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By Jamie Stowell
13th April 2022

help! my dog is itchy & won't stop scratching!

Reviewed by Dr. Ailsa Rutherford
Wednesday 13th April 2022

Like people, your dog can become incredibly sensitive and itchy due to allergies, pests, poor hygiene, skin conditions, and more. These irritations can cause your dog to compulsively scratch, lick and chew their skin, hurting themselves. Thankfully, after figuring out the cause, alleviating and preventing further itching will be much easier.

Symptoms

In addition to the obvious scratching, chewing, and constant licking, many secondary symptoms can occur when chronic skin irritation and breakdown of the natural skin barrier can cause hair loss, hot spots, swelling and even skin infections.

The irritating itch can cover their entire body, or it may be localised to a specific area, such as their ears or rear end. Some dogs may also scoot their bottom along the floor or ground or wiggle side-to-side on their back to scratch the itch.

Potential Causes

Pests

Pests are a common cause of intense itching in pets. Fleas, ticks, mites, lice, and mosquitos cause initial irritation and discomfort by crawling around and biting your pet and secondary issues such as a build-up of flea dirt, dermatitis, sarcoptic mange, and potential allergic reactions.

Although the idea of bugs causing your dog’s itching is gross and unsettling, it is thankfully relatively easy to fix. Preventatives can be given to your dog in the form of topical applications, oral pills or supplements, or injections.

Dietary Allergies

Another common cause of your dog’s constant itching is food allergies. If you haven’t changed your dog’s diet, they may have developed an intolerance to an ingredient in their regular food.

Whether their diet has changed or remained the same, you should work with your veterinarian to find a new food for your dog to stop the itching. The vet may want to run some allergy tests, outline an elimination diet plan, or trial foods designed for dogs with allergies or sensitive stomachs.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies, including seasonal allergens, can be another reason your dog is constantly itching. Many everyday aspects of your dog’s life, such as dust, dander, pollen, grass, or mould, can cause allergic reactions, including red, inflamed skin, swelling, hives, and itching.

Like other allergies, this is best diagnosed and treated with the help of a veterinarian. After performing tests to determine your dog’s allergic triggers, the vet can recommend the best ways to treat your dog's environmental allergies. Treatments can include supplements, creams, cortisone, regular antihistamines, and dietary hemp seed oil supplementation to help regulate immune response and restore the natural skin barrier.

You should opt for closed windows and air conditioning if your dog’s environmental allergies are outdoor allergens such as grass or pollen. Additionally, you can wipe down your dog’s paws and body with a damp towel after coming in from outside to remove allergens.

Dogs with indoor environmental allergies, like dander, dust, or soot, will prefer a tidy, clean home. It can help keep your dog out of a room while dusting, vacuuming, or sweeping. Changing any air, furnace, or purifier filters regularly can also help remove allergens from the air in your home.

Poor Hygiene

Before you assume that a dog’s hygiene doesn’t matter, think of how refreshed you feel after a shower and how gross and uncomfortable you would feel if you didn’t bathe for a while. Like for people, poor hygiene in dogs can cause irritation, itching, skin conditions, and even infections.

Whether you prefer an outdoor hose, in the bathtub, or at a grooming salon, it's important to ensure your dog is bathed on a regular schedule on top of any time she is extra dirty or stinky. It is also beneficial to clean your dog’s bedding, crate, or anywhere else she spends a lot of time lying down. Not only will this help prevent itchy skin, but it will also keep your dog feeling and smelling good!

More information on causes and symptoms of itchy skin in Dog Allergies, Atopic Dermatitis and How to Treat and Prevent Itchy Skin.

Natural Remedies

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is a common natural remedy for itchy paws that can help remove some of the allergens that accumulate. It is best used by mixing one part of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with one part of warm tap water and applying it to your dog with a spray bottle. Be sure to avoid your dog’s eyes, ears, and any open wounds, as they may burn.

Dietary Hemp Seed Oil

Dietary hemp seed oil like BUDDYPET Marley is a very popular daily supplement that supports healthy skin and coat. In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, the hemp seed oil is also high in antioxidants and essential omegas, which can reduce and alleviate inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), improve skin barriers and reduce symptoms of skin allergies. Follow the dosage instructions on the bottle and include it in your dog's regular diet for great results!

Topical Hemp Seed Oil

Thanks to its natural anti-inflammatory action, hemp seed oil is a great way to soothe your dog’s itchy skin and prevent further irritation. You can rub it directly into your dog’s most problematic areas as often as necessary since it is pet-safe and non-toxic. We highly recommend BUDDYPET Toby – a soothing skin balm with a unique blend of natural oils, including hemp seed oil and hemp terpenes, for an effective anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial relief.

Oatmeal

Long-recognized for its soothing properties, using oatmeal in your dog’s bath is safe, non-toxic, and smells great. You should grind two to three cups of dry oatmeal into a fine powder using a blender, grinder, or mortar and pestle. Add the oatmeal to your dog’s warm bath and allow it to sit for approximately 15 minutes before rinsing off. Do NOT use oat if your dog is itching due to a yeast infection. Oat is a source of carbohydrates, which will only make yeast thrive.

Aloe Vera

The juice of Aloe Vera plant leaves is antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. You can get aloe vera gel from most pharmacies. Apply it directly to the affected areas. You can squeeze the juice straight from the plant, but make sure your dog doesn’t ingest it as the leaf contains saponins, which work as a laxative that can make your dog sick. We recommend using a ready-made aloe vera gel which will also come with a pleasant cooling effect to help reduce discomfort.

Additionally, as part of your regular grooming routine, we recommend 100% natural BUDDYPET Maisie or BUDDYPET Poppy hemp shampoo – both are uniquely formulated with hemp seed oil, oatmeal extract, aloe vera juice and vitamin E (antioxidant) for dogs with sensitive skin, dry, itchy skin or dandruff.

Read our Groomers’ Guide to Bathing and Grooming Your Dog at Home.

 

Photo by Sebastian Coman Travel on Pexels

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