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We're all looking for ways to improve our lives and those of our pets, and nothing says love like natural care! When it comes to curing dandruff, easing itchy paws, stopping skin irritations and helping pets overcome stress and be more comfortable in their skin, nothing gets the job done like natural salts. 

Your body absorbs the many minerals from these baths through the skin (dermal absorption). There are tons of benefits for people and pets - from relaxation to detoxification. Salts have many other curative effects. 

There are many types of salts out there - epsom, dendritic, Dead Sea, European and Himalayan. So, which bath salt should you choose for your dry-coat, itchy, dandruff-ridden pet?

We take a look at all of them and how to best use them on your dogs and cats. 

First off, these salts are not for consumption for you or your pets. Natural doesn't always mean safe (see our article on Understanding Toxicity Levels of Natural Cures), so it's important to use salts (and any other natural remedy) properly (which also means not using them too frequently). Your pets don't really need a salt scrub more once a month or a paw soak more than once a week - unless they are being treated for skin conditions. 

Also, these salts are all for soaking in water, not eating and not drinking, so don't let your pets drink the water. Salts are dangerous if consumed and can cause severe damage. But, for soaking purposes - they are the best! 

Let's talk a little about the long history of salt baths. 

Salt baths have been prized as a valid medicinal cure for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks used seawater in their baths after seeing the miraculous healing effects the waters had on the hands of fishermen, and well they fought off infection. The Romans often used salts in their communal baths (by 33 BC, there were 170 pubic and private baths in Rome alone). Cleopatra even used them in her very elite day spa on the Dead Sea shores and Hippocrates wrote about their benefits many years ago. 

When we use them on our pets, we should aim for a soak or a scrub. The scrub is a perfect exfoliation that removes dead skin and eliminates dandruff. A soak will help your pets become less itchy and the salts offer a ton of great benefits for arthritic dogs and cats. I haven't even started on how good it makes them feel! 

Epsom Salt

 

Epsom salt is not truly a salt - it's actually a mineral compound called Magnesium Sulfate and it happens to come in crystal form, so it really looks like salt. Regardless, we like to call it a salt. It’s used in everything from gardening to stabilizing aquarium water content.

Magnesium Sulfate is great for very active, working dogs as it helps draw lactic acid from the body (which causes cramping and joint issues). Epsom salts also help skin conditions, like itchiness and rashes, and helps to soothe embedded nails, ripped nails and more.

On top of all those benefits, many humans are very deficient in magnesium, which can cause a lot of heart problems, and more issues like chronic fatigue and arthritis or joint pain. So if you're feeling a bit sluggish or stiff, soak in that bath yourself!  

Recently, scientists found that regularly bathing Epsom salts can help those suffering from arthritis and joint inflammation as they help reduce inflammation and pain in people (and, we're assuming, in pets). 

"The Manchester University team investigated how the way in which the body’s cells expand can control inflammation, which is the immune system’s first response to injury or infection. In the tests on mice, they discovered that by injecting a saline solution into an area of inflammation the swelling was reduced by sucking the water out of the expanded cells."

To use: Place ¼ cup into a bathtub or foot bath and soak your pet’s paws for 10-15 minutes or make into a salt scrub and use for exfoliation. 

 

Dead Sea Salt

Dead Sea salt is a wonderful way to soothe your pet’s skin and relax them overall. This salt is very different from other sea salts in terms of mineral content as it only contains about 8% sodium chloride. Magnesium, sulfates, and potassium make up the rest of this salt. 

This salt was reportedly used by Cleopatra in one of the first official day spas that she set up on the shores of the Dead Sea. The salt reportedly guards against aging and helped the Egyptians stay timeless. 

Little wonder that Dead sea salts are rich in minerals (including magnesium) and are a natural way to keep ease tension. Since it’s high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, it helps soothe itchy skin and even help reduce eczema-prone skin. Your pets will benefit from it with healthier skin and coats, and it really helps Conquer Your Pets Wintertime Blues!

Several studies have shown Dead Sea salt used in bath water can relieve arthritis and that its effects can last up to a month. 

To use: Use to exfoliate dead skin by turning it into a salt scrub. You can do this by taking a small handful of fine-grain salts and adding a bit of water or coconut oil (or any other carrier oil). Work the mixture into a paste and gently massage it over your pet's skin. This will help remove dead skin cells and decrease the itchiness associated with dry coats and skin. 

Himalayan Salts

Himalayan salt contains 84 essential minerals! These salts were deposited during the formation of the Himalayan mountains about 50 million years ago. Since that time, they were locked into protective layers of sediment thanks to a series of volcanic eruptions. These ancient sea salt deposits have been naturally preserved from pollutants by this sediment and now we can have some of the most beneficial salt in the world. 

What makes them so good? Well, they have dozens of natural minerals (which gives this salt it's beautiful coloring). While it has less magnesium than Epsom salts or dead sea salts, it is a well-rounded approach to healthy skin and it helps reduce stress.

These salts also help soften your water, so if you live in an area of hard water (like we do), you'll be able to create a type of natural water softener. 

To use: Add a few teaspoons of Himalayan salt to bath water and soak your pet's paws. Another option is to buy a "rock" (they are available in fine, course or jumbo), then hang under the faucet using an organza bag and let your bath water run over top of it to create a nice tea bath. 

Dendritic Salts

 

Dendritic salt is table salt that has been modified by a trace of yellow prussiate of soda (less than 3 parts per million). That tiny trace is then removed by the drying of the crystals. The end result is a tiny bit of salt that has a new design of star-shaped crystals rather than the traditional round shape - which leaves lots of extra surface area (nearly 2.5 times more!). 

So, why go through this lengthy manufacturing process? Because the larger surface area helps the salt hold important things like essential oils or other oils (like Coconut Oil).  This salt is designed to be used with one of the salts listed above. Another big benefit is that it doesn’t cause the oils to oxidize (make them go rancid) and the unique design allows the salts to dissolve much more quickly in water. 

To use: When making bath salts, mix a few drops of essential oils with your dendritic salts first and then blend the dendritic salts into your other salts. Mix well. You can add about 5% dendritic salt to your bath salts to help them to retain their scent longer. 

Rosemary essential oil has even been approved by the Commission E scientific advisory board (the German equivalent of the FDA) to treat both muscle pain and arthritis. Lavender is also a great essential oil to use as it helps to naturally calm pets (and people). 

Buying Bath Salts

If you're not up to making your own dog or cat bath scrub, there are some available on the market. Martha Stewart recently released her version of bath salts that includes eucalyptus, but feel it's a bit strong for our pets. The ingredients in her salts include: Sodium Chloride, Mineral Salt, Fragrance, Menthol, Yellow 5, Blue 1. I don't particularly like the word "fragrance" because it generally means "not essential oil". I also really hate the words Yellow 5 and Blue 1, and I'm not seeing which salt is used. Also, while eucalyptus may feel good in the bath, I prefer Rosemary essential oil for its skin-healing effects.

There is only one manufacturer who specializes in these types of bathing solutions though - and that is DERMagic. We use their Dead Sea Salt Scrub on our pets and we can't recommend them enough. Their Dead Sea Salt Scrub includes three of the four salts listed above and it's already balanced and contains Rosemary essential oils, which is the perfect solution for stressed out pets with difficult skin conditions.

Compare their ingredient list: Epsom Salt, Dead Sea Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda - for pH balance), Dendritic Salt, Diatomaceous Earth, Rosemary Essential Oil, Vitamin E, Aloe Powder & Natural Food Coloring.

Here's a video that shows how they work:

 

 

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stacymantle
Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.


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