Numerous trials show that a combination of primrose oil and fish body oil (wild salmon oil is my preference – see What’s In Your Fish Oil? blog post) helps dogs with atopic dermatitis. I really like that science tries and often wins in pointing us in the right direction, but I think that observation has a place as well. For example, science asks how much of each fatty acid is the right amount and under what circumstances. Important questions, but are we going to sit around while a dog is mutilating him/herself until scientific knowledge provides an answer?
Veterinary dermatologists seem to have decided not to wait. Most will supplement with essential fatty acids once the more obvious problems have been ruled out. No fleas, no mites, no bacterial infections, no yeast overgrowths, etc. Or, treat any of the above via medication(s) and shampoo therapies and if a problem remains, use essential fatty acids, sometimes in combination with particular vitamins and/or minerals.
There are many reasons for a dog scratching too much. Environmental allergies and/or food allergies are just two possibilities and although many people look to these first, it’s really best to have your dog checked out by a vet. Get your dog to a dermatologist if your regular vet can’t get a handle on things quickly because specialists simply know more. They save you money, too, because a good dermatologist can get a handle on the problem quickly, so you’re not having to see the vet again and again… and again. I ran into someone just a couple of days ago who experienced exactly this. Her dog had been treated by the regular vet for four years without finding relief. A variety of prescription diets, prednisone…you name it.
One visit to the dermatologist and the dog was cured. Why? Because he’d had a bacterial infection to begin with, so the prednisone only served to make this worse and dietary changes can’t do a thing for this kind of problem.
My experience via clients is that a combination of primrose oil and wild salmon oil can help tremendously when a dog is scratching due to atopic dermatitis. These oils are great for the skin to begin with, so you should give them a try – unless the dog has a gastrointestinal or pancreatic problem that demands a low fat diet. In all other cases, I’ve had really great results with 2 capsules (500 mg each) of wild salmon oil and 500 mg primrose oil per day for every 20-25 pounds of bodyweight. For reasons I can’t explain, giving 500 mg wild salmon oil twice daily works better than feeding 1,000 mg at a time, yet that doesn’t seem to be the case for primrose oil. I admit that it makes no sense to me, but I’ve noticed this for so many years that I’ve learned to accept it.