How to help your dog's itchy skin

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What causes itchy skin and how can you treat it? Dr Katrina Warren shares some handy tips on how you can help stop the scratch!

Dr Katrina Warren's tips on how to help your dog's itchy skin:

Many dogs suffer from itchy skin – in fact, itchy skin is one of the most common reasons that dogs are taken to the vet.

Persistent itching can result in a dog constantly scratching and biting their skin. Itchy dogs can also develop secondary skin infections and lesions as a result of all the scratching.

Itchy skin can be caused by a number of things such as fleas, infections, allergies, or insect bites.

It can also be caused by chemicals and irritants in some shampoos and conditioners. Once the skin's barrier breaks down it can’t protect itself against allergens and irritants in the environment, drying the skin out further and making them itchier. So it’s a vicious cycle!

The most common causes of itchy skin are fleas, allergies and food intolerance and here are some tips that may help.

  • Always consult your vet first! Your vet may prescribe medication to stop the intense itching and will develop a plan to determine the cause of the itch
  • Fleas are one of the most common causes of itchy skin in pets. Flea bites are extremely irritating and in some pets a single flea bite can cause a very aggravating skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis. Your pet may frantically scratch and bite their coat and may lick themselves constantly. Make sure your pet’s flea treatment is up to date. Choose a flea product that breaks the flea life cycle. Your vet can advise you of the best product for your situation. Also, be diligent with cleaning your pet’s environment which includes thoroughly vacuuming floorboards, carpets and couches and washing bedding.
  • Human shampoo is formulated for human skin. Human shampoos may strip natural oils from your dog’s coat and may irritate your pet’s skin causing them to itch so stick to a formulated pet shampoo and choose a product that is sulfate and soap free.
  • Use a soothing shampoo and conditioner that will also look after the skin barrier health. Use a sulphate free shampoo like PAW NutriDerm® replenishing shampoo, which is a gentle hypoallergenic, sulphate free and soap free formulation that will cleanse and moisturise without stripping the skin of natural oils.
  • Condition your dog’s coat and skin after shampooing to rehydrate, moisturise and to replenish the skin barrier
  • Groom your dog daily to keep their coat clean and help remove dirt and allergens that may irritate the skin - a great way to spend quality time with your pet. Rinse or wipe your dog’s paws after going outside to remove grass and pollen.
  • A diet rich in omega 3 & 6 fatty acids may help, or you can consider a dog-specific oral omega supplement such as PAW Dermega® to maintain coat and skin health.
  • If your dog has been scratching or chewing in one particular spot and it has become red and tender, you can use PAW TriDerm calming gel® containing key skin nutrients including colloidal oatmeal, aloe, chamomile & pro vitamin B5 to cool & calm sensitive skin.
  • If food is suspected to be causing the itch – your vet can help develop a plan to eliminate various foods from the diet.