7 natural home remedies for cat and dog allergies

Wipe your pets with a wet towel when they come in from outside. (Photo by Leslie McFarland)

Wipe your pets with a wet towel when they come in from outside. (Photo by Leslie McFarland)

At least 10 percent of dogs and cats suffer from symptoms caused by flea, environmental and food allergies, according to Dr. Jeanne Budgin, president of the American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology. Try the following home remedies to help alleviate pet allergy symptoms from flora, food and fleas.

1. Get rid of plastic food dishes.

Hot spots around the face can be caused by plastic food bowls. Throw out your plastic food and water bowls. Plastic tends to develop tiny cracks that can harbor bacteria, which cause reactions in sensitive dogs and cats. Pets that are sensitive to these plastic food bowl bacterial allergens often develop puppy acne or feline acne and a rash or pimples around the lips and chin, and sometimes even around the eyes or ears. Replace plastic with stainless, glass or ceramic food bowls and keep them meticulously clean, including washing them in the dishwasher at least weekly.

2. Do not use tea tree oil to treat skin conditions in pets.

Tea tree oil causes nasty contact allergies in pets, up to and including neurological reactions. Never put human acne medications on your pet. Human skin is much more acidic than pet skin, and using any human skin or hair products on your pet – including shampoo – can cause contact irritation.

Natural remedies for hot spots and allergies include Epsom salts. The healing properties of Epsom salt have been known for generations. Gentle soaking of just about any infected area of skin with Epsom salts – including feet, feline acne, hot spots and more – once or twice daily, discourages infection, reduces swelling and promotes healing. Epsom salts are available at any human pharmacy. To apply, use a folded cloth applied gently to the affected area. If the hot spots are under the feet, soak feet in a saturated solution, meaning add as much of the Epsom salts to a warm/hot bowl of water until no more will dissolve. Soak for five to 10 minutes. Do not let your dog drink the water.

Check out: Angie's List Guide to Veterinarians 

3. Add a complete oil to your pet's diet.

A simple way to treat dry skin and dandruff is to add a complete oil to your pet’s diet. Corn, safflower, peanut and sunflower are examples of oils that contain all the essential fatty acids. Your cat can take about half a teaspoon with each meal. Dogs can be given one to three teaspoons with each meal, depending on size. But remember that more is not better since oils are quite fattening, and some dogs can develop pancreatitis if fed too much fat.

4. Soothe itchy skin with an oatmeal soak.

marshmallow treats for dogs
Small marshmallows are a good treat for dogs with food allergies. (Photo courtesy of Leslie McFarland)

A mixture of oatmeal and water can be rubbed onto the dog’s skin to help relieve dryness and soothe itchiness. The oatmeal should be left on the skin for approximately ten minutes and then rinsed off with warm water. Baby food oatmeal makes a great, inexpensive soak.

5. Get creative with treats.

Use little, white marshmallows as treats for food-allergic dogs. They’re low calorie, and dogs love them.

MORE: Pet allergies create creature discomfort

6. Wipe allergens off your itchy dog.

The simple act of wiping the dog or cat down with a wet towel when they come in from outside can really help decrease percutaneous absorption of allergens.

7. Treat hot spots with equal parts Listerine, baby oil and water.

Put all three in a spray bottle, and massage a small amount into the skin three times daily. Clearly, caution is indicated and veterinary supervision is a must.

Magnusson is a 2000 graduate of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. After 10 years in practice working for other vets around the city, he is excited to finally be able to offer his services one-on-one to the residents of Indianapolis. 

As of July 25, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

This is an updated version of a story originally posted on July 25, 2011.


I have a boxer that is mixed with red nose bull pit, and I also have an red nose pit that have like rashes on their body's and they scratch a lot, I have used oatmeal,epsome salt, and changed foods and still there, its not mange or fleas, i had that checked and they get baths 1 week. do you have an ideas on what i might can use help them?

hi, as linda has asked ..how much epsom salts to how much water please ? there are so many websites offering advice re allergies & skin problems ive looked at in the last few days; so many comments from both forum members & website owners dont give us specific quantities for ingredients. as has been mentioned here, dogs dont have the same skin as us, so to accept the dosage on any household products eg epsom salts would be for animals risky. please can you tell me how much epsom to water? re the oatmeal skin treatment i doubt anyone could keep a dog from rubbing it off for 10mins :(.. thanks ryan

I use to have a Chow Chow and he developed hot spots. After going to see my vet and having him shave my dog and prescribe a salve I took my dog home and applied the salve. My dog was crying and withering in pain; I could not believe what I was seeing. It was like I had applied acid to my dog. I felt so bad and I preceeded to call my vet and blast him for giving me this garbage to put on my dog. I stopped using it and that weekend went to a dog show and started talking with another chow owner about these hot spots. She told me to go and buy a jar of Noxzema and put it in the fridge to keep cold. Apply it to the afflicted area and Voala; it worked, like a charm. I was so happy that I spoked with her. Best advice I ever got!

Hi! This is Kristy from Angie's List. You can give your pet a bath in warm water and Epsom salt or soak a clean cloth or towel in the solution. Then apply that directly to your pet's affected area. 

How do you apply Epsom salts , to a folded cloth and applied gently to the affected area. Do you soak the cloth in Epsom salt then apply

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