Has Fido’s itching got you down? If so, you’re not alone. Veterinarians report that incessant itching is the second leading reason people choose to schedule a vet visit for their pets. Unfortunately, getting to the bottom of what causes the itching can be challenging at best, and without being able to get to the root of the problem, you can only treat symptoms not alleviate the itching altogether. It’s frustrating to watch your beloved pet suffer. Is there more you can do for a pet with itchy skin?
Something to Itch About
Dealing with constant itchiness in a pet can be very disheartening. There are several different problems which could result in a case of the itchies, but it can be very difficult to pinpoint just which one is afflicting your dog.
Here Is a List of Some Possible Causes for Dog Itching
Humidity plays a large role in the condition of your dog’s skin. Dry skin is typically easy for an owner to identify. If you move aside the hair to get to the skin, dry skin is evidenced by flakes of what appear to be dandruff. If the skin is overly pink or even slightly leathery in appearance, you are most likely dealing with a case of dryness.
Believe it or not, diet has a significant impact on coat and skin health. Though many high quality pet foods contain oils which are essential for proper wellness, kibbles have been subject to a process which removes moisture from foods to encourage longer shelf stability. As a result, consumption of kibbles and other dry foods begins to dehydrate the things that need moisture the most: skin and hair.
Dry skin and poor nutrition are problems which are far more easily treatable. Allergies are a whole other ball of wax.
Today’s scientists are as befuddled by what causes allergies as they are in how to treat them. Some suggest that allergies may have a genetic component while others believe they can result from overvaccination or poor diet. The bottom line is we really don’t know what causes the problem any more than we know how to eliminate it for good.
Determining precisely what your dog may be allergic to is an incredibly challenging process. Food allergies are simpler to identify and eliminate than an allergy to an environmental stimulus. If your dog is allergic to something like grass, there is little that can be done to permanently alleviate an immune response to this naturally occurring substance. For many dogs, allergies can never be permanently alleviated, but there are some things that we can do for them that will at least help to alleviate the discomfort of constant itching.
The number one concern of pet owners is providing relief for their pets suffering from itchiness and raw skin from continual scratching. Left untreated incessant licking of skin and hair or chewing and scratching can lead to bacterial and yeast infections which exacerbate the problem and are incredibly difficult to treat. Yet there are some options owners can employ to help their dogs find a respite from non-stop itching. Here is a list of some of the top solutions for pets suffering from itchiness:
Since shampoos which contain fragrance can act as an irritant to already inflamed skin, it is important to only bath your dog with things that will put moisture back into the skin and prevent further agitation. Pet shampoos which contain added natural emollients such as coconut oil or shea butters will help to soothe the itchiness and provide a layer of protection for the skin to repair itself.
Shampoos which contain oatmeal or simply running a bath in warm water enriched with baking soda can help your dog to feel immeasurably better. Always couple weekly baths with regular brushing to help remove any residual skin and hair that might further irritate your dog’s skin. Keeping the skin and hair clean and dry is a great boost to skin health.
There are a variety of topical medications on the market today that you can purchase to apply to your dog’s skin to reduce itchiness and irritation. Among the best is a product called Soothe Spray by Show Season. This medicated spray contains 3 percent Chlorhexidine and Benzyl Alcohol which work in conjunction to take the “ouch” out of raw and agitated skin. This product not only works well for itchiness, but it also reduces pain from hot spots and other painful conditions of the skin. A stronger version of chlorhexidine can also be purchased from your veterinarian with a prescription. The more potent variety is reserved for more serious cases of skin irritation.
Benadryl administered in the correct dosage for your dog’s weight can provide some relief from allergies and intermittent itching. However, many dogs suffer from itchiness that is chronic and need something that will provide a more permanent form of relief. For dogs such as this, a prescription medication such as Apoquel is an excellent choice. Apoquel is a non-steroidal veterinary pharamaceutical given once or twice daily. Apoquel is fast-acting, providing relief in as little as four hours and lasting between 12-24 hours before an additional dose is required. Apoquel essentially works by suppressing the immune response to an allergen. As a result, itching is stopped in its tracks, providing immense relief for your dog.
Other medications are also an option including Vanectyl-P, Atopica, or Cytopoint injections. The efficacy of each varies from dog to dog, and there are risks associated with each of them. Vanectyl-P, in particular, is of serious concern as it is a steroid, and there are long term negative effects your dog will sustain from prolonged use of this medication.
Adding oils to your dog’s regular diet is an excellent way to ensure his skin and hair remains healthy and strong. Fish oils are particularly helpful including wild salmon and cod liver oil. Omega 3 fatty acids and flax seed oil are also of great benefit.
Probiotics and digestive enzymes
Keeping your dog’s immune system healthy is a great way to promote health from within. If your dog must be on a medication to prevent itchiness, a probiotic supplement will be even more important for your dog. Probiotics are available from your vet in powdered form but can also be purchased at quality pet stores. In a pinch, you can even add full fat yogurt or cottage cheese to your dog’s diet. Be sure to choose a yogurt has the most live bacterial cultures.
Digestive enzymes also ensure that your dog’s food is processed properly and thus is able to provide maximum impact on his body. These can be purchased in powder form from high quality pet retailers and are simply added to your dog’s food each mealtime.
A homecooked, raw, or “wet” diet
Replacing dry foods with a diet that is high in moisture will also help to contribute to healthy skin and nails. While a raw or home cooked diet is preferable, you can also simply add an excellent quality canned food into your dog’s regular kibble or simply use it to replace kibble altogether. This simple switch can have maximum impact.
If your dog is constantly itching, you know how hard it is for a pet owner to watch. But don’t despair. There are things you can do to help your favorite furry friend to start feeling better. Give some of these tips a try today!