What Can I Give to My Dog Who Itches a Lot?

by Lydia Janssen
    Parasites like fleas and ticks can cause itchiness.

    Parasites like fleas and ticks can cause itchiness.

    Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

    No one likes it when his best friend is miserable, and an itchy dog can be miserable indeed. Itchiness in your canine companion can range from the occasional licking to obsessive biting and scratching that create hot spots and red, irritated patches of skin. Too much scratching can lead to hair loss and injury. Figuring out what is causing the irritation is the first step toward helping your dog recover.

    Fighting Parasites

    Parasites like fleas, mites and ticks are some of the most common causes of itchiness in dogs. If your dog's muzzle is particularly itchy, check for bee or wasp stings, since dogs tend to find these pests with their noses. Carefully remove any stinger with tweezers. Use tweezers to remove ticks, as well. For fleas, relief from itching comes from a single-dose tablet such as Capstar. You'll want to provide a preventive medication that eliminates risk of infestation, and your vet will help you choose one.

    Eliminating Allergies

    Humans aren't the only ones who get allergies; your furry friend may be suffering from them, too. He can become allergic to bug bites, mold, pollen, dust and certain types of food. If the itching problem is seasonal, an environmental factor is likely to blame. If the problem persists year-round, your vet may suggest a food trial to pinpoint an allergen in your dog's diet. This usually includes eliminating all the foods he usually eats and slowly adding them back in to see what causes a reaction. Once the problem food is eliminated, the itching should stop.

    Treating Allergies

    If your vet can't pinpoint what is causing the allergy, you may have to settle for treating it. You can give your dog an antihistamine like Benadryl, 0.5 to 1 milligram per pound of body weight, to treat allergies. Hydrocortisone cream or triple antibiotic cream applied to the itchy area may also offer some relief. Your vet may also prescribe a glucocorticoid, a steroid that reduces inflammation.

    Infection

    Bacterial and yeast infections can cause dogs problems with itching. A severe infection may cause hair loss, bad smells and fluid discharge. Itchiness on his feet and face may be another sign of infection. Your veterinarian may suggest a round of antibiotics if she suspects that an infection is the cause of your pet's troubles. This round of medication generally lasts for 21 to 30 days. It is important to give your dog the full treatment even if he stops showing symptoms, to ensure that the infection is completely wiped out.

    Boredom, Anxiety or Pain

    Some dogs will start to scratch and bite their skin as a response to stress. These habits can lead to ripped fur and open wounds. Make sure to offer your dog plenty of chew toy alternatives to alleviate boredom, and don't leave him alone in a small pen or room for extended periods of time. If his biting has become a habit, your vet may recommend placing a bitter substance on his favorite biting area to discourage it. Underlying pain, such as that from a torn ligament or broken bone, may cause your dog to stress-bite or scratch. Make sure your dog has a clean bill of health before you trying to treat the behavior; your vet's your best friend's best friend.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Lydia Janssen began her career writing news articles for the SPCA to connect adoptable pets with their potential owners. She moved into professional writing in 2009 and uses her experience as a dog trainer, SPCA kennel worker and veterinary technician to bring quality information to responsible pet owners.

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