It is one of the most common health problems that we see at The Androscoggin Animal Hospital; the dog that won’t stop itching. They may be licking, biting their skin and feet, or scratching. They may have ear infections or rashes on their skin. It looks uncomfortable, it keeps us up at night, and it can be stinky!
What Causes the Itch?
Itching can be caused by parasites, infections, or allergies. The workup for the itchy dog start with ruling out parasites and infections. Infections may be the primary issue or a secondary issue. If it is a secondary issue, it is important to clear up the infections before pursuing further testing to avoid confounding factors.
- Fleas: Appropriate flea control using a safe and effective product.
- Mites: Either finding the mites with skin scrapes, treating without finding them, or both
- Bacterial or yeast infections: finding the bacteria and yeast by looking at the skin and using appropriate treatment for infections.
If infections are not the cause, then allergic causes can be pursued. The three most common allergic causes of itchiness are;
- Atopy (environmental allergies)
Once the infectious causes and fleas have been eliminated, an appropriate food trial should be attempted. Atopy (or contact/inhalant dermatitis) can be considered and management attempted.
How Do I stop the Itch?
Relieving the itch generally depends on what is causing the itch. Topical therapy starting with shampoo can be helpful. Consult with your Veterinarian when choosing a product, but generally an oatmeal shampoo works well. We recommend avoiding human shampoos, dish soap, shampoo with heavy fragrance, or medicated shampoos (unless directed by your Veterinarian). Your Veterinarian may choose a different product based on the specific cause of your pets itching. These may include;
- Antibacterial shampoo
- Anti-fungal shampoo
- Shampoo for dry or greasy skin
- Anti-itch shampoo
Make sure that you work the shampoo into the coat and skin, and allow it to sit on your pet for 10 minutes to achieve the desired results. Wetting the coat thoroughly with luke warm water, and applying the shampoo with your hands (rather than directly to the coat) works best. Make sure to rinse the shampoo off completely.
Antibiotics and antifungals