Fighting the itch

Fighting the itch

Dogs can be an itchy lot and the odd scratch here and there is nothing to worry about. But if your dog starts to scratch frequently, it can be a sign that something isn’t quite right.

If your dog itches too much it can result in very sore, red skin that can be get infected and can be accompanied by hair loss, making your dog feel very uncomfortable and sorry for itself. So what can cause this itchiness and what can you do to combat it?

There are lots of different reasons that your dog has become very itchy. Sometime it’s obvious, such as fleas, but often it can be tricky to work out why so a trip to the vets may be in order. Parasites such as mites or ticks can trigger an itch, whilst allergies can cause excessive itching and can lead to atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory, chronic skin condition. Dry and flaky skin can also make your dog feel very itchy. Meanwhile acute moist dermatitis, aka “hot spots”, occur when a dog licks, scratches and chews at irritated skin causing a bald patch with wet, red skin.

With so many causes for itchiness in dogs, there isn’t a simple ‘catch all’ solution. If your dog is affected by excessive itchiness it’s always a good idea to consult your vet for advice and possible medication. However, there are other things you can do to reduce any itchiness, rashes or skin irritation, making your dog feel much happier.

Opting for hypoallergenic food and treats can help in some cases. Hypoallergenic simply means less likely to cause an allergic reaction and with a lot of itches caused by possible allergies, this can be a sensible step.

Most skin conditions involve inflammation of the skin. Research has shown that the essential fatty acid Omega 3 can help reduce itchiness, rash and irritation of the skin thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect and immune system support. But your dog’s body cannot make Omega 3 itself so they need to get this in their diet. Fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 and so supplementing your dog’s diet with fish treats is a healthy, tasty way to boost your dog’s intake of Omega 3. So for dogs with a long term itch, adding some fish to their diet can make them less itchy but also reduce dependence on steroids to manage their condition.