Itchy Dog? Let’s Scratch One Up!

itchy dogIs your dog scratching? Itchy? There are many reasons that may be happening, and we have some options to cure that itch! I spend a lot of my time problem-solving with pet parents about why a beloved pet is having different issues, and one of the most common is an itching or scratching pet, especially in the middle of the night. The pet parent is awakened at 2 or 3 in the morning to the sound of a scratching or licking dog trying to satisfy that skin irritation; believe me, we hear this scenario all the time. So, let’s try to figure out what may be causing the pet in your house some skin discomfort.

  1. Is your pet on a flea preventative? This should be a yes.
  2. Is your pet suffering from a seasonal allergy?
  3. Does your pet have dry, ashy skin?
  4. Does the pet have a food allergy?
  5. Is the itchiness caused by something environmental?

The reasons for the pet’s discomfort can vary, but let’s delve into these common irritations.

Everyone should be on a flea preventative, so we are not going to spend much time here. Let’s move on to the other topics.

Seasonal Allergies

People will often not realize that pollen and dust will affect their pets, but it is pretty common. An owner will tell me their pet does not have an allergy, but when golden rod is blooming, it will trigger humans and dogs. A simple remedy is a gentle pet shampoo to remove pollen or dust. Even just rinsing the pet off with fresh, clean water will be effective. Pet wipes can also be used.

Dry, Ashy Skin

A pet will scratch because their skin is dry. When bathing a dog, using a shampoo formulated for pets will calm the skin down and give the pet relief. A dog moisturizes its skin from the inside out, so adding fish oil or having duck or fish-based food will help. Remember, you should not bathe a dog more than every 9-14 days or twice a month because their skin will dry out. But if the puppy rolls in something stinky, by all means, give them a bath!


Food can often dry the skin out or cause a food allergy irritation. A pet should have access to fresh water each day to rehydrate, especially after eating a dry kibble. Hydration is so important for pets; it keeps the bodily functions working correctly and hydrates the skin to keep it calm. Plus, a good probiotic should be in the food or added to help the gut produce the enzymes that control the overgrowth of yeast infection on the skin, a common cause of hot spots. A simple control is to add plain unflavored yogurt to the diet, just a spoonful two or three times a week to jump-start the skin healing process. Plain, unflavored yogurts are best.

Environmental Causes

I have had pet parents relay to me how they changed the washing detergent in the house to something with no dyes and perfumes, and not only did the parent have less itching, but after washing the pets’ bedding, the pets’ scratching and skin irritations went away! Similar to pollen, pets can have allergies to dust or mold or the recent chemical that was used to treat the lawn outside.

Most skin irritations can be resolved with observation and elimination. Is the scratching a new occurrence, or has this been an ongoing issue? What has changed? What time of year is it, what season? Has this occurred before? And if so, When?

And Remember, a happy pet makes a happy pet parent!

by Dan Owens, Owner of Charlotte Dog & Cat Pet Supplies

Charlotte Dog & Cat Pet Supplies

Dan Owens is the Owner of Charlotte Dog and Cat Pet Supplies and has ten years of experience owning independent holistic pet supply stores. He is a pet parent to two 200-plus-pound English Mastiffs and a member of SSMR, Southern States English Mastiff Rescue. Visit him at his new Mooresville holistic pet supply store located at 2785 Charlotte Hwy (one block north of the new Mooresville Police Station).