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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Top Culprits for Itching in Dogs

girl playing with a dog on the bank of the river near the bridge

Being a dog can sometimes be a bit itchy, but it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at the top causes for itching in dogs and then learn what you can do to keep your pet comfortable.

Top Causes for Itching in Dogs

Some causes of itching in dogs are obvious, and others are dog-gone sneaky. Did you realize all of these things can make your pet’s skin crawl?

Take a look at our top culprits for pruritic pooches:

Fleas – These little bugs are enough to make anyone’s skin crawl, but some pets are very sensitive to flea saliva. This means that when a flea bites, an actual allergic reaction similar to one you might have to a mosquito bite occurs. This can cause intense itching for your poor pet.

Mites – Several species of mites can live on the skin of the dog. In certain situations, these mites (usually either sarcoptic or demodectic) can grow out of control and lead to the itchy condition we often hear referred to as mange.

Bacteria/Yeast – Bacteria and yeast live on the skin all the time. There are times when they can grow out of control, though, resulting in a skin infection that leads to some pretty itchy business.

Food allergyMany pet owners jump to food allergies as a major culprit for their dog’s itchy skin, but they are not as common as one might think. Dogs who do suffer from a food allergy usually have intolerance to a protein source such as chicken, beef, or soy.

Atopy – Atopy is probably the most frustrating cause of itching in dogs. These pets have a defect in their skin, allowing allergens to enter through the skin barrier and stimulate the immune system. These itchy pets often have multiple sensitivities that can be difficult to manage.

Hives – Urticaria, the medical term for hives, can occur during an allergic reaction, such as to food, airborne allergens, or an insect bite. These raised areas can be very itchy until treated.

Contact dermatitis – Inflammation of the skin after contact with an irritating substance such as cleaning chemicals, plastics, plants, or even topical medications can result in an itchy rash. Contact dermatitis is typically seen on the underside where contact is most likely to occur.

Bug bites – Stinging insects (bees, wasps, hornets, etc.), ants, or spiders can set off quite the skin reaction depending on the circumstances.

Hot spots – This generic term for a moist skin infection results when something else gets a pet itching (fleas, allergies, fur mats, you name it) and oozing, irritated skin results. Until the underlying cause, and often resulting infection, is resolved this can be a very uncomfortable condition.

Of course there are many other causes of itching in dogs. No matter what the cause, though, there are things you can do to help.

How to Help Your Pet

If you have an itchy pet, fear not. There are many things that you can do to help your furry friend rest comfortably. To avoid and address itching in dogs, be sure to:

  • Use a quality, veterinarian recommended flea control regularly
  • Bathe your pet as directed by your veterinarian in a recommended shampoo (rinse well)
  • Feed a quality diet
  • Use foot soaks for paw lickers to remove irritants and prevent your pet from tracking allergens indoors
  • Keep your home allergens to a minimum by vacuuming and cleaning your floors regularly
  • Clean with fragrance free, non-toxic chemicals
  • Avoid applying perfumes and other scents to your pet
  • Supplement your pet with quality omega fatty acids (ask for dosing information)
  • Try an antihistamine under veterinary direction

If your pet is uncontrollably itchy, causing sores or wounds, has a bad odor, or you just can’t get the problem under control, don’t worry. The Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic is here to help you. Give us a call so that our expert staff can get to work making your itchy pooch feel better.

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