If Fido spends most of his time scratching at his skin, bring him to the vet to determine the cause of his itching. Causes of your pup's itchy skin range from parasitic insects to food allergies. Your vet will give your pooch a physical exam and possibly take some blood tests to get an idea of how to treat your canine companion's itchy skin to provide him with some relief.
The Problem with Pests
One of the main causes of itchy skin in pups is an infestation with fleas or another irritating parasite like lice, mites or ticks. Fleas tend to congregate around your pup's back, hind legs and tail. You can usually find these pesky pests using a flea comb, which has closely-spaced tines that can catch the fleas, their eggs or their feces. Other pests like lice or mites may be a bit harder to see, depending on the type of parasite. Your vet can examine your pooch for signs of parasites and recommend a spot-on insecticide to apply to Fido's fur, which will kill off the pests and provide him with relief from his constant itching.
Both fungal and bacterial infections can cause your pup's skin to itch. Some of these infectious agents, like ringworm, a type of fungus, are contagious to other pets and people, warns petMD. If you suspect that your pooch has a skin infection, your vet can examine him and give him topical or oral medications that can kill off the harmful microorganisms causing his itching. Sometimes skin infections occur after an infestation with an external parasite, due to the skin being broken when your pooch scratches at the areas affected by the pests. In these cases, you'll need to concurrently treat your pooch for the parasites and the skin infections that have arisen.
Both food and contact allergies can result in itchy skin. Your vet can help determine what allergen, such as a detergent or other chemical, is causing your pup's irritated skin. If a food allergy is suspected, your vet will put Fido on a special diet that won't trigger an allergic reaction when he eats it. These therapeutic foods contain either novel ingredients that aren't found in most pet foods or special hydrolyzed proteins that are designed to prevent an allergic reaction. If the new diet alleviates your pup's itching, then your vet will know that a food allergy is to blame and he can narrow down the possible ingredients that trigger your pup's allergies.
Unfortunate Underlying Conditions
Some causes of itchy skin are simple, such as dryness due to weather or a poor diet, which can usually be alleviated with a dietary change or application of a moisturizing conditioner. More complicated underlying conditions like hormonal problems or metabolic conditions can affect your pup's skin, causing itching and hair loss if left untreated. Your vet can determine if one of these conditions is affecting your pup. If so, she'll prescribe medication to treat that condition, which should stop his itching. She may also prescribe a cortisone cream to calm his itchy skin while his condition is being treated.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.