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Tips on How to Stop Your Itchy Dog from Scratching

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As you already know, dogs can develop itchiness, and depending on the severity of the problem, it can be a symptom of other serious diseases that require a trip to the vet or can be treated with various home remedies. 

“I have seen cases from very mild and uncomplicated skin issues — mild skin infection, early noticeable hair loss — to serious and complicated patients where they are coming in and the dog has raw skin lesions,” says Dr. Loke Jin Wong, DVM, an associate veterinarian at Noah’s Animal Hospital & 24-Hour Emergency Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

According to experts, Some common causes of itchiness in dogs include environmental or food allergies. So, here are some tips on how to stop your itchy dog from scratching. Read on for more info!

What causes an itchy dog?

According to experts, allergies are one of the most common reasons for dog scratching, so try to find out the cause of your dog’s allergy and schedule a vet visit as soon as possible. 

Dogs can be allergic to the flea saliva, said Dr. Martin Goldstein, DVM, an integrative veterinarian who combines conventional therapies and alternative medicine. So, itchiness can be caused by fleas or mite infestation. In this case, you should consult your veterinarian for closer examination and treatment.

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“Until the underlying cause is addressed, the itchiness will never go away,” Dr. Wong says. “Additionally, a lot of our itchy dog patients come in with secondary bacterial and yeast skin infections. You can treat these secondary infections, but they will keep coming back until the primary underlying cause is resolved.”

Your veterinarian is the only one who can prescribe a suitable treatment and analyze your dog’s problem accordingly. “Veterinarians can recommend appropriate diagnostics, which could include procedures such as scraping the skin of a dog to check for mites, pressing a microscope slide on a dog’s skin to get impression smears, medication and diet trials,” Dr. Wong says.

The most common treatments consist of a healthy diet, antibiotics, allergy medication or other essential meds. However, you can try natural remedies as well, such as a diet that contains fatty acids. “Fish oil and flaxseed oil are usually good dog supplements to give our furry friends, but please consult with your vet for an appropriate product and dose,” Dr. Wong says. “There are also some topical fatty acid products out there that could potentially be applied to these itchy spots.”

Arnica, calendula and aloe vera are also good for your dog. “I always recommend that people have an aloe plant in their homes to serve as a fresh source,” Dr. Goldstein says. “Supplements containing the natural sterol called beta-sitosterol are also very anti-inflammatory with no side effects.”

Moreover, animal experts say that cortisone injections, creams or meds are also useful in treating canine itchiness. “This is only when the condition is more severe and the pet is truly suffering,” said Dr. Goldstein. 

Whatever you use, one of the most important things that you have to take into consideration is the opinion of your veterinarian. 

“We usually don’t recommend [over-the-counter] medicating until we are able to work up the underlying cause,” Dr. Wong says. “A lot of times, treating certain lesions with steroidal creams or other medications could alter the disease process and make it harder to diagnose.”

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“In the meantime, an e-collar is the way to go,” Dr. Wong says. “A T-shirt is also not a bad idea if your pet does not tolerate the e-collar well.” 

You can use some All Four Paws’ e-collars. “There are also certain over-the-counter topical deterrents that you could spray on these specific skin lesions,” Dr. Wong says. “Bitter apple is quite a common one that usually works and is available readily at pet stores.”

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