What are the causes of itchy skin in dogs?
Itchy skin can be a result of many different factors including food allergies, environment, and skin diseases or infections. Scratching is normal behaviour in dogs, which is not normally a cause for concern, however excessive itching can be an indication that something is wrong. The causes of excessive scratching can range in severity and ultimately cause our dogs a lot of pain and discomfort. It is important to recognise the symptoms, understand the causes and be aware of treatments to make sure our dogs are as happy and healthy as possible.
Symptoms of itchy skin
Despite the cause of itchy skin, the symptoms are the same. We have listed the most common symptoms to watch out for in your dog:
- Excessive / frequent scratching
- Biting and licking paws
- Dry, flaky skin
- Biting / nibbling skin
- Shaking head
- Rubbing against furniture
- Swollen facial features
- Open wounds / skin sores
- Hair / fur loss
- Eye watering
Environmental causes of itchy skin in dogs
External factors can irritate your dog’s skin and initiate scratching. This exaggerated response to typically non-toxic components (allergens) within the environment is known as ‘Atopy’. It is important to note that this can be seasonal and may cause increased itching at specific times of year.
The most common environmental causes of itching:
- Weeds / Grasses
- Animal hair / fibres
- Flea Saliva (when bitten)
- Parasites in water / Swimmer’s itch
Home remedies and preventative measures
Effective allergy testing is available for Canines and is something you may consider looking into, so you can eliminate or reduce your dog’s exposure to specific environmental allergens. This is the most successful way to reduce itchy skin in your dog, however we can appreciate this can be difficult. Below, we have listed a few ways you can help your dog at home.
- Our Itchy Skin relief spray is a great treatment and preventative measure to tackle your dog’s discomfort. Comprised of solely electrolysed water, the active ingredient Hypochlorous Acid is a powerful all-natural chemical that acts as an anti-inflammatory and instantly eliminates Bacteria, Fungi and Viruses.
- Closing windows and doors will ensure your home is as allergen free as possible, making it a comfortable place for your dog to relax itch-free. If it gets too warm in the summer months, consider using a fan or air conditioning.
- If your dog loves to swim in ponds, lakes, or the sea, it will be helpful to rinse and dry your dog down as soon as possible to remove any nasty parasites before they
- Regularly wash your dog’s bed to remove existing allergens and prevent repetitive irritation.
- Use Flea Spray to remove existing Fleas or use regularly as a preventative measure.
- Bathing your dog regularly with sensitive or prescription shampoos to soothe the skin and relieve discomfort.
- Desensitisation therapy is where you gradually expose your dog to the allergen will build up their tolerance overtime to reduce side effects.
- Antihistamines can also relieve itchiness caused by allergies.
- Fatty Acids found in Salmon Oils can be an effective and natural way to alleviate itchy skin whilst also improving your dog’s coat.
Dietary / food allergies
Allergies in dogs are mostly tiggered by food, especially proteins. Your dog’s natural immune response to these dietary allergens, is to release antibodies. Despite this, it is sometimes not enough to prevent itchiness, so dogs need external treatments to reduce Pruritus.
The most common dietary causes of itching:
- Proteins (Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Fish, Rabbit, Egg)
Allergy testing is also available to detect dietary allergies, as well as environmental. This can be helpful when picking the best food to feed your dog to eliminate itchy skin. If this is not feasible, you can trial entirely new foods and ingredients and observe your dog’s scratching behaviours. If the itching stops, you can identify and exclude what irritates your dog through this trial-and-error process.
Skin diseases and infections
Genetics, infections, and hormone imbalances can all contribute to all-over itching in dogs. The term ‘Pruritus’ describes the unpleasant sensation within the skin that provokes the desire to scratch and is the most common reasons dog owners seek veterinary help.
Bacterial and fungal (yeast) infections are extremely common, alongside diseases such as ‘Mange’ and ‘Seborrheic Dermatitis’.
Seborrheic Dermatitis a genetic cause of itchy skin. Dogs have glands that sit beneath their hair follicles all over their bodies. These glands can produce too much oil and over-lubricate their skin. This in turn leads to their skin becoming crusty and itchy. This can lead to secondary problems such as bacterial infections when excessive scratching leads to open wounds. It is important to understand the cause of the itching to be able to treat it effectively and restore comfort and good health in your dog.
Where does my dog get itchy?
Skin irritation can occur all over your dog’s body and can be visible with a rash or redness; however, this is not always the case. The areas that are most prone to skin irritation in your dog include:
When to seek Veterinary help
Ultimately, itchy skin can be very painful and uncomfortable for dogs. We recommend that you seek veterinary advice as soon as you recognise the listed symptoms before administrating any treatment.