While an occasional scratching spell is totally normal for your dog, excessive scratching might indicate that they’re experiencing a problem. If you’ve noticed that your dog scratches all the time, it’s probably concerning you and you’re wondering how to address your dog’s itchy skin.
Anyone who has had a sunburn knows that itchy skin is uncomfortable, and we don’t want our dogs to be uncomfortable, especially because of something we can easily address. Itchy skin can be caused by a variety of factors, from something as simple as contact with an abrasive material to something more serious, like an infection. Here’s what you need to know about the causes of your dog’s itchiness, when itchy dog skin becomes a more serious problem, and how you can give your pooch some relief.
Causes: What Makes Dogs Itch?
There are a variety of reasons your dog might be feeling itchy. These are the most likely reasons you have an itchy dog:
- Dry skin
Fleas Make Dogs Very Itchy
Fleas are common in many parts of the world and can make your dog very itchy. When fleas bite your dog to feed on them, they leave a small amount of their saliva in your dog’s skin. The proteins in flea saliva are what cause the itchy reaction in your dog, which can last for several days. With regular flea treatments, you can easily avoid this discomfort for your pet.
If you notice your dog itching and scratching more often, fleas are very easy to diagnose because they are big enough to be seen crawling around in your dog’s fur. Just examine your dog’s skin closely to find the little bugs – they are often concentrated around your animal’s ears, armpits, and groin. Once your dog has fleas, getting rid of them is much more difficult than the prevention process. You’ll not only need to wash your dog thoroughly with a flea-treatment shampoo, but you’ll also need to clean and dry all the bedding and soft surfaces they’ve been near and possibly use a flea spray. Getting fleas out of the house can be a pain, but it is possible.
Dry Skin Can Make Your Dog Scratch
If you’ve ever noticed itchy skin in the winter when the air is dry, or after you get out of a very hot bath, then you know first-hand how it feels to have itchy, dry skin. This may be the cause of your itchy dog, too. Your dog’s dry skin might be caused by a problem with their fur (healthy fur is crucial to healthy skin for dogs) and it may also be a result of the environment where you live. If you live in an especially dry place, you may want to consider a moisturizing dog shampoo and possibly a dog lotion or balm.
Allergies Are a Common Cause of Itchy Dog Skin
Allergies can definitely cause your dog to experience itchiness. Allergies sometimes manifest on the skin as red, irritated areas called hives. Your dog may be allergic to a fabric or material in their dog bed or a sweater you got for them. It might even be something more basic, like an irritation from a new food, grass, dirt, pollen, or dander. Sometimes allergic reactions are also accompanied by red or watery eyes or sneezing. If you think allergies are the cause for your itchy dog, the problem might be solved with a simple allergy medication that can be prescribed by your veterinarian.
Complications: When Itchy Skin Gets Risky
Besides the discomfort it causes your pet, it might seem like itchy skin is a relatively minor issue. But there are some other symptoms that can accompany the itch that might indicate something more serious is wrong. Plus, your dog’s way of addressing the itchy skin – by scratching themselves – can also become a problem.
A Rust-Colored Fur Stain Can Indicate an Infection
If your dog’s itchy skin is accompanied by a reddish brown staining on their fur, it might mean they have a yeast infection on their skin. This is not uncommon in dogs and can sometimes be caused by excessive licking and the moisture that is trapped against the skin and fur (creating an environment for yeast to thrive). So, the yeast infection isn’t always the cause of the itchy skin – in fact, itchy skin can cause a yeast infection. This additional symptom will need to be addressed on its own or in conjunction with the itchy skin.
Scaly Skin May Mean Parasites
If your dog’s skin is not only itchy but also visibly flaky and scaly, they might be suffering from a parasite that causes mange. Also known as canine scabies, mange is a skin disease caused by parasites. Scaly skin may also mean your dog has lice. If you notice scaliness on your pooch’s body, you need to take them to the veterinarian to get a clear answer about the presence of parasites. That’s not an issue that will heal itself, and your dog needs immediate attention.
Odor Is a Concerning Additional Symptom
If your dog is itching and scratching their skin and you notice a change in their odor (something more significant than the typical wet-dog smell you associate with your pooch after a swim), this may also indicate a yeast infection in their skin. Yeast sometimes causes a dog to smell musty and moldy – a scent many people identify as smelling like corn chips. The smell is often concentrated on a dog’s ears and paws.
Pimples or Bumps That Ooze Are Caused by an Infection
If your dog has bumps, pimples, or pustules on their skin that are filled with pus, they likely have a skin infection. These bumps are often itchy and your dog will scratch, which will burst them and cause oozing. Pus usually means your dog is experiencing a bacterial skin infection called pyoderma, which can happen to all dogs. In puppies, pyoderma is referred to as impetigo.
When Scratching Becomes a Problem
Scratching is your dog’s normal way of dealing with itchy skin, and it might even be the primary way you learn that your dog is having this issue. But excessive or aggressive scratching can cause more severe health issues such as bleeding, redness, hot spots, and hair loss. These problems, beyond being painful and uncomfortable for your dog, make your animal highly susceptible to infection and other illness. If your dog’s scratching becomes this significant, it’s important to address their itchy skin immediately.
How to Soothe Your Dog’s Itchy Skin
Regardless of the reason for your pooch’s constant scratching, you’re likely wondering how to relieve itching in dogs. There are a number of strategies for treating itchy skin in canines. If you’re just looking for some quick relief before you visit the veterinarian to address why your dog is itchy, or if you want to know how to keep your dog’s skin in healthy shape and prevent itchy skin from becoming a problem in the future, consider these strategies for soothing your dog’s itchy skin:
- Natural remedies like honey, colloidal oatmeal, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, and fish oil
- Regular grooming appointments
- An itch-fighting, moisturizing shampoo and solid bath routine
- Topical balms and lotions
Natural Ways to Make Your Dog Less Itchy
There are many natural ways to provide help for itching dogs. A massage of honey followed by a bath of colloidal oatmeal might reduce your pet’s scratching. Honey is found in many pet and human skin care products for its soothing and moisture-retaining properties. Colloidal oatmeal has also been shown to soothe itchiness and even soften your pet’s coat. You might also consider pouring a little apple cider vinegar into your dog’s bath. While the smell might be a little off-putting for some, it can provide great relief for your itchy dog.
Other natural remedies for a dog’s itchy skin include adding turmeric and fish oil to your dog’s diet. Both might help your dog manage allergies more effectively and calm down their reactions to various substances.
Grooming Will Help Your Dog’s Skin Stay Healthy
Proper grooming is an important part of your pet’s overall health, and not just for a shiny, functional coat. Professional groomers will know how to maintain your pet’s healthy skin and ensure they don’t develop itchiness by keeping them moisturized. Furthermore, a healthy coat will protect your dog’s skin from various irritants. Maintaining a regular grooming practice – either with a professional or at home – will be an important part of keeping your dog from developing itchiness.
Bath Time Can Soothe or Prevent Itchy Dog Skin
Using the right products with moisturizing, comforting properties at bath time can help your dog feel more relaxed if they’re experiencing itchiness. Our Itchy Pup CBD Shampoo not only provides the soothing support of oatmeal, honey, and olive oil to keep their skin happy, but it also generates a calming sensation in your pooch with a topical CBD application.
Bathing your dog is not only necessary for his health, but also an important part of keeping them soothed and comfortable from skin problems. If your dog already has itchy skin, they might really resist bathtime and not enjoy the sensation of being touched or brushed because their skin is already so sensitive. The addition of topical CBD can make this process a lot more relaxed for you both.
Condition Your Dog’s Skin with Balms and Lotions
If you think your dog’s itchy skin is caused by dryness, introduce a moisturizing balm or lotion into their grooming routine. While it might seem strange to moisturize your dog, it can be very soothing, especially if they have hot spots on their belly or other areas that don’t have fur. Look for a high-quality product with shea butter and other soothing, dog-safe ingredients so you don’t have to worry about your dog licking the area after it’s moisturized.
Be Environmentally Aware on Your Dog’s Behalf
Your dog’s itchy skin may be a sign that they are allergic to something in their environment. While this might be a simple allergy to the polyester in their dog bed or the grass in your yard, it’s important to try to identify exactly what is causing your pet’s itchy skin. It’s possible that there are some more serious toxins or irritants that you need to deal with. Maybe your neighbor is using a type of fertilizer that isn’t dog-safe, or your dog has gotten into another hazardous substance. Pay close attention to any changes in your dog’s environment and how it correlates to their skin health – with a little detective work, you might be able to discover exactly what’s causing your dog’s itchy skin.
Your Veterinarian Can Offer Medication for Your Itchy Dog
Your veterinarian can help you identify why you have an itchy dog, and they can also provide many treatments that are only available with a prescription. For example, if your pet is suffering from serious allergies, you might need an antihistamine or steroid to calm down their body’s reaction, especially if the allergy is to something unavoidable like grass or dirt. Likewise, your veterinarian can provide treatments for infections like yeast or pyoderma.
You can definitely prevent itchiness with a healthy grooming routine and a safe environment for your dog, and you might be able to assuage their discomfort with at-home remedies for at least a while. But if you have an itchy dog, you’ll eventually need to consult your veterinarian to address the issue.