Canine atopic dermatitis is extremely common in the Jack Russell Terrier. This terrible skin condition causes the skin to become very inflamed, red and itchy. The itchy skin causes constant scratching and constant itching. The itchy Jack Russell Terrier will chew the feet and scratch the abdomen, groin and arm pit (axilla).Ear problems are common also.
To understand how natural treatment can be helpful and effective, it is important to know a little bit about the anatomy of the skin and what goes wrong in canine atopic dermatitis. In the itchy Jack Russell Terrier with atopy, there is a deficiency in the skin barrier. The skin cells are bound together with ceramide. This outer barrier of skin cells and ceramide is a bit like a brick wall with bricks bound together with mortar. In dogs with atopy, the ceramide is deficient in a protein called sphingosine so the “mortar” is crumbling. This imperfect skin barrier is leaky. Water escapes from the skin making it very dry. Allergens are able to cross the skin barrier triggering the immune system and causing a terrible itchy rash.
Products that wash away the damaged skin barrier will make the problem worse. Shampoo with soaps and surfactants should be avoided. Products that are drying or acidic will dry and damage the skin further. Products like tea tree oil are commonly sold as natural treatment remedies for itchy skin. Putting an acidic product like tea tree oil on a dog with atopic dermatitis is like putting petrol on fire.
There are some natural products that make a huge difference however.