Why is my dog itchy?
Dogs get itchy from time to time – sometimes the trigger is obvious and sometimes it isn’t, and when it isn’t it can be so hard to watch your baby suffer while you try all the different remedies on the planet. With so many elements that can be associated with skin symptoms, it can be hard to determine the exact cause, it could be something they’ve eaten, something they’ve been exposed to on an outing or even something in your house that they may be sensitive to. We have a list of common allergens that may be present in their environment for you to observe and help determine what’s irritating your pup.
So fresh and so clean…
Environmental allergies are common for people and dogs, with so many scented products and chemicals used daily, these products can have a negative effect on our immune systems.
With many Aussie pet owners bringing their pets inside, we sometimes find ourselves using perfumed products to combat the ‘dog smell’. These shampoos, candles, oils and diffusers and even perfume can irritate our pet’s skin if they contain toxic or harsh chemicals; look for natural, pet friendly products.
Dust mites are major culprits for red, itchy skin and even hair loss. Keep your house clean and free of dust, mould etc. It can be helpful to pop your dog in another room while you vacuum as vacuuming can stir up the allergens. Consider using natural cleaning products as these will be less irritating for your pooch, and remember that some Essential Oils are harmful for dogs, even common household oils like pine, citrus, tea tree and peppermint, just to name a few, so make sure these are out of reach for dogs.
My dog’s green thumb gives him an itchy tum…
Just like internal household products, environmental factors can also affect your pup. Lawn sprays with harsh chemicals, biting insects and a large amount of natural flora can cause your dog to itch.
This is one of the trickiest allergies to identify and manage, you may be able to identify all the plants and sprays in your own yard, but knowing the plants and sprays used around the neighbourhood and at dog parks is a big task. You may be able to work on a process of elimination and avoid certain locations to narrow down the areas you visit that are causing the itch.
Grasses and weeds are often to blame for rashes and itchy skin in dogs. They love to roll and play in the grass – it’s so much fun! An itchy belly and itchy feet aren’t; if grass and weeds are triggering your dog’s skin condition, try to keep them on the footpath when walking them to reduce their contact with allergens, particularly if they’re prone to itchy feed. Wipe their paws (and tummy if they’re a little dog or they’ve had a run through some long grass) with a damp towel to remove any pollen or allergens, be sure to dry them off to reduce any moisture between their toes.
Insect bites are easier to identify. If your pet is having an issue with insects, chat to your vet or visit your pet specialty store to discuss natural insect repellent options. You can also include a small amount of garlic in their diet as this is a natural insect repellent.
Trust your gut (and theirs)
We know that good health starts in the gut, so a high quality diet is important to support our dogs’ immune systems. A highly processed diet can put pressure on a dog’s immune system which can cause them to itch. It’s also possible for a dog to have a food allergy; if you’ve ruled out the other culprits and you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, you should chat to your vet or a qualified animal nutritionist to diagnose and manage this.
If your dog has recently been prescribed antibiotics, not only can this put stress on their immune system but common side effects of antibiotics can include rashes, hives and skin irritations, there’s also the chance your dog could develop a yeast infection. A probiotic will help restore and recover your dog’s digestive and immune system after sickness and antibiotic use.
How can I support my pet with Sensitive Skin?
The health of a pet’s digestive system has a remarkable influence over the health of the rest of the body. It is an integral part of the immune system, forming a physical barrier to invading pathogens as well as acting as a source of information for immune cells to respond to as needed. A high quality diet will help strengthen your dog’s immune system. For dogs with irritated or sensitive skin it’s important to ensure their diet is loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients to promote healthy skin, a soft coat and a stronger immune system. Look for a food with anti-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids from whole ingredients such as salmon. Cold pressed coconut oil, the traditional herb turmeric and activated chia seeds can also provide support as they work together to promote a healthy skin, soft and shiny coat and a stronger immune system to minimise the possibility of future skin issues.
Including a probiotic in your dog’s diet, will help maintain healthy immune system function, keeping the immune system healthy and ready to respond to pathogens, as well as assisting immune system regulation and some immune related skin conditions. It’s important to choose a probiotic that is therapeutic strength with good bacterial levels in the billions and is a species appropriate probiotic formulated specifically for dogs.
When is it time to speak to the vet?
Nobody knows their dog like you, so if you can see your dog suffering and needing immediate relief or further guidance, then don’t hesitate to book in.
Other signs that you need to consult your vet:
If your dog has persistent itchy ears or recurring ear infections
If they have an odor (not their usual ‘doggy odor’)
Otherwise, after observing your dog’s symptoms and environment, we recommend a good chat with your vet. Your vet can do allergy tests on your dog if you suspect a specific culprit. They can also discuss food allergies and intolerances, fungal and bacterial infections, and environmental allergies and seasonal itches,.
You’re also welcome to get in touch with us firstname.lastname@example.org to chat further about the benefits of a high quality, natural diet.
If you have enjoyed this article, you may enjoy Narelle Cooke's article on leaky gut and diets for dogs with allergies.