Do It Yourself – Dog Anti-Itch & Skin Soother & The War On Fleas

My poor dog has FAD. Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Basically it means when a flea bites her she breaks out and it itches and hurts. She’ll chew herself raw and just turns into being a very miserable little Dachshund.

Although Cocoa has flea medication they still have to bite her to die. When they bite they release a type of poison into their skin and she reacts badly to it. I never noticed any fleas in the house, but I was not about to take that chance. I knew I needed to clean the house and help soothe her skin.

My first find was this website The Flea Wars it is a wonderfully informative website. You know the 20 Mule Team Borax I have in my Laundry Detergent and Dish Soap, well guess what you can use it to dust your carpets for fleas! AND IT WORKS! Put away that $15 bottle of Zodiac and pick up a $3.50 box of Borax!

We dusted, washed, vacuumed, and cleaned our house-top to bottom. I have one small dog and three cats and they don’t deserve to live in misery.

So lets Sooth That Skin! 

  1. Treat your animals, yard, and home for fleas & ticks.
  2. Bathe your cats and dogs.
  3. Treat “hot spots”.
  4. Give them a hair cut.
  5. Stop them from chewing on their selves.

I’ve already covered treating the house and by proxy the yard too if you read that website. I don’t really have a yard.

What to bathe them with? 

  • Dawn Dish Soap
  • Coconut Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
  • Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Lavender Baths
  • Epsom Salts
  • Flea fighting shampoo and conditioner

The Winner Is? An Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse. 

Sure it smells bad, but it is one of the most helpful household items to have in your stash.

What it does:

  1. Restores PH Balance in your skin and hair
  2. Anti-Inflammatory
  3. Fights Itching
  4. Acts as a slight numbing agent.
  5. Fights bacteria

How I use it:

  • I draw her a nice warm bath
  • Add one cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 20 drops of lavender essential oil
  • Rub and message her skin and coat.
  • Wash her coat with a sulfate free shampoo. (I actually use my own Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo)
  • Rinse her off and drain the tub.
  • Use a subtle soft conditioner
  • Rinse her off with cool water.


Q: What is wrong with using the other methods of cleansing? A: There are multiple answers to this question. Dawn, Coconut Oil, Flea fighting shampoo/conditioners are designed to kill fleas. Cocoa didn’t have fleas on her. If she did I would have chosen the Coconut OilDawn will kill fleas, but it is filled with sulfates and harsh chemicals, with her skin already bothering her I didn’t want to add to it. Flea Fighting shampoo/conditioners, sorry to be the cheap skate but Coconut Oil does the job, why spend $25 on that stuff with again lots of crazy chemicals. 

So Coconut Oil (Later you’ll realize I have a love affair with the stuff.) It will suffocate fleas, it’s anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, it does a lot of stuff. It does the job on fleas too, but it’ll soothe skin.

Q: Why didn’t you use the other items like the salt and lavender? A: I did use lavender with the Apple Cider Vinegar; it’s a soother all the way around. I just didn’t do the salts, but it is well-known that it works as a soother too.

Treating Hot Spots

What Do I Use? I use my very own concoction I mixed.

What you need:

-1 Spray Bottle 
-1 cup of boiling hot water
-1 tablespoon aloe gel or real aloe
-1 teaspoon of baking soda
-1 tablespoon of cortisone cream
-5 drops of lavender essential oil

What to do: Bring one cup of water to a slight boil. Remove from heat and while still hot add the other ingredients and stir until all is complete dissolved. Once mixture is cool pour it into the spray bottle and lightly spray it onto your pet’s hot spots and rub it in to their skin.

Haircuts and Cones

Cocoa is a Wire Haired Dachshund and her hair was becoming a hindrance to getting to her hot spots so I trimmed it. Sometimes with longer haired animals it just helps really get to their problem areas. Hair grows back!

Even though she was still feeling better she would still try to lick at the spots. So to help the healing process I had to buy a cone to go around her head. Poor little thing she looks ridiculous, but at least she can heal and it was pink.

Her skin is now cleared up and I have not seen anymore problems. My kitties are doing just fine with no fleas either. I keep a nice look out and dust my floors from time to time. The bugs have been bad the last couple of years. I love my little fur kids and I gotta make sure they are healthy.

Q: How did you come up with that mixture? A: Knowledge is power! I wanted to make sure the spray was something that could be complete water-soluble and still have properties to help healing. I’d like to find a replacement for the cortisone cream so I’m still tweaking this formula. I am completely open to help on this!

Q: How often do you bathe Cocoa while she had this skin problems? A: I bathed her about once every four days. Now I just bathe her once every two weeks. During the summer months it will turn into once a week cause she gets smelly quickly.

Q: Have you tried this on your cats. A: NO; you have to be careful with cats because they react VERY badly to some oils and items. I didn’t want to take that risk.

Q: Cocoa is a small dog; what are your measurements for larger dogs? A: Just double it. Two cups of water and double everything BUT the essential oils. Only add an additional 2 drops per cup of water used. For the Bath measurements, if you have a REALLY large dog and you’re using a big tub of water to bathe them then double the Apple Cider Vinegar.

There are MANY things you can do for your animals to help prevent being miserable from the insects. I suggest that you always investigate before you try something on your pets. Cat’s are more sensitive to certain oils and products than dogs. Dogs can be sensitive to things that we are not. Just remember to also do your homework and make sure you have a good veterinarian. Doctor’s do not always approve home remedies because it’s not apart of their medical training, but it always very wise to include your vet on things you’re doing to help your pets. Just like keeping your doctor in “the know” when you’re doing a nontraditional medical treatment for something. IE Acupuncture.

I appreciate ANY advice on this. Tip and tricks and good pet healthy. I love my little fur babies.


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  1. #1 by LeParfait on May 25, 2013 - 11:18 am

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering problems with your RSS.

    I don’t know the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  2. #2 by Susan on May 28, 2013 - 12:39 pm

    To be honest I have no idea. I’ve only recently begun to use this whole blog get-up so I am still figuring some of the technical aspects of it. Can you subscribe through the email temporarily until I can look into the RSS feeds?

    I’m glad you liked the article! 🙂

  3. #3 by Redunovin Slim Formula on June 25, 2013 - 5:29 pm

    Amazing issues here. I am very glad to look your post. Thank you so much and I am looking forward to contact you.

    Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  4. #4 by My Info on July 11, 2013 - 5:20 pm

    You mentioned that if Cocoa had fleas on her, you would use the coconut oil. Would yoh apply it after shampoo and before apple cider vinegar rinse? Or when? And how much would you apply?
    I think our dog, Max, has the allergy to fleas. It hasn’t yet been confirmed by a vet, but we have four dogs and two cats, and he reacts more strongly than the others. We also live in a rural community to we are dealing with fleas AND ticks. I look forward to your advice on the coconut oil.

    • #5 by Susan on July 11, 2013 - 6:31 pm

      Coconut Oil will suffocate fleas. As far as the amount I can’t really say. I just grab finger fulls and begin to message it into her skin and hair. Depending on your dog’s coat you can use a flea comb. I do this as a pre-treatment to any bath.

      So you can rub your dog Max down with the oil, then draw a bath with the apple cider vinegar, and then wash him down. I’ve also switched to using Dr. Brunner’s castile liquid soap to wash her up with. I find a big bottle of it at Target.

      Unfortunately,nothing really keeps the fleas from jumping back onto her after a bath. That’s why it is important to keep up with some sort of flea treatment. Even with the flea treatment they can jump on bite and then die, still causing the demerits reaction. It’s such a pain to deal with, and in a rural area, I’m sure it is amplified by 100x more difficult.

      Something else I do with the coconut oil is an after treatment. It can leave her fur greasy, but it, helps with healing and itchy, dry skin. I just rub it into her like it’s lotion.

      A lot of animals that suffer from bad FAD also become compulsive in their behavior. So we’ve had to put an E-Collar on Cocoa as she heals form an out break to contain her from tearing up her skin more.

      Last but not least, a friend of mine posted about a new flea collar that was released by the same company that sells Advantage. It’s called the Seresto Collar. It claims to keeps fleas and ticks off your pets for up to 8 months.

      They’ve released an actual case study on the new collar. It looks promising and looks like it might be better for pets with FAD. Here is the link to the medical journal study.

      I hope this helps you and Max a little bit better.

      • #6 by My Info on July 11, 2013 - 9:31 pm

        Thanks for your prompt response. I’ll try the coconut oil treatment and look into the Seresto Collar. I’ll let you know the results. Thanks for all your help!

  5. #7 by Lindsay Marie Camarillo on September 11, 2013 - 3:10 pm

    Awesome post girl! I do similar things with my fur babies too. I’ll have to try your hotspot spray on our neighborhood stray, she’s got some big ones. I’ll also try it on the horses, they always get spots from the horseflies. And if you’d like to see what I do for fleas and ticks and other biting insects, I’ve got some other natural and chemical-free tips and tricks on my “dog” blog post! And thank you for going chemical-free with your fur babies! xoxo

  6. #8 by ApollotheRott on October 4, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    I love this idea but im hesitant to try gor the follow ing
    I have a rottweiler (measurement s?)
    His hotspot have seemed to spread rather quickly and everywhere..
    Will the applecider vinegar burn
    Do I use over the counter hydrocortisone cream?
    He seems to smell weird.. like if the skin is oozing some things but not actually oozing

    • #9 by Susan on October 6, 2014 - 1:01 pm

      First of all, the smell could be a sign of infection. If you can please take him to see a vet. I know money can be very hard.

      The apple cider vinegar should not burn or bother him. It he has open sores just about anything (even water) will sting though. Just like us people, so remember that. Animals feel pain as we do. Back to the vinegar, it works as a slight anesthetic. IF you can put your giant baby in a tub then I’d would fill it as much as possible and start off with a cup of apple cider vinegar. Take a cup and poor the water over him massaging his skin.

      If you can’t put him in a tub, then get a large spray bottle and use 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar and water. Spray him down massaging it into his skin. Repeat this as much as needed.

      Yes, I buy over the counter 2% hydro. cream. I try not to let him lick himself. If you can use a cone, make a homemade one if you need to. Just google “homemade animal cone”.

      He needs time to let his skin heal. To help with scratching, clip his nails. Tape socks on him if you need to. Rub him down with coconut oil, this will help with skin healing and moisturizing his skin. If you don’t have coconut oil, use olive oil. It’ll make him greasy but the idea is helping him heal.

      You may have to do this several times. As I said before…. the smell *could* be infection, but often with skin problems does come with an odor. I wouldn’t feel right w/o saying to take him to a vet first.

      Don’t hesitate to ask more questions. I have a ton of ideas and I know Rots are BIG babies! (I used to have a Rot myself) We called her Susie Moose and she was the wimpiest baby ever and HUGE.

      We can concervse more on my email. I will help as best as I can!

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