Your dog’s constant licking and scratching may be much more than an annoying habit. These kinds of behaviors are linked to a variety of canine skin conditions. Just like people, dogs can suffer from a number of skin maladies—but unlike people, they can’t tell you about it verbally. If you’re looking for dog itchy skin relief, make sure you know the exact problem that’s causing the itch so you can be sure your dog dermatitis treatment will work.
Understand the causes of allergic dermatitis and skin conditions in dogs and how to soothe dogs itchy skin so you can help your best friend feel great again.
What causes skin conditions in dogs?
There is no foolproof way to diagnose canine skin conditions and other maladies without a veterinarian, so take your dog in for diagnostic tests to find out precisely what’s causing the problem. However, here are some of the most common causes of itchy skin in dogs:
- Allergies: Dogs have allergies too, and sometimes they’re severe. Your dog may either be intolerant or completely allergic to his dog food or grooming products, or even to environmental factors like mold, insect bites, pollen or dust. Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory, chronic skin disease associated with allergies. In fact, this is the second most common allergic skin disease in dogs.
- Hormonal imbalances: Too little or too much of certain canine hormones can cause itchy skin.
- Parasites: This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget that mites, lice, ticks and fleas all have the potential to irritate your dog’s skin. Mange, for example, is caused by mites.
- Seborrhea: More commonly known as dandruff, seborrhea also occurs in dogs and causes greasy, scaly skin. This is usually the sign of some other unresolved issue like a hormonal imbalance when it occurs in dogs.
- Bacterial infections: Bacterial infections are often at the root of your pet’s skin problems. Folliculitis is a kind of bacterial infection that causes bumps, scaly patches and other itchy problems on the skin; impetigo is another bacterial infection that is common in dogs.
- Fungal infections: Fungal infections are another source of itchy skin in dogs. Yeast is a fungus that commonly infects the ears and paws of dogs; ringworm is another fungal infection that afflicts dogs with very itchy skin.
My dog has itchy skin, but is it really a skin condition?
To what type of canine itchy skin relief treatments might work, make sure your dog is suffering from an actual skin condition. Normal skin in dogs will have these characteristics:
- Soft and smooth
- No redness or flaking
- Not excessively oily, not excessively dry
- No hair loss
Signs of skin diseases in dogs include:
- Bad skin odor
- Crusty, thick patches of skin or scabs
- Flaky or scaly patches
- Hair loss
- Excessive itching, licking, rubbing or scratching
- Red patches, pimples or spots
IMPORTANT: Remember, there are more than 160 different skin disorders in dogs, and many of them cause itching! See your pet’s veterinarian for a diagnosis.
The importance of nutrition
Fortunately, there are natural treatments you can pursue for dog itchy skin relief. Excellent nutrition should be the first weapon in your dog itchy skin treatment arsenal:
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants like Vitamin E are essential to maintaining a healthy canine immune system and to protect your dog’s system from free radicals and cellular oxidation.
- Essential fatty acids: For well-nourished skin, your dog’s food should contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These can be found naturally in fish oil, and they help control inflammation, prevent dryness and otherwise protect your dog’s skin.
- Protein: High-quality protein provides the building blocks to repair damaged skin. Feeding unique protein sources, such as venison or duck, can also help reduce reaction in dogs with a food allergy or intolerances to more common ingredients.
If you feed your pet a food that contains a good combination of these critical nutrients you can manage your dog’s skin condition more easily.
Whether you’re a dog or a human, great nutrition is essential to your health and well-being. Balanced nutrition allows your pet to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. Excellent nutrition is even more important when your dog has a skin problem.
For accurate diagnosis and treatment options, always consult your veterinarian and ask them to recommend the best products for your dog’s skin condition.
See our Breed Guide for more specifics on your pet.
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