Is your dog's itching making both of you miserable? - Dr. Marty Becker


Is your dog’s itching making both of you miserable?

Friday, Jul 19th, 2019 | By Dr. Marty Becker

American Bulldog puppy staring with concerned sad look

If your dog’s itching is driving both of you crazy, here’s some information that can help!

If you’ve ever had poison oak or ivy, you know how infuriating, stressful, and even painful itching can be. Your dog’s itch isn’t because of those plants, however. The top tip I have, based on my 40 years as a veterinarian, is don’t underestimate the possibility that fleas are triggering your dog’s itch. I can’t count the number of clients who assure me their dog doesn’t have fleas, only to see all signs of itching go away when flea preventives are used. Ask your veterinarian which is the best choice for your pet’s lifestyle

While in my experience food allergies are rare, they can certainly be behind allergic skin conditions in our dogs.  Talk to your veterinarian about an allergy elimination diet to see if food is contributing to your pet’s itching. Other triggers include what’s known as atopic dermatitis, a lifelong inflammatory skin disease that can result in real suffering for our pets.

I’d also like to put in a plug (yet again!) for frequent bathing for allergic dogs. No, if you use the right shampoo you won’t dry out her skin even with daily baths. What you will do is wash away possible allergens she picks up outdoors while helping restore the skin’s natural protective barrier. Don’t use just any shampoo; use a product specifically designed for dogs with skin diseases. Your veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist can advise you on which is right for your dog.

I guess you’ve noticed a trend here, but I really do believe no matter what the cause, your veterinarian is an itchy dog’s best friend. She can do a full spectrum of allergy testing, design a desensitization program, help with parasite control, diagnose and treat secondary bacterial infections (important because dogs can be allergic to bacterial waste!), and refer you to a veterinary dermatologist if the condition persists.

If your dog is struggling with this condition, I’d like to invite you to attend a Facebook Live about Fear Free dermatology and how it can help the itchy dog. It features the incredible Dr. Debra Horwitz, a board certified veterinary behaviorist and renowned editor of Decoding Your Dog: Explaining Common Dog Behaviors and How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones. She’s joined by boarded veterinary dermatologist Dr. Dana Liska of Zoetis Petcare, who is sponsoring this Facebook Live.

There’s no registration needed. Just come to my Facebook page on Monday, July 22, at 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific Time, for Your Itchy Dog: How Dermatology and Fear Free Can Help!