Your dog’s constant licking and scratching may be much more than just an annoying habit. These kinds of behaviors are linked to a variety of dog skin problems. 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.
Common Skin Conditions in Dogs
There is no foolproof way to diagnose canine skin conditions and other dog skin disorders without a veterinarian, so take your dog in for diagnostic tests to find out precisely what’s causing the problem. However, dog owners should be aware of the most common skin diseases and problems 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. It’s important to know what kind of dog food your pet can eat before switching formulas. Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory, chronic skin disease associated with allergies. In fact, this is the second most common allergic skin disease in dogs. Learn more about the various types of dog skin allergies to see if this is the cause of your dog’s discomfort.
- 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, also known as scabies, is caused by mites. Flea bites are one of the more common causes of a skin rash caused by a parasite.
- Seborrhea: More commonly known as dandruff, seborrhea also occurs in dogs and causes greasy, scaly skin. This is usually a 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 infections. Folliculitis is a kind of bacterial infection that causes bumps, scaly patches and other itchy problems on the skin; impetigo is another bacterial skin 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.
- Cysts in dogs: lumps under the skin that are benign. These can be caused by blocked oil ducts, infections, allergic reactions, or injury.
See our Breed Guide for more specifics on your pet.
My dog has itchy skin, but is it really a skin condition?
Most dogs will get a little itchy from time to time, but how do you know when it’s a 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
Symptoms of Skin Conditions in Dogs
- 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
- Excessively dry or oily skin
- Odor or bad smell from skin
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 in Treating Dog Skin Conditions
Fortunately, there are natural treatments you can pursue for dog itchy skin relief, and it starts with nutrition and the right dog food formula.
A dog’s diet is often overlooked, but almost every breed of dog has food sensitivities, either due to genetics or the fact that many dogs are fed the same food for months or even years, with no variety in ingredients or alternative sources of nutrition.
Skin lesions or itching along with red and inflamed ears and possibly diarrhea, are classic signs of food allergies. A dull, coarse ‘staring’ coat and / or oily, smelly skin are hallmarks of a poor quality diet being fed.
Excellent nutrition should be the first weapon in your arsenal. Making sure your dog has a healthy dose of the following nutrients in its diet is a good place to start.
- 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.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is great for your dog’s coat and general health. Simply mix some into your dog’s meal. There are dog-specific brands, but human brands are fine. There are also treats that include coconut.
- Yogurt: Plain, low-fat yogurt is not only a healthy treat, but a boost to your dog’s immune system. It keeps the good bacteria in your dog’s intestines in balance and helps keep yeast infections at bay.
- Dandelion greens, celery, spinach and lettuce are all foods that can help cool a dog’s body, which can help with irritated skin.
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 problem.