Dogs scratch, lick and bite themselves from time to time, often as a sign of personal grooming.
However, constantly scratching an area, losing hair, and creating sores are problems. It could indicate an underlying condition that can get worse over time.
Warm weather may cause the dog to itch often. There are many reasons for a dog's itchy skin, but veterinarians agree that the sooner the cause is known and treatment medications are administered, the better.
Below are a few causes, symptoms, and treatments to help figure out their dog's itching problem.
Why Is My Dog So Itchy?
When your dog scratches obsessively, it's a symptom of some underlying issue. It could be something on the dog's skin or something happening inside of your dog.
Whatever the cause of the itching, your dog scratches and feels uncomfortable.
There are several causes why your dog is excessively itching. Here's what you need to know:
- Fleas: When fleas insert saliva into a dog's body, proteins within the saliva create a fuss for their immune system. This causes itching that lasts several days. Flea bites are located anywhere on the body but are common in the dog's tail, rear end, and hind legs.
Give the dog thorough baths using quality shampoo and vet-approved flea treatment, or use flea spray around the house.
- Environmental Allergies: this is often a result of an ecological allergen, including plants, dander, or pollen, so that it can be seasonal. These allergens can cause excessive licking, scratching, and rubbing in dogs. For prevention, try an outdoor dog bed to keep them off the ground.
- Food Allergies: Food allergies cause year-round itching, a sign that a dog's diet needs adjusting. Chicken, dairy, and beef are some foods that spark allergic reactions in some dogs. These allergies can cause itching on the dog's armpits, belly, feet, or face. Talk to a vet for any suspicions of food allergies.
- Skin Infections: Yeast and bacterial infections can cause itch and are highly uncomfortable to dogs. Their skin often turns red and greasy with a distinct odor and other symptoms such as hair loss, inflamed skin, and oozing. Yeast affects folded skin areas such as under the tail, neck, between the dog's paws, and ears. Skin infections are ideally diagnosed by veterinarians who prescribe the appropriate medication for the different types of disease.
How is dog itching diagnosed?
A vet requires the dog's detailed medical history, a physical examination, and diagnostic tests to diagnose itchy conditions properly.
These tests may include food trials(elimination diet), intradermal testing(a veterinarian pricks the dog's allergen to see if the area swells), and skin cytology( analyzing a tissue sample under a microscope for bacteria or fungi), and radioallergosorbent test (blood test).
Treatment will depend on what's causing your dog to scratch:
- Antibiotics can be prescribed in case of fungal and bacterial infections, with medications lasting about 21-30 days.
- Limiting the dog's insect exposure through insect control can help with insect bite allergic reactions.
- Steroid medications like glucocorticoids are highly effective and may be prescribed for short periods due to side effects of extreme thirst.
- Anti-itch medications such as oclacitinib, essential fatty acids, and cyclosporine can also be prescribed for symptom management.
- Add probiotics such as Safe Guard Soil Based Pre+Probiotics and Immunity Organic Mushroom Mix for the dog’s gut balance, immunity and overall health.
What are the best dog shampoos for itchy skin?
Some shampoo formulations can be hectic; searching for the best one to relieve your itchy dog.
Here's an overview of what to pick when getting a suitable shampoo for your dog:
- Choose a shampoo with active ingredients to help moisturize and soothe your dog's skin depending on their skin type and the cause of their itching.
- The shampoo should be a hypoallergenic formula, suitable for the most sensitive dogs as most dogs with allergies or itchy skin have sensitive skin.
- Puppies are naturally playful and may extend this personality during baths by splashing shampoo into their eyes and noses or tasting because of the sweet smell. Get a safe to health-approved shampoo for puppies in this case.
- Select a natural ingredients product because artificial fragrances tend to irritate sensitive
- Medicated shampoos are equipped to treat more severe skin issues; most are prescription only. There are also over-the-counter shampoos that may be appropriate if the dog's itching has been diagnosed.
- Select a shampoo whose pH is well balanced as the dog's skin is somewhat alkaline to help settle their skin and prevent prolonged irritation.
Making the right choice of shampoo for a dog with itchy skin or allergies can be a fuss since you wouldn't want to cause further irritation.
Bathing a dog is beneficial and necessary to soothe symptoms of its itchy skin. Specifically formulated shampoos for itchy skin may come in handy for these situations.
Below is a review of some shampoos deemed suitable for your dog's itchy relief:
Oatmeal and aloe vera have been proven good relievers of itchy skin and allergy symptoms. This Vetoquinol product is soap free (100%), is subtle with a coconut fragrance, and is specialized to soothe a dog's itchy skin. It cleans a dog's coat deeply, adding moisture without interfering with its natural oils.
This shampoo is primarily natural and soothing and is made from beeswax, colloidal oatmeal, and a few vet-recommended compounds. It helps with itchy skin problems while moisturizing the dog's skin. It is also phthalates, sulfates, and parabens-free with a pH-balanced, paraben, and tear-free quality.
This shampoo is all-natural, leaving a dog's skin rejuvenated from allergies and itchy skin. It is approved by veterinarians and has neem, tea tree oils, and oatmeal.
Developed by Synergy Labs, this shampoo has active ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, allantoin, salicylic acid, and coal tar for soothing various skin problems. Its components relieve itching, heal a dog's skin injuries, and hydrate. It also reduces inflammation through its natural moisturizers.
It is derived from natural ingredients(98.25%) and is sulfate, EDA, parabens, and MDA-free to clean, condition, detangle, moisturize, and deodorize a dog's skin. It has a sweet coconut scent and ingredients including; oatmeal, aloe extract, coconut, and palm for a 5-in-1 action on a dog's skin. In addition, it has no chemicals, has organic ingredients, and is a hypoallergenic shampoo.
It includes natural coconut and organic aloe vera that cleans and deodorizes itchy skin gently yet thoroughly. The tea tree oil enriches the dog's smell. Frisco's added pro-vitaminB5 with vitamins A and E helps a dog's skin health and coat, primarily free from perfumes, parabens, and dyes.
Buddy consists of essential oils and botanical extracts for freshness, ideal for sensitive skins. Its relaxing lavender scent goes a long way. Its ingredients include aloe vera for soothing a dog's irritated skin.
This shampoo is free of irritants such as phosphates, soap, fragrance, and parabens that leave a mild natural formula with naturally moisturizing coconut extract and aloe vera. It mixes tear-free, all-natural, and biodegradable ingredients to clean and soothe a dog's sensitive skin.
This coconut-derived oatmeal concentrated shampoo gives itchy puppies with dry skin relief from skin conditions while profoundly moisturizing their skin. Wahl has a good pH balance and is alcohol-free, so it doesn't dry a dog's skin.
Aloe vera, palm oil, coconut oil, and oatmeal are its primary ingredients, a good choice for dog skin allergies and itching. In addition, this shampoo has natural, high-quality ingredients that are both vets formulated and recommended
Vet-formulated and recommended
How can I relieve my dog's itching?
After the exact cause of a dog's itchy skin has been diagnosed and treatment options administered by a vet, try helping your dog find comfort.
- Walk the dog on a new path to gauge if it still itches on the latest while paying, evaluating if its allergy is seasonal to help narrow down the cause.
- Talk to a vet nutritionist for an allergy-friendly diet recommendation for the dog's itchy skin. You may add a skin-calming supplement to their meals.
- If the dog's allergic to grass, try to walk them on pavements, especially in the peak pollen season. This allows their skin to get a break from grass pollens.
- Getting a dog a suitable collar regarding fabric can be challenging. Check the skin under their collar regularly for soreness and treat any discomfort with a soothing pet balm. Remove their collars every night for the skin to repair and breathe.
- Regularly wash the dog's beddings to reduce the risk of pests irritation. Hot baths using the perfect quality of shampoos are best to help parasites.
- Try making your pet's surrounding cooler if they itch more during summer to help calm their skin. Avoid walking them in the sun and provide plenty of water for them.
- Synthetic ingredients like synthetic fragrance, soap, and the foaming agent SLS can irritate sensitive coats making dogs itch after a bath. Ensure to use the best shampoos for your dog's skin to avoid this.
Human and dog skins have pH levels of 5.5 and 7, respectively, and are much thinner and therefore more sensitive to dyes or harsh chemicals in human shampoos.
Agitating a dog's pH balance may leave their skin more vulnerable to injury while drying it out. Avoid using human shampoo on your dog at all costs.
However, baby shampoos have a pH of around seven and are a safe substitute for your pet. They are mild and perfect for sensitive skin. An example is Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo.
Below is a show to make a simple homemade shampoo:
3-Ingredient Simple Shampoo
1/4 cup of nontoxic dish soap
1/2 cup of white vinegar
2 cups of warm water
Mix the ingredients in a container by shaking. Spray the shampoo carefully on the dog's coat after wetting it with warm water, paying attention to their eyes. Rinse the shampoo off repeatedly and thoroughly to ensure all shampoo is gone. Finally, dry them off and apply any desirable vet-approved ointment.
Oatmeal Dog Shampoo for Dry Skin
1 quart of warm water
1/2 cup of baking soda
1 cup of uncooked oatmeal
Shred oatmeal into powder form using a food processor or coffee grinder. Mix with baking soda in a large container. Using warm water, wet the dog's coat and soap them with shampoo.
Massage well into their jacket and let it sit for a while. Rinse them thoroughly with a lot of clean water and apply desirable topical oils.
Dogs tend to scratch or lick themselves as part of routine grooming, but when these actions become excessive and untreated, they can result in new problems.
It is essential to consult a veterinarian or find a veterinary dermatologist for examinations, diagnosis, and treatment options for your dog.
Hypoallergenic shampoos are best for dog allergies, while shampoos with oatmeal and aloe vera ingredients are perfect for the dog's hot spots.
Whichever shampoo one chooses to use on their dog's skin and condition, always follow its direction of usage to the latter.