by Dwight Alleyne, DVM
How do you feel when you see your dog scratching constantly, day and night? You probably have feelings of deep concern and a strong desire to provide relief as soon as possible.
The first question that would come to mind would be, “Why is my dog so itchy?” As a pet owner, once you can determine the answer to this, the quicker you can provide relief for your furry friend.
Fleas and an Itchy DogDespite their small size, fleas can wreak havoc on a dog’s itchy skin. Since they need blood to reproduce and feed their young, they bite your dog relentlessly. These bites trigger an itchy response in your pet. This response is even worse if your dog is allergic to flea bites, which causes a condition called flea allergy dermatitis. Dogs with this condition have an exaggerated response to fleas that causes extensive hair loss and redness of the skin.
The first step with your itchy dog is to use a flea comb to search for these pests in the fur. If you find any, you can treat them with a flea product that lasts at least one month after administering. You can acquire flea preventatives at your local store or have your veterinarian prescribe a product. The faster you can get rid of the fleas, the faster you can provide relief for your furry friend.
Even though it is not the most common cause of itching, your dog can have a food allergy. Dogs who have a food allergy can be allergic to a specific ingredient in their diet that can trigger a skin reaction. Confirming a food allergy in your dog can be a challenge and requires patience. Typically, you have to do a six-week food trial while placing your pet on a hypoallergenic diet your veterinarian can prescribe. You will then compare with your dog’s normal diet to see if you note a response.
You can also feed your pet a diet that has less-common ingredients such as rabbit, venison, duck or potato. These diets are also known as novel protein diets. When feeding a novel protein diet, if you notice improvement in the skin condition, this could indicate an allergy to something in their previous food.
Just like we as humans can get itchy eyes and sneezing fits when exposed to pollen or grasses, dogs can have their own reactions to things in the outdoors environment. When dogs have allergies to the environment, you will see flaky skin, redness and hair loss. You will also see redness between the paws, since those are in contact with the environment when your dog is walking.
It would be nice if your dog could avoid the outdoors if they had these types of allergies, but in most cases, that would be impractical, since your dog needs to exercise and go outside to do their business. You can try to minimize the exposure to outside allergens by wiping your dog down with medicated wipes or bathing with special shampoos that relieve and prevent itching, like Skout’s Honor's Probiotic Shampoo. Adding a Probiotic Itch Relief spray is also a great all-natural option for easing your pet’s symptoms. Check out their Itchy Dog Kit for everything you need to soothe an itchy pet.
There are different reasons your dog may scratch. Fortunately, you have options so you don’t have to watch your itchy dog suffer. Your dog will appreciate you for all you do to help, and you will have a sense of relief as well. Just remember that if you don’t see improvement after the mentioned recommendations, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne is a veterinarian who has more than a decade of experience in treating cats and dogs. He is also the creator of the Animal Doctor Blog, where he provides general health advice and pet-product reviews.