Pet Tips

Dogs with Itchy Skin – Pet tip 133

You can’t stand it any more! It wakes you up in the middle of the night and distracts you during the day. Your dog has been itching non-stop for days or maybe weeks. Your dog is obviously uncomfortable and has started to itch itself raw. You have no clue why this itching started and decide to take your dog to the veterinarian.

Itchy skin is a very common problem for dog owners. This is because there are so many causes of skin problems. Your dog could simply have dry or irritated skin. Perhaps it has a skin infection or allergies. In this article we will explore a few causes of ‘itchy skin’.

Just as in some people with dandruff, some dogs get itchy skin simply because their skin is drier than normal skin. There are a couple of ways to help your dog. You can bathe it less, and/or bathe it with a hydrating dog shampoo. At the recommendation of your veterinarian, you can give your dog fatty acid supplements or kibble that is specifically designed for dogs with dry skin. Remember that there are certain conditions that may make your dog’s dry skin worse, such as swimming or sunburn on short-haired, light-coloured breeds.

There are also many infections of the skin that can cause your dog to be itchy. If you have not had it on flea control, it may simply be fleas! Fleas can make some dogs so itchy that they end up scratching patches of fur completely off. Dogs can also get ringworm. Ringworm is a fungus that lives in the outer layers of the skin. Another type of fungus infection is yeast. Yeast is also a common cause of ear infections. Dogs, especially ones with floppy ears, are prone to mite infections in their ears. There is even a type of mite that causes ‘walking dandruff’. This infection commonly fools owners because it looks just like dandruff caused by dry skin.

Allergies are very common in our domesticated pets. There are two broad categories of allergies: food and environmental. Food allergies are caused when the dog’s body reacts to a type of food as if it were an invader. The inflammation caused by this reaction can cause signs in the intestine, and can be severe enough to cause other signs. Itchy skin is a very common sign of food allergies. Some of the most common ingredients that cause allergies are beef, chicken, and corn. These ingredients are widely found in dog kibble. When you suspect a food allergy, you have a few options. You can get your dog allergy tested to find out exactly what it is allergic to. Then you may decide to try a ‘novel protein diet’, which uses different ingredients to avoid common allergens (for example, kangaroo oatmeal kibble). Solving food allergies is a long process that involves much trial and error.

Environmental allergies are often the same as human allergies. Dogs can commonly have seasonal allergies, for example pollen. Other common environmental allergies are plastic food dishes and floor/rug cleaners. If you find that your dog starts itching right after you have cleaned or changed something in the house, you may have found the cause of an allergy. Dogs can be allergy tested for environmental allergens. Your vet is a very good source of information about common environmental allergens.

There are many causes of itchy skin in dogs. What is important in figuring out what is causing the itching includes finding out if there is a pattern of when the itching starts. Also, different causes of itchy skin will be located on different parts of the body. Keep in mind that there are many causes of itchy skin, including other factors such as hormone imbalances. Contact your veterinarian when your dog develops itchy skin, and be prepared to take your time solving this problem.

By Ashley O’Driscoll – Pets.ca writer

16 Responses to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar Heidi Younger says:

    Thankyou for the info. I know that my dog is not allergic to his food he has been on the same food all his life Eaglebrand Holistic Advanced Maturity he starts to itch at the start of each new season it seems. Can you recommend anything I could give him to help with this? Thankyou
    Yours Truly,
    Heidi

    • Avatar Marko says:

      You really need to contact your vet so that a live doctor can examine your pet’s particular skin condition. Otherwise it’s just guesswork and it can often cause more harm than good. Good luck.

  2. I need a home remeady for itching on the ears and cauliflower ear too i think it’s mites\allergies. what about benadryl can i use it.Is there some kind of oils that might help.

  3. Avatar Ann says:

    My dog was having severe diarehha and was seen by the vet..was put on Purina veterniary diets DCO and almost immediately problem was solved.. During that time she also had a skin rash..well was more of what looked like scaly patches…vet injected her with convenia, but the patches didn’t go… now she began scratching and vet said a 2nd injection sometimes is needed..so she’s had the 2nd shot and the 2 week period is close to over and she still scratches like mad.. My question here is.. could she possibly be allergic to the Purina DCO? Cause it seems to me she developed the itch around the time she began that diet…I need to know cause be silly to keep feeding her something that’s causing an itch..

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Dogs frequently develop food allergies, so yes this is 100% possible….(Please keep in mind that just because event B happens after event A, it does not mean with certainty that A caused B….
      We have a dog food forum on our bulletin board so feel free to check that out as well and post your question there (free of course). Lots of people knowledgeable about dog food post there (thanks people :) )
      Good luck!

  4. Avatar Alison says:

    Just wondering how long after you start a new food
    Would dryness and itching begin if there was an allergy

    • Avatar Marko says:

      It could happen pretty fast imo, like within 24-48 hours. That said, itchiness can happen for many many reasons including insect bites, rubbing against certain plants etc.

  5. Avatar Judy says:

    Just a note to say that my lab x has been chewing at the base of her tail for days and I put vinegar and water in a spray bottle and massaged it into the spot then rubbed lots of olive oil into the skin … she is lying quietly now . So hopefully this will get her through whatever is bothering her. Not scratching so don’t believe it’s fleas? .. just biting at the base of tail. Otherwise a healthy dog .

  6. Avatar Heino says:

    my dog is a german shepard and an outdoor dog. my dog is itchy. we went to the vet for her ear mites. we recieved medication for that and she is better. a month later(now) she is getting itchy. we kept her inside the gerauge for the winter and she is still in. she has little white flakes in her fur which really bug me when i groom her every day. how can i stop this and make her feel better

    • Avatar Marko says:

      You take her back to the vet to get examined again. The white flakes could be a few different things and I’d guess that it would not be too expensive to treat.
      Good luck

  7. Avatar Pattie says:

    I have a 4 year old golden lab who has been diagnosed with environmental allergies & treated with cortisone tablets. Is there a natural way to treat the dog instead of the medical way? Thanks so much, Pattie & Milo

    • Avatar Marko says:

      “Environmental allergies” – that’s a very general way of just saying “something” in the dog’s environment. Very hard to give practical advice on something so general without much more information.
      I’d be posting this in our forum where a lot more people have experience with allergies. It’s a much better vehicle for a proper back and forth. Good luck!

  8. Avatar Judy says:

    Following up on my black lab x , the base of her tail finally cleared up thoughout the fall but over the winter she developed ‘ lick granuloma’ on one of her back legs… excessive licking and biting creating a nasty looking spot on her leg. Tried all kinds of treatments, wanting to avoid giving medications but just last week decided to take her to the vet and get something for her. He put her on a month of antibiotics and some drops to put directly on the spot (synotic) … so far she is getting better, the big thing is to keep from licking the spot which we have been though a lot trying to do that. Things like putting socks on her and putting products on that dogs aren’t supposed to like and bought two cones of shame which she can get her leg around nicely to her mouth. The spot seems to be drying up and with constant watching her she seems to be less stressed about licking the spot. So lets hope this will do it :P

  9. Avatar ionna says:

    Both my Deerhounds had grass allergies last spring and summer (here in Adelaide), Their paws were itchy and inflamed. I took them to a Vet Dermatologist who prescribed some topical treatment and suggested that I might want them to have a course of desensitisation. I managed with the cream and it’s Spring here so they are getting itchy again. Has anyone had their dogs undergo desensitisation and what was the result. I’d appreciate some opinions on it.

  10. Avatar Judy says:

    Black lab x … all the trips to the vet and meds did not help with the granuloma. Changed her food to grain free, fished based food. GO salmon recipe. Wrapped her leg with ‘sugardine’ , look up on youtube. Easy to make, just sugar and betadine. Apply it on a wrap , I use strips of old towel. Leg is finally healing.. shrunk down to the size of the other leg (ankle) . Still putting a sock on with stretchy tape to hold it up… she leaves it on for a few days now and I change approx every four days. Hope this helps someone when they run out of options.

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