Itchy Dog: Causes and Solutions

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Itchy skin, excessive scratching, persistent licking, hot spots, rashes, ear problems, face rubbing, skin redness, paw chewing, irritable behavior, scabbing, low energy and loss of hair!  WOW… quite a list of behaviors that might be driving you and your dog crazy!  So what could be causing all of these “issues"? The answer could be anything from parasites (fleas and mange mites being the most common culprits) to allergies or simply bathing your dog too much! 

If fleas are the problem a Capstar tablet offers a quick start to solving the problem.  Fast acting and safe, Capstar begins working in 30 minutes.  Because it works for about 24 hours it will be important to use in conjunction with either a topical product such as Frontline Plus or ZoGuard Plus, a flea & tick collar such as Seresto,  or a spray such as BioSpot Active Care.  Remember to treat the premises and your pets bedding for comprehensive flea control.  Advantage Yard & Premise spray or Enforcer Flea Spray for Homes are just a couple of many products from which to choose.

If your dog has dry skin, you will notice flakes of dandruff and his skin may be cracked and tough.  Sometimes even a gentle touch can stimulate your dog to scratch violently.  Dry skin can be caused by not only environmental factors but by diet as well.  Commercial pet foods often process out the good oils, so it’s important to add a good digestive enzyme, such as Davis MultiZymes, to your dog’s meals.

Allergies can cause your dog to have dry skin, greasy skin and coat, or even slightly dry and oily, often accompanied by chewing, licking and scratching.  Causes for allergies can be many and varied.  Some veterinarians believe aggressive vaccine protocols, poor breeding and even the food our dogs eat could be to blame.  Regardless of the cause, we all want to make our companions comfortable and itch free.

Itchy, smelly ears often go hand in hand with allergies.  ZYMOX Ear Cleanser & ZYMOX Ear Solution are “go to” products for ear issues, as they destroy bacterial, viral & fungal microorganisms.  ZYMOX offers broad spectrum, once a day treatment and relief for inflamed & infected ears. 

Sometimes the first sign you see that your dog is feeling itchy is that she will be chewing her paws.  To specifically target paw licking, I recommend PAW by Omega Paw.  It cleans, disinfects and sanitizes your dog’s paws by targeting bacteria, viruses, mold, yeast, fungi and germs.

What else can you do to help your dog?  Make sure you are not over bathing, as it tends to dry the skin and coat.  Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner and avoid blow dryers. 

Feed moist food, canned, cooked, homemade or raw, in addition to or instead of commercially prepared dry kibble.   If you’re adding digestive enzymes, add to every meal and make sure it contains 2 to 10 billion CFUs of probiotic bacteria per day.  Remember to add oils such as Yummy Chummies Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil or supplements, Davis Theracoat or K9 ShowStopper to each meal as well.

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Renee Jones-Lewis is a certified professional dog trainer, having received instruction from canine behaviorist Dr. Pamela Reid, plus nationally acclaimed trainers: Patricia McConnell, Pia Silvani, and Jean Donaldson, to name a few. She is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the Internation Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).  She serves as a Pet Marketing and Canine Specialist for JeffersPet and JeffersPet.com.

Questions about this article, training or non-emergent health concerns are welcome. Renee can be reached most days from 9am – 5pm Central Time (Mon-Fri) at 1-800-JEFFERS (533-3377) ext 381 or by email rsjones@jefferspet.com
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Information given here is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way, intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed veterinarian.


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  • JM from Chicago

    My beautiful pup is a little over a year old and every summer she loses her hair on both sides of her body. The vet said allergies but her skin is healthy just dry. Help me please!!!

  • RH from Martinez

    JM: There are many questions that will need to be answered before we can help. Please give Renee a call at 1-800-533-3377 (1-800-JEFFERS) ext 381 or email her at rsjones@jefferspet.com for some ideas on how to help. Thanks

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