Itchy skin condition in dogs

June 18 2016

An itchy skin condition is a common cause of discomfort for dogs during winter.

The combination of cold temperatures and dry indoor heating can affect your dog’s ability to regulate a normal balance of skin oils and bacteria. This can result in itchy, dry and flaky skin.

Unless there is an underlying medical condition, flaky dry skin is essentially dandruff. This becomes uncomfortable for your dog when there is an excessive turnover of dead skin cells that clump into patchy deposits on the skin’s surface.

There are a few simple steps to minimising an itchy skin condition and keeping your dog’s coat healthy during winter.

  • Grooming
  • Skin care products
  • Dietary supplements

If your dog’s itchy skin condition seems abnormal or doesn’t respond to basic treatment, seek advice from your vet. Be especially vigilant if your dog’s scratching has caused damage to the skin. Scratches and abrasions can easily become infected leading to more serious medical issues.

Grooming to prevent an itchy skin condition

The simplest way to remove dead flaky skin is through brushing. It makes sense that dogs with longer hair need to be brushed more often. Also dogs with double coats, such as Husky and Pomeranian, will need extra brushing because their thick undercoats tend to accumulate dead skin.

Brushing removes dead skin cells and loose hair from your dog’s coat as well as encouraging production of natural oils from the glands in your dog’s skin. Combined, this helps the skin repair itself and stay protected from dandruff.

Bathing your dog too often to alleviate itchy skin is not recommended. Too many baths can wash away the natural oils that protect your dog’s skin from drying out and becoming brittle. These oils are a dog’s natural defence against dry flaking skin.

Generally speaking, your dog only needs a bath when they begin to smell or are noticeably dirty. Be aware that some shampoos can cause dryness and contribute to itchy skin conditions in dogs. Use a moisturising shampoo, or one designed for sensitive skin.

Skin care products to soothe an itchy skin condition

There are a variety of natural and medicated skin care products developed specifically for dogs that you can use to alleviate an itchy skin condition. Skin care products come as shampoos and washes or topical creams and powders. Many treatments for itchy skin contain oatmeal as their active ingredient. Oatmeal is well known for its skin soothing qualities. You can apply it either as a cream or during a bath.

The best product for your dog will depend on the level of irritation as well as their breed and skin type. If you are concerned or your dog is suffering from a severe irritation, consult your vet.

Dietary supplements for defence against an itchy skin condition

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for a dog’s healthy coat and skin. A dietary deficiency in these necessary nutrients can often lead to dermatological issues. In the winter months, when dogs are more prone to dry and flaky skin, higher levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can be of benefit.

A number of premium dog foods are fortified with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Otherwise supplements are available.

Again, if your dog is suffering from a severe itchy skin condition or irritation, do speak with your vet.

Other itchy skin condition causes

As well as the weather and heating, parasites and moulds can contribute to skin problems in your dog. Dermatitis in dogs can also be caused by more serious medical conditions including liver or kidney problems, dietary deficiency or hormonal imbalance. Your vet is the best source of advice.

Wallington’s Pet Department stocks a range of grooming and skin care products as well as fortified premium dog foods and supplements. Come in and talk to our experienced staff any day of the week. We also host Cherished Pets Community Veterinary Care Dog Wellness Clinic on the second Saturday of each month. Bring your dog along (on a lead) and seek advice from a qualified vet.