Consistent itching and scratching in dogs – a valid and common concern for most pet owners. It's normal for dogs to experience some kind of skin irritation at one point or another. But in certain cases, dog itchy skin problem can be severe and cause serious stress to your pet.
If you've noticed your dog experiencing a lot of itchiness on a regular basis, it's time to take action. In addition to speaking with your veterinarian, the below list has five things for dog itchy skin that you can do to help relieve your pet's discomfort and stop that irritating practice.
All dogs are different, and the same goes for their skin too. What works for one dog may not help another: for some just a simple home remedy for itchy skin or switching to a medicated dog shampoo may suffice, while other cases may require stronger treatments. Having a few tricks up your sleeve means you can soothe your itchy dog and help him feel comfortable again.
Why Is My Dog So Itchy?
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Dog itchy skin can be caused by a variety of things, and some of them have bee extensively researched in scientific studies. These studies show that the most common cause is dry skin in dogs. It's more likely in extreme weather seasons, like the hottest months of summer and coldest months of winter, but there other causes, too.
If you live in an area with consistently low humidity, you may have noticed that your dog's skin is very dry. This can affect anywhere from a small area to a vary large part of the dog's body. The best way to avoid dry skin on dogs is to keep them well-hydrated.
Veterinarians warn that some of the causes of dog's dry skin (of which dog itchy skin is one of the symptoms) may be very serious and dangerous to a pet's health. Usually, if your dog's itchiness is severe and doesn't go away, you'll need to do tests at your local vet clinic to rule out any serious health conditions.
“Dry skin might not seem like a big deal, but it can actually be a sign of a much larger problem in your dog. Dry skin is a symptom associated with a wide range of conditions, from allergies and parasites to serious medical disorders like Cushing's disease and hypothyroidism.” – AKC.org
Another common cause of itchiness is allergies. Like us, dogs can be allergic to certain environmental allergens. Some dog supplies and pet food products can cause an allergic reaction in your dog too. Anything from your dog's treats and food, to toys, beds and other things the dog comes in contact with are suspect. Food allergies are very prevalent, and switching to sensitive stomach foods may often help your pet.
Other symptoms of canine allergies can include:
- itchy, red eyes
- runny nose
- itchy ears
- frequent ear infections
Bug bites and stings can cause itchiness, too. Your pet is exposed to all kinds of pests outside, including mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and bees. If he gets bitten or stung by one of these insects, he's likely to experience some swelling and itching along with it. Make sure your pooch is always protected against fleas, ticks and other parasites.
It can be especially bad if your dog is allergic to any of these bugs. A skin rash is likely to develop due to an allergic reaction to the bite or sting and cause your pet's entire body to be itchy. That would be your cue to get to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you're dealing with dog itchy skin, there are five proven methods to help you both.
Dog Itchy Skin: 5 Ways to Help Your Pet
1. Try Baking Soda First
A natural itch remedy for pets is baking soda. Baking soda is great because it's versatile and is usually something you already have on hand. It's very cheap and an easy option if your pet is suddenly attacked with severe scratching.
People have been using baking soda to relieve itchiness for centuries.
For bug bites or concentrated areas of irritation in your dog, you can make a baking soda paste with water, which is very simple. After that, just put a thick layer of this paste over the irritated areas on your dog's skin and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
Hang out with your pooch so he doesn't try to lick the mixture, rendering it ineffective. After waiting, rinse it off with water. There should be no more dog itchy skin after that.
For dogs that have itchiness problems all over their bodies, prepare a slightly warm bath. Add one cup of baking soda to the tub and mix it into the water. Place your dog in the water and let him soak for a bit. Make sure you pour the water over his entire body for the best benefit. You can gentle massage the coat.
2. Hydrocortisone Cream Is Often Effective
If the itching is due to a bug bite or allergic reaction, hydrocortisone (HC) cream can be a good solution to bring your dog relief from itchiness. HC should not be used on a regular basis for something like dry skin on dogs, as a tolerance can be build up and its effectiveness will be reduced.
Hydrocortisone is a very popular product for a variety of skin inflammation and itching conditions in dogs, and it's often used as dog ear infection treatment. This cream can be purchased over-the-counter, and you can use the same kind as humans do. However, there are certain brands of hydrocortisone cream that are designed specifically for dogs and are available for purchase.
All you have to do with the cream is to put a small amount on the affected area on your pup's skin, and rub it in gently for a few seconds. Be aware that your pooch may decide to lick off the cream, and can still scratch the area. Stay with your dog to keep him from licking off the cream for the time being.
When you're using any type of topical treatments for dog itchy skin, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on them and try to encourage the dog to leave the area alone to let the medicine work. It also may be dangerous for pets to consume those products.
3. Brush Your Dog Regularly
It's a simple and easy trick that's very effective for dog itchy skin. It's also possibly the cheapest method on the list. If your pet is having trouble with dry skin and dandruff, a great brushing session is in order.
Knocking out all your dog's loose fur will let your pet's skin receive better air flow, reducing scratching. Brushing also removes dander, a common allergen and irritant.
The brushing action will spread your dog's natural oils throughout his fur, making it less likely for him to have one specific irritated area. Many dog owners found this to be the reason for their dog's skin irritation and itchiness, and it would often go away after a good grooming session.
Brushing your Fido regularly will also stimulate his skin and increase blood flow to the area. This can help the area clear itself out and heal. Brushing one spot will remove any knots and tangles that have built up, that may have been causing irritation. Finally, most dogs love being brushed, especially when they're itchy.
When brushing your dog, you always want to be gentle. Brushing too hard can pull fur, break the hairs, or even scratch the skin, leading to more problems and further itchiness.
4. Give Him an Oatmeal Bath
Yes, oatmeal. For dog itchy skin, one of the first things to try is oatmeal. The reason for that is due to oatmeal being very naturally soothing on the dog's skin and coat, and it's also easy to find. Simply prepare a slightly warm bath for your pet using oatmeal.
You can use regular oatmeal from the grocery and grind it up at home, or buy oatmeal specifically designed for bathing. Either way, pour the oatmeal into the tub and then let your dog soak for a bit. It'll be an instant relief for your dog's itchy skin.
If you need more convenience, try using an oatmeal dog shampoo, or even an effective pet conditioner for dogs. This is also a good choice for dogs with chronic itching problems. Using oatmeal-based products not only provides your pup with relief, but it also helps you know you aren't using something they may have a reaction to.
Alternatively, you can also make your own homemade dog shampoo. It's pretty simple and many owners choose to do it themselves. It saves you a little money; you also know what type of ingredients you're putting there, and that they're safe for your canine.
However, other commercially made dog shampoos that are safe, organic and natural may be a better option since they also use specific ingredients to treat itchiness and dry skin problems in dogs. Make sure you know which type of dog shampoo your pet needs.
5. Try Antihistamines as a Last Resort
The final option on the list for dog itchy skin is something more harsh. For really severe itching, over-the-counter antihistamines may be the only solution. This is going to be something like Benadryl. Costco's brand Kirkland sells the most popular and cost-effective antihistamines which many owners use for their dogs' and cats' allergies.
Benadryl for dogs is considered a medication which may affect your pets in different (unpredictable) ways, thus it's best for you contact your veterinarian before administering a pill or liquid Benadryl.
Although Benadryl is safe for dogs in general, correct dosage is crucial. The most common dosage for something like Benadryl is .05-1 mg per pound of dog's body weight, according to PetMD.
This means you may need children's varieties of the medication, since most human Benadryl tablets are stronger and bigger. You can also break a tablet in half as needed. Only give your dog a dose of Benadryl every 8 hours. This medication is likely to make him a bit sleepy and loopy; keep an eye on the dog to make sure he is doing fine, and stays safely indoors.
In conclusion, we have to recognize that dog itchy skin is common – all dogs scratch at some point, it's part of being a pup. But if your pet is excessively itching and biting his skin and fur, it may be time to find some effective solutions to deal with this.
The above mentioned methods are likely to help 99% of dogs to relieve itchiness and feel more like their usual self. If none of the above solutions worked, or if your pet's condition worsens, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
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