Why does my dog have itchy skin?


Why does my dog have itchy skin?

Featured Quote:

So there's honestly a lot of reasons why your dog could scratch, lick or chew their skin. A lot of times what we think of is there's usually three primary concerns that can cause itchy skin, and then from there there's a whole host of secondary concerns.

Video Transcript:

Hi, I'm Dr. Hill. I'm an associate veterinarian at Advanced Animal Care in Berea. And today we are going to be talking about why pets itch so much.

 

What is causing my dog to scratch, lick or chew his or her skin?

 

So there's honestly a lot of reasons why your dog could scratch, lick or chew their skin. A lot of times what we think of is there's usually three primary concerns that can cause itchy skin, and then from there there's a whole host of secondary concerns.

 

But the three primary concerns that we worry about are things like external parasites. So fleas, ticks, or mites can all cause itchy skin. We think about things like food allergies. So if your dog has a sensitivity to a protein in its diet, that can relate out as itchy skin. And the last one is environmental allergies or what we like to call atopy - where your dog has allergic reactions to things that might be going on in the environment.

 

And to speak of that myself, I've got a little stinker here who suffers from atopy. He has allergies to things that go on in the outdoors during the warmer months. So he's on special medications from about March to October to combat that. But those are usually where it starts.

 

And then from there we can get things like secondary bacterial infections, secondary fungal infections, a whole host of different things that can even add and/or compound the itch factor in your pet.

 

My dog has scabs on her neck or at the base of her tail. What is causing this?

 

So a lot of times the first thing that we think of when we're getting really itchy bums and scabs around our bum and around the base of our neck, we're always looking for fleas because that's the first place that fleas like to go to, to try to bite your pet. And some pets even have an allergic sensitivity to the saliva that the flea produces, which we call flea allergy dermatitis. So some pets react more strongly to flea bites than others and it can create a pretty severe allergic reaction that can make your pet extremely itchy.

 

So what are the complications of itchy skin?

 

Yeah, so one of the complications that can occur when your pet is chewing or scratching a lot is they can actually cause breaks in the skin. And the way I like to describe skin is like a brick wall with mortar.

 

And so when they're chewing and scratching, we get cracks between those bricks and that mortar. And there's bacteria that naturally live on the skin surface that once they get into those cracks they can cause a lot of inflammation and cause a secondary infection. So a lot of itching and scratching, chewing, things like that, can cause a lot of surface abrasion and inflammation, but also allow the set up for secondary infection, which will need treatment usually.

 

Can anxiety or stress contribute to my dog's itchiness?

 

So that's not something uncommon that we see. We can see a lot of dogs that have separation anxiety. They have just general anxiety, storm anxiety, noise anxiety, things like that. Sometimes they project that anxiety as a chewing or scratching behavior or sometimes acting like they are itchy. So it really takes a good trip to your vet to make sure that we're not seeing evidence of any of those primary issues. So like fleas, ticks, mites, or food allergy, or environmental allergy that we're not seeing any signs of secondary infection. And then to really talk about the anxiety part of it, because we actually do have some pets that we see here at the clinic that we were able to put them on medication for their anxiety and it completely alleviated their chewing, itching and scratching.

 

How can I help soothe my dog's itchy skin?

 

So for at home care there are some things that you can always try. The safest one to give a shot, if you feel like your dog's really itchy or scratching before you take it to the vet would be maybe trying some Benadryl, which we always recommend Benadryl at one milligram per pound. But if you're concerned or you have any questions, feel free to call your vet first to get a more appropriate dosage.

 

The other thing that I always recommend for owners to try is getting a pet-safe oatmeal-based shampoo, because the colloids in the oatmeal can be really helpful to help repair that brick and mortar that is the skin. But if you're really worried about it or if the oatmeal shampoo or a little bit of Benadryl doesn't seem to get your pet any relief, then I definitely recommend making an appointment with your vet to have your pet's skin checked out.

 

So if you have any questions about your pet's skin or you're worried that there might be something going on, feel free to give us a call to ask us about it. Or you can schedule an appointment. Our phone number is area code (859) 985-5678.

Share this Content