Dogs itch for many different reasons and sometimes for no reason. Every dog’s gonna scratch some time that’s completely common. But if they incessantly lick, scratches, bites and chews and wounds themselves then we need to be worried. Scratching is a symptom of an underlying pathology.
Till now from the researches done there are over 160 different skin disorders identified in dogs, some of which create chronic difficulties, which must be solved sooner than later. As a pet owner, you should be proactive in defining the problem accurately and in a timely manner. We can classify the skin problems in two types.
• Curable Skin Disorders
• Incurable skin Disorders
Curable Skin Disorders
Of the curable skin disorders, the most commonly seen is reoccurring bacterial dermatitis where the dog displays circular patches alopecia (hair loss), scales and crusts, and tiny inflamed eruptions that evolve into additional crusty patches.
Incurable Skin Disorders
The incurable, chronic skin disorders can be a nightmare for the unfortunate dog and frustrating to the veterinarian and dog owner. Hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism in Golden Retrievers and Cushings disease (adrenal gland disorder) often seen in small breeds, generally are not curable but be managed and will display remarkable improvement once proper therapy is instituted.
Most people’s often assumes that fleas are the reason for itching. But the truth is that itching in dogs is caused by a number of things. While a dog may be scratching, itching, licking and biting because fleas are biting him, he also could be doing because his skin is irritated or dry or even due to boredom and anxiety.
Disorders such as pemphigus are some of the most frustrating chronic and incurable skin problems of dogs. These occur when the dog’s immune functions target his own tissues for destruction, also known as an autoimmune skin diseases.
Atopy, also called allergic inhalant dermatitis, can mimic other itchy, destructive skin disorders and may require life-long therapy to control. A newly approved use of cyclosporine has shown dramatic improvement in atopic patients.
We are mainly discussing following topics in this section
• Causes of itching in dogs
• Main symptoms of dog itching
• How are skin problems diagnosed?
• Home Remedies For Itching Of Dogs.
Causes of itching in dogs
Here in this section we will discuss various things which cause itching in dogs. We can classify them as follows
• Dry skin
• Anxiety or Boredom
• Hormonal Imbalances
One of the most common cause for itching is dry skin. The atmospheric conditions in your region play a part in this, for example if you live in a region with low humidity it is more likely that your dog’s skin will be dry. It is very easy to recognize dry skin just check the dog’s skin to see whether there are any flakes of dandruff in the undercoat and it will be cracked and tough.
Dry skin is not only caused by environmental factors but also by diet. There are quality commercial pet foods which process out the good oils that contribute healthy skin and shining hair coat. In the case of dry pet foods, it will cause the dehydrating effect on skin and hair and also stimulate increased thirst.
If you must feed dry foods, then by all means add digestive enzymes to your dog’s meals. Digestive enzymes will improve the release of nutrients and beneficial probiotic bacteria and also assist in the digestive process. A healthy digestive process is essential as it absorbs fluids more readily from the food your dog eats. It will improve the hydration and moisture levels of the skin and hair coat. So digestive enzymes can be used with any type of food.
Another common cause of itchy skin is allergies. It is often caused due to certain foods and environmental triggers, including mold and pollen. Dogs may also develop a skin irritation and contact dermatitis when they encounter substances like soap or pesticides. Allergies may make your dog’s skin dry, greasy or oily and are accompanied by frequent scratching, licking or chewing.
In recent times we are seeing significantly more cases of itching due to allergies. The reason for this increase is still uncertain but many veterinarians believes that poor breeding practices and feeding of processed foods may be the reason. Whatever be the cause the allergies are difficult to address. In worst cases, affected dogs requires strong pharmaceuticals to get some relief. Since allergies are hard to prevent early identification and intervention are needed.
Research studies have shown that the likelihood of allergies in dogs can be reduced by giving them high potency cultures of beneficial probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus Bifidus when they were young. Probiotics are relatively inexpensive and absolutely safe to use thus saving both dog and the owner tons of grief and visits to the vet later in life.
Regardless of the age we can control the allergies by improving the quality of their diet. We can give them high doses of fish oils, adding freshly milled flax seed, high potency acidophilus cultures.
Above two are the main two reasons for Itching in dogs. It can also be caused due to the following reasons
Anxiety or Boredom
It’s similar to us biting our nails or twirling our hairs when-when we are in an anxiety or bored. Dogs have physical responses to physiological upsets.Separation anxiety and boredom can certainly lead a dog to find ways to keep himself entertained. In the absence of other alternatives, and when chewing on shoes or destroying pillows are no longer satisfactory, they may turn to scratching, licking or chewing. They will start to lick or scratch and sometimes. It may develop into an obsessive compulsive disorder. This and can lead to severe damage to the dogs.
If your dog’s body is not producing enough thyroid hormone or putting out too much cortisol ( the steroid hormone), skin infections can occur. ou may notice small red spots and your dog may lick or scratch as if bothered by allergies. Just make sure that your dog is on a proper diet.
Compulsive dog licking, chewing or scratching can be caused due to fleas, ticks, and mites. Mites usually go for ears, face, elbows hocks and belly where it is less fur as they burrow and lay their eggs in their skin. so mites are easily accessible in these places. Although ticks are visible to the naked eye, fleas go often goes unseen until there is a large infestation and mites are microscopic. So never assume that your dog is not suffering from parasites just because you can’t see them.
Bites and droppings from these pesky insects can irritate your dog’s skin, and some pets can have an allergic response to the saliva following a bite. Some dogs may also be sensitive to flea-treatment products; certain flea collars, for example, may cause redness and irritation around the neck.
This highly contagious fungal infection can result in inflammation, scaly patches and hair loss. You’ll want to treat it immediately to avoid other pets and people in the household from becoming infected.
Main symptoms of dog itching
Moving on from the causes of itching we will next discuss mainly the symptoms which can be a start of skin problems. As you know Its better cure at start rather than going late mainly because it may lead you to abandon your pet prematurely
Following are the various symptoms of skin problem which causes the dogs to scratch, lick and bite their skins
• Pruritis is the nonstop itching.
• Erythema is the reddening and darkening of the skin.
• Dermatitis is the inflammation of the skin with intense irritation, itching and licking at selected areas of the body or all over.
• Pyorrhoea is skin thickening and scar tissue.
• Moist Eczema is the hot spots – dermatitis with secondary bacterial or fungal infections.
• Alopecia is the hair loss and bald patches seen in dogs skin.
• Acral Lick Dermatitis is the persistent obsessive licking and chewing of certain areas.
• Pyoderma is the pus-filled lesions or weeping sores caused by secondary infections of the damaged skin.
• Parasitic Dermatitis is caused by fleas, ringworms or mites.
• Seborrhea is caused because of yeast infections causes excessive production of greasy, matted coat.
How are skin problems diagnosed?
There are many causes of skin abnormalities in dogs, and identifying the underlying cause is not always simple. Therefore, you should visit your vet for an exam as soon as you notice any abnormality in your pet’s skin or hair, or if your pet begins to excessively scratch, lick and/or bite areas on his fur.
After obtaining a history and performing a thorough physical exam, your vet may perform diagnostic tests in order to find the cause of your dog’s symptoms. These include:
• Skin biopsy
• Testing for ringworm
• Microscopic examination of the hair and skin for presence of parasites or infection
• Allergy testing, which may include a diet change
• Blood tests to assess your dog’s overall health
Home Remedies For Itching Of Dogs
In this section, we will discuss various home remedies you can apply for removing itching in dogs. Mainly these are simple remedies you can try yourself with the things itself in your home.
If the dog is itching or scratching wash the affected area with Epsom salt mixed with warm water. Instead of Epsom salt you can also use ocean water.
A drop of cooking oil along with just a few drops of dog shampoo and about 5 cups of water can kill fleas (If it is bigger dog use more water).
Mix Vinegar with water and pour on area where dog is scratching. Use apple vinegar if available as it is the best and repels fleas effectively.
Take the lemon and squeeze the juice into a spray bottle and also drop the lemon into the bottle. Fill the water and let it sit overnight. Spray the solution onto the affected area.
A tea recipe to treat dry patches on a dog’s skin. Prepare the thyme tea and after it cools pour it in a spray bottle. Spray it on dry patches of the dog’s skin.
If there are any hotspots wash the area with the hot water and put aloe on it and let it dry. Wait a few minute and dry off excess Aloe. You can put an e-collar or a shirt so the dog can’t scratch at them.
Diatomaceous Earth is available on most pet stores. It can be used to kill fleas.
You can use Sudo cream ( the baby nappy rash cream ) for smoothing on particularly itchy patches to soothe the skin of your dog.
Any dog experiencing excessive shedding, itchy skin or allergies can also benefit enormously from regular baths with neem shampoo, which is gentle enough to use every day. The dogs dry, flaky, madly shedding coat will improve dramatically after using neem oil.
A flea comb is a very fine toothed comb that can be used to remove fleas and flea eggs from a dog.
• Reduce Fleas from home
• Vacuum the carpet, furniture and floors. It sucks up fleas & their eggs. It also sucks up mittens.
• Make sure your Dog is in proper diet
• Add digestive enzymes to your dog’s food (Probiotic bacteria)
• Provide fresh filtered drinking water.
• Add olive oil as the supplement to your dog’s food. It contains high levels of antioxidants, Vitamin E, Polyphenols and rich in monounsaturated fats.
• Feed Moist food- canned, cooked, homemade or raw.
• Feed him fish oil capsules – 1 per 30 pounds of dog a day.
• Add fresh oils and other supplements to meals
Flax seed oil (½ tsp of oil / 15 pounds twice daily) or freshly milled flax seeds (1.5 tsp / 15 pounds twice daily)
EPA / DHA from fish oil or algae (5 to 20 ml of EPA / pound of body weight / day ). You can also use olive oil as the supplement to your dog’s food.
• Nutritional Yeast (½ tsp to 1 tsp per meal)
• Add Coconut Oil to your Dog’s diet.
Coconut oil improves overall skin health and clears up skin conditions such as flea allergies, itchy skin, and dermatitis. Apply it to the dog’s skin as it heals the cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings. Coconut oil prevents and treats yeast infections. It helps moisturize the driest skin and makes a dog’s coat gleam with health.
• You can add Garlic to the dogs food. Always make sure that garlic is cooked because garlic in raw form contains sulfur which will eventually cause kidney failure.
• Bathing your Dog can remove itching to a certain extent. Use a good shampoo which have natural ingredients and less chemical to clean your dog.
You can make your own homemade shampoo for removing fleas.
Take 1 quart of water, 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of baby shampoo. Mix these 3 ingredients together and kept the solution in a spray bottle. Work the homemade shampoo into your dog’s fur, particularly along the hard to reach areas like a base of tail, the chest, under the forearms, etc. Let the shampoo soak in for at least five minutes before rinsing. Comb or brush your dog to remove the dead fleas.
If your dog has dry skin then you can add ingredients such as Glycerine (⅓ cup) and aloe vera gel (2 tablespoons) to the shampoo. These ingredients will relieve itchy and dry skin of your dog.
Some tips you can follow
Some breeds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and Cocker Spaniels, seem to be more predisposed to allergies than others. However, any dog, even a mixed breed dog, can develop allergies at any time in his life.
Manage fleas year-round. Fleas really are the most common reason why dogs get itchy.
• Don’t shave your dog’s fur all the way down to the skin. Focal clipping to remove fur over infected areas will help the skin in that specific area, but unless recommended by your veterinarian, avoid shaving the whole dog. In some cases, shaving even a healthy dog’s fur may result in fur that grows back in a different color or does not grow back at all.
• No single medication or treatment is appropriate or effective for every pet. It may take you more than one treatment to resolve the problem.
• Be aware that you’ll often be treating and managing the symptoms of itching rather than the cause. It takes time and observation to identify the triggers for your pet’s itching.