I love working in the pet industry. I learn something new all the time. In the pet industry, you tend to see different causes for pet owner complaints. There is no exception when it comes to the popular “itchy dog syndrome.” There are many different ways to find out these culprit behind an itchy dog. There are different ways to help cure or ease itchy dog syndrome, too. Many which pet owners are not aware of. You’re not alone if you have a dog who won’t stop scratching. In my experience, an itchy dog is a common pet owner complaint.
The pet industry is the only field I have known for 10+ years. I am thankful for that. Throughout the years my pet care knowledge has expanded. It’s a great field. You learn something new everyday. My first run in with the industry was in retail. I worked a short while at a local big box pet supply store. But, I didn’t gain much knowledge there. I’m sure if I stayed longer I would have learned more. But, that’s okay. Because it led me to greater learning opportunities.
For 5 years I had the pleasure of working at a veterinary clinic. I began as a kennel technician. For that clinic, that position was no joke. The hours were long. They were often sporadic. I spent more in gas than what I made most weeks. The work was dirty. But, that’s a given in the pet industry. I didn’t just clean kennels all day. I restrained animals. I also answered phone, educated pet owners, assisted with exams, and so much more. Plus, I studied a few veterinary technology classes during this time through San Juan College.
Now, for the past 3 years, my life revolves around a local grooming salon. This place has became home. We aren’t just coworkers. We’re a family. Thanks to my girls here I have had the opportunity to attend the Atlanta Pet Fair two years in a row. I also got my first certification in Pet CPR/First Aid. Plus, I’ve been able to expand my pet care knowledge. Not just because I see the industry at a different angel. But, because I am finally comfortable where I am. The knowledge is available but I can experience it and dive into it.
Working in a veterinary clinic and grooming salon is educational. But, educational on different levels. You also see pet owner complaints in both the veterinary and grooming fields. Sometimes the complaints are the same. Sometimes the complaints vary. There is one pet owner complaint I hear daily. That’s the “itchy dog syndrome.”
Itchy Dog: Common Culprits
- Insect Bites (fleas, ants, ticks, bees, spiders, etc.)
- Allergies (pollen, mold, food, soap, pesticides, etc.)
- Winter Weather Dry Skin
- Fatty Acid Deficiencies
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Pain (sore, arthritis, etc.)
Narrowing Down The Itchy Dog Culprit
- Rid your pet of fleas and put them on monthly flea and tick preventive. There is a common misconception when it comes to flea and tick prevention. The prevention will not keep the pests off your pet. It will kill them off if they bite your pet. You have to ensure where your pet stays is flea and tick free. Make sure to wash and vacuum everything. Your home and yard may need a flea treatment from a pest control company.
- Eliminate foods that contain triggers that often cause allergies in pets. Some of these common food allergy triggers include: dairy, wheat, beef, egg, lamb, chicken, soy, rabbit, pork, and fish. Make sure to read your pet food labels and eliminate some of these different allergen culprits.
- Make sure your pets coat is clean and free of any debris. Sometimes a dirty or coat that isn’t cared for may cause itching.
It may be smart to take an itchy dog to the vet. Especially if the dog has visible sores, whines, loses their appetite, or acts ill at all. A veterinary visit should take place if the itching interferes in their usual activity. Also if you notice hair loss, redness, swelling, discoloration, or lumps and bumps. There are many uncomfortable and even life threatening issues that may cause an itchy dog.
More Itchy Dog Culprits
- Allergic Dermatitis
- Yeast Infection
- Poor Nutrition
- Sarcoptic Mange
- Demodectic Mange
- Hot Spots
- Thyroid Disease
- Impacted Anal Gland
Allergy Testing To Find The Itchy Dog Culprit
Many veterinary offices offer a comprehensive allergy panel to find out the true culprit. They range in price range from $150+. The test if often sent to a laboratory. The results are available soon after the lab receives the sample. Usually all that is required is a few blood samples from your pet. The price may seem high. But, I have read many copies of these detailed test. These things list every possible allergy out there. Allergies you would not even think of. Including the grass that grows outside your front door! These tests are specific. I think they are worth it.
A veterinary may complete a skin scrape on an itchy dog. This is done at the clinic. The procedure is simple, painless, and fast. The veterinary is able to view results under a microscope. The test is also affordable. Prices range anywhere from $25 and up. The microscopic skin scrap view test is limited. But, some skin scrape contents may be sent to a lab for a more comprehensive review.
What A Dog Skin Scrape May Show
- Sarcoptes Mites
- Demodex Mites
- Cheyletiella Mites
- Cancer Cells
- Other Parasites
Black Light Test
The black light test is a popular method to see what may cause an itchy dog. Shining a black light over a dog in the dark can reveal an infection.
- A Green Glow: May indicate a fungal infection like ringworm.
Helping Relieve An Itchy Dog
It’s important to identify the culprit of an itchy dog. Once you identify the culprit, you can help eliminate the problem or at least keep the dog comfortable. Because, we all know that being itchy is far from comfortable.
- Fleas/Insects/Ticks Make sure to rid the environment of any possible pests. Vacuum and launder all belongings that you can. Make sure the surrounding area is treated. Even if you have to call in pest control. Keep your pet on a monthly flea and tick preventive. Also, make sure your pet is free of fleas. Give your pet a good bath or visit a groomer. In the veterinary clinic we often used a pill called Capstar in severe cases. It can be purchased at veterinary clinics and pet stores.
- Food Allergies Make sure to read the ingredients on all pet food and treats. Make sure the food doesn’t contain any possible allergy triggers.
- Skin Infections/Mites/Disease If your pet is diagnosed with a skin infection, mites, or disease that causes itchy dog syndrome your veterinary may recommend different treatments. These may include special, frequent shampoos, ointments, or medications. Make sure to do exactly what your veterinary recommends. This ensures the best result.
- Hygiene Care Making sure your dog is clean can also reduce constant scratching. Make sure your dog is bathed in shampoo suitable for dogs and for their breed. Also make sure the coat is free of debris and matting. If you are unsure on how to care for your dogs coat, consult a veterinarian or groomer.
Home Remedies For Itchy Dogs
What if your dogs scratching isn’t severe? You may want to try a few home remedies before visit a veterinarian. But, remember this only applies for mild cases of itchy dog syndrome. Not for those with red or swollen skin. Also not for those with hair loss and open wounds.
When in doubt, always consult with a veterinarian. An itchy dog may have underlying problem. This should be addressed with a pet professional. None of these home remedies replace the expert advice from a veterinarian. Plus, I can’t be held accountable for the outcome of any of these home remedies. These are just some that I have seen work for some itchy dogs during my pet industry career.
You can apply Vitamin E to a dogs skin or add it to their bath. It’s beneficial for the health of their skin.
Using coconut oil is another great way to help ease itchy dog syndrome. Just mix a little into your dogs food. Plus, it’s a yummy treat for them, too.
There are many herbs available that may soothe an itchy dog. Some of these herbs include:
- Rose Bark
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is great for those pesky hot spots. All you have to do is spray 50/50 water and apple cider vinegar onto the spot.
Olive oil is a simple solution when it comes to alleviating an itchy dog. Just add a tablespoon to your dogs food maybe 3 times a week. Then watch the transformation!
Yep, you can feed your dog good ole plain, low-fat yogurt. This will help fight pesky yeast. Yeast is a common culprit in an itchy dog.
There are many different types of teas that can help alleviate the itch.
- Green Tea
Epsom Salt Soaks
An epsom salt soak is great for any itchy, inflamed sores your dog may have.
I love baking soda. It has many uses. There’s no exception when it comes to an itchy dog. You can mix a cup of baking soda to the water when you bathe your dog.
I know, pet lovers. It’s that scary forbidden word. The word aspirin. But, you aren’t giving your dog aspirin by mouth. You have to mix two crushed aspirins with a small amount of rubbing alcohol. This mixture can be applied to itchy sores with a cotton ball.
For months we battled excessive paw licking with our senior Carolina Dog mix, Mack. After food and environment changes, the paw licking continued. Then we found out our old man was in pain. He was suffering from arthritis. Now he’s on daily medication to help ease the pain of arthritis. The paw licking has stopped.
Treating him isn’t the cheapest route. We could have dealt with the paw licking. But, he was uncomfortable. That wasn’t fair to him. The medication costs about $60/month. Plus, he has to have blood work done every 6 months. The medication may interact with his organ functions. So, making sure he’s healthy is important. The blood work runs about $110 every six months.
Are you a pet parent who battles with paw licking, an itchy dog, or dog allergies in general? How do you combat them? I’d love more ideas. Especially if I face this battle again in the future.