Dogs can become itchy for a variety of reasons. The usual cause is fleas, which can be easily treated. But other times, our furry friends may have an underlying condition that requires veterinary care. In this article we review the reasons for a dog's itchy skin and options for how pet parents can find natural itch relief for dogs.
Why Is Your Dog Itching So Much?
You may ask, why is my dog itching so much? The causes for an itching dog may be varied and could be a combination of issues. The common reasons why dogs won't stop itching usually include:
- Fleas and flea allergies – fleas cause itching and dogs can become allergic to flea saliva
- Ticks – ticks irritate your dog's skin as they burrow in
- Mites – mite parasites that causes irritation, itching, and hair loss
- Environmental allergies – a condition called atopy that affects as much as 15% of the dog population; your dog may be allergic to seasonal allergens like pollens and indoor allergens like mold
- Food allergies – ingredients in your dog's food or treats may cause an immune response
- Skin infections – ringworm, yeast, or secondary bacterial infections
Everyone – dogs and people – will occasionally itch without having a condition that requires treatment. But if your dog is constantly itching and scratching, it's time to visit your vet. It could be something simple, like seasonal dry skin or fleas, or it could be a complex issue, like food or environmental allergies, that requires in-depth diagnoses and ongoing treatment.
Common Causes for Itchy Dogs
Fleas, ticks, and mites are the most likely culprits for your dog's itching, and a trip to the vet for an examination and treatment is warranted. Stay current with your dog's flea treatments to keep the parasites from coming back. If it is mites, your vet will give you a treatment for mange. Other causes include:
A life-long condition, atopic dermatitis is characterized by excessive itching and is caused by a reaction to substances in the environment. It could be genetic, as several breeds and families of dogs are predisposed to this condition.
Seasonal allergies can be caused by different kinds of tree and grass pollens that are wind-blown in the spring, summer, and fall months. Seasonal allergies can also include mold during the wet, summer months.
Environmental allergies include dust and mold inside your home, as well as bedding material, cleaning chemicals, or other environmental factors.
Contact dermatitis is also characterized by excessive itching. It is caused when dogs come in contact with an irritating substance in the environment.
Food allergies can be accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. If your vet suspects a food allergy, your dog may be placed on a hydrolyzed protein diet to see if his itching stops. During this time, you'll have to stick to the diet and restrict treats.
Flea saliva can cause an inflammatory reaction that can make your dog itch. Your vet can prescribe medications that will help treat the fleas on your dog and disrupt the flea life cycle. You can also vacuum your carpets and upholstery as well as any cracks or crevices where fleas can hide. Be sure to wash your dog's bedding in hot, soapy water.
If the itching has caused your dog to lick, scratch, or bite his skin, a secondary infection may have developed. Depending on the infection, your vet may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics.
Ringworm is a fungal infection characterized by itching and hair loss with a crusty covering or gray, scaly patches. It is highly contagious to pets and people, so if you have more than one pet, keep the one with ringworm away from the others. Your vet may give you both topical and oral treatments. Be sure to wash your dog's bedding in hot, soapy water.
If your dog has itchy paws or ears, it could be yeast dermatitis or otitis, which is a common itchy skin issue for dogs. Some dog breeds are more prone to yeast skin infections. Your vet may prescribe topical antifungal creams, wipes, or drops. Yeast infections can also be a sign that your dog may have food or environmental allergies.
Dog Itching Remedies
If your dog has been diagnosed with a chronic condition, it may be time to try an anti-itch solution for dogs. Steps you can take to help provide itching relief for dogs include:
- If it's a food allergy, keep your dog on your vet's recommended diet
- If it's not a food allergy, try specially formulated food for sensitive skin – these foods are rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and other key nutrients that help promote skin health
- Ask your vet about anti-itch dog supplements – look for ingredients that support your dog's healthy skin
- Medicated or natural shampoo remedies to relieve itching
- Medications and hot spot treatments for dogs
How to Stop Dog Itching Naturally
Talk to your vet about other potential treatments, such as:
- Natural yeast infection treatments for dogs
- Natural treatments for atopic dermatitis
- Keep your dog's bedding, toys, and accessories clean
- Try humidifiers to keep your household air moist during winter months
Before trying home remedies for itching dog skin, like chamomile tea soaks or oatmeal baths, consult your vet. Topical treatments, even those identified as natural remedies for dog itching, may do more harm than good if your dog ingests them.
What You Can Give Your Dog Orally for Itchy Skin
Oral dog supplements for itching that contain natural, beneficial ingredients, like EverRoot skin and coat supplements, may help soothe your dog's skin. These ingredients include fish oils, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, safflower oil, vitamin E, zinc, and vitamin B (biotin).
Wild-caught Alaskan salmon and wild-caught Alaskan cod liver oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can help your dog in a variety of ways, including his skin. Their anti-inflammatory properties may reduce itching and limit shedding.
Dogs can benefit from hemp seed oil due to its dense nutritional profile that includes antioxidants, such as vitamin E, and omega fatty acids that can help relieve dry, itchy, or flaky skin.
Coconut oil with MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) is filled with omega-6 fatty acids to help support your dog's skin, immune response, and brain health.
Safflower oil can enhance skin hydration, protect against external irritants and allergens, and support a softer and shinier coat texture for dogs with itchy, flaky skin. It may also help reduce shedding.
Zinc can help maintain dog's skin moisture by helping reduce water loss through the skin. Without proper levels of zinc, dogs can develop hair loss and skin infections.
Supplementation with Biotin (Vitamin B) can help restore healthy skin to dogs with hair loss, scaly skin, and itching.
With a little proactive care, the proper nutrition, extra love, and a bit of patience, you can help your dog regain his healthy skin.
Learn more about EverRoot skin and coat health supplements for dogs.