective treatment for itchy skin in dogs. It has anti-inflammatory and soothing effects and is usually safe as a topical application. However, if your dog consumes baking soda, eating too much is toxic. When applied to the skin as a dry bath, paste, or topical spray, this substance helps to neutralize surface acid and balance skin pH to reduce inflammation. In addition to soothing your pal’s skin, baking soda can also help to deodorize, clean, and stop bleeding.

There are other natural ways you can help to relieve your dog’s itching. Substances like colloidal oatmeal, apple cider vinegar, virgin coconut oil, tea soaks, and aloe vera work to reduce inflammation, soothe irritated skin, and heal damaged tissue. Providing a healthy diet that doesn’t trigger food sensitivities can also help prevent itching in some dogs.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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