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Dog Breed Information Center® - Is your dog itchy?

Itchy Dog
Is your Dog Itchy?


There are more than 500 different things that can cause your dog to be itchy. If your dog is scratching all the time it is important to find out what is causing the itch. This can be quite difficult. While there are many common causes of canine scratching, it can take quite a bit of detective work to figure out the culprit. Try not to scratch your dog’s itchy spot for him. Believe it or not, scratching the itch will only make the dog more itchy.

There are several things you can do to ease your dog’s itch while you try to figure out, with the help of your vet, what is causing the irritating itch.

1. Bathe the dog in cool water. Warm or hot water will only make the itch worse. Soak for five to ten minutes. Adding some Epsom salts, baking soda, or colloidal oatmeal (like Aveeno) to the water will increase the soothing effects. This will provide only a temporary relief lasting from a few hours to a few days. After the bath, pat the dog with a towel. Do not rub the skin, as this will only increase the dog's itch. Do not use a hair dryer on a heat setting. A cool (no-heat) setting would be okay. Heat and rubbing the dog’s skin will increase your dog’s itch, making the bath ineffective.

2. Fatty acids, found in either marine oils or evening primrose oil, can be very effective in easing an itch. You can try giving one of these fatty acid supplements. It will take several weeks before the benefit will take effect, so they are for treating long-term problems rather than an on-off irritation. You can find these at your local health food store.

3. Antihistamines can sometimes be effective for short-term itches. For example, insect bites or a flare-up of hay fever. You can use an over-the-counter antihistamine such as clemastine (Tavist), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Be sure to consult your veterinarian first. Your vet will give you the proper dosage and tell you if this will be a good thing to try for your dog’s problem.

Top Worst Itching Offenders

1. Fleas

2. Poor Diet

3. Airborne allergens like pollen, which result in hay fever

4. Parasites, such as ear mites, scabies or cheyletiellosis, also known as walking dandruff

5. Skin infections caused by bacteria

6. Ticks and lice

7. Food allergies

8. Fungal infections, including yeast infections

9. Seborrhea

10. Contact allergies

11. Whole-body illnesses, such as liver disease, immune-system problems and some cancers.

12. Ear infection



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