When dog scratching gets beyond control, a visit to the vet is needed. Not only is an itchy dog an unsatisfied pup, but there are lots of underlying reasons your dog may be scratching.
“I have seen cases from very mild and uncomplicated skin issues-mild skin infection, early noticeable hair loss-to serious and complex patients where they're coming in and also the dog has raw lesions on the skin,” says Dr. Loke Jin Wong, DVM, an affiliate veterinarian at Noah’s Animal Hospital & 24-Hour Emergency Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
What Causes an Itchy Dog?
Allergies are among the most typical causes of dog scratching. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to many things, using their food to things in the environment-including fleas.
In the case of flea allergy dermatitis, it's not the fleas themselves that animals are allergic to, but towards the flea saliva, says Dr. Martin Goldstein, DVM, an integrative veterinarian who combines conventional therapies and alternative medicine.
Itchiness is also caused by a mite infestation or a skin infection called pyoderma, whereby the dogs are just itchy due to the infection and can become allergic to the bacteria itself, Goldstein says.
Finding the actual Causes
Before you are able to focus on the actual itching, your vet must pinpoint what's causing it.
“Until the underlying cause is addressed, the itchiness will never go away,” Dr. Wong says.
Veterinarians can determine what causes an itchy dog, whether it's dog food allergies, dog skin problems or something else.
“Additionally, a lot of our itchy dog patients are available in with secondary bacterial and yeast skin ailment,” Dr. Wong says. “You can treat these secondary infections, but they could keep coming back before the primary underlying cause is resolved.”
A good checkup for dog skin problems should include an intensive exam.
“Veterinarians can recommend appropriate diagnostics, which could include procedures such as scraping your skin of the dog to check on for mites, pressing a microscope slide on a dog's skin to get impression smears, medication and diet trials,” Dr. Wong says.
Depending around the results, your itchy dog may need a change in diet, antibiotics, allergy medication or any other treatment to solve the issue.
Give Natural Remedies a Try
While waiting for antibiotics or other medications to consider effect, there are steps you can take to supply itch relief for dogs.
Dr. Wong says to begin by adding fatty acids to your pup's diet.
“Fish oil and flaxseed oil are often good dog supplements to provide our pets, but please consult with your vet for an appropriate product and dose,” Dr. Wong says. “There will also be some topical essential fatty acid products out there that may potentially be applied to these itchy spots.”
In addition, Dr. Goldstein says to check out topical products containing arnica, calendula and natural aloe-vera.
“I always recommend that people have an aloe plant in their homes for everyone as a fresh source,” Dr. Goldstein says. “Supplements containing the natural sterol called beta-sitosterol will also be very anti-inflammatory without any side effects.”
Take Benefit of OTC Options
The most commonly used medication to help ease canine itchiness is cortisone, either by injection, orally or perhaps in the type of creams, Dr. Goldstein says.
“This is simply when the problem is much more severe and also the pet is truly suffering,” he says.
Some pets might benefit from antihistamines, only underneath the guidance of the qualified veterinarian.
You also can use a dog shampoo for itchy skin like Vetoquinol's Aloe & Oatmeal shampoo to assuage her skin, or try TropiClean's Allergy Relief Wipes to relieve your dog.
Whatever you use, Dr. Wong says to talk with a veterinarian first.
“We usually don't recommend [over-the-counter] medicating until we could work up the main cause,” she says. “A large amount of times, treating certain lesions with steroidal creams or other medications could affect the disease process and make it harder to identify.”
Prevent Your Dog from Accessing the Area
As you properly cope with the underlying cause, your dog’s itchiness eventually should be resolved, Dr. Wong says.
“In the meantime, an e-collar is the approach to take,” she says. “A T-shirt is also not necessarily a bad idea if your pet does not tolerate the e-collar well.”
All Four Paws' e-collar is available in several sizes and is a gentle, cone-shaped Elizabethan collar rather than the ridged plastic cones often seen.
For small dogs, use a baby or toddler onesie. A comfy wrap or bandage around the itchy area may also work.
“There will also be certain over-the-counter topical deterrents you could spray on these lesions on the skin,” Dr. Wong says. “Bitter apple is a reasonably common one that usually works and it is available readily at pet stores.”
Before applying almost anything to your dog's skin, make sure there aren't any open wounds. Otherwise your pet can end up with burning or discomfort.
Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and adventurerwho has written forNational Geographic,DiscoveryChannel.com, Yahoo! andMarie Claire. Diana has lived in five countries and brought her rescued dogs along to them of these.