Is your dog's constant scratching driving him-and you-crazy? If your dog is continually licking, scratching, and gnawing at himself, dry skin may be the reason. But what causes dry, flaky skin in dogs? There can be a number of factors, including inadequate diet, allergies, and more. It may take a little detective work to figure out the root cause of your dog's itchy skin, but once you find it, you'll find the solution as well.
Start by Looking at Your Dog's Diet
If you are feeding your dog a generic dog food or supermarket brand, he may not be getting enough nutrients and essential fatty acids to help keep his coat shiny and healthy. Many store brands don't contain the optimum balance of protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which help keep your dog's skin soft, moist, and healthy and his coat shiny.
Experiment with one of the many premium brand or ultra premium dog food brands available at pet supply stores. Premium dog foods usually contain supplements such as flax seed, salmon oil, or other fish oils, which contain essential fatty acids. These extra nutrients will benefit your dog's skin and coat and relieve dry, itchy skin. Better dog foods are also made from whole product, such as chicken, turkey, and lamb, and do not contain by-products or fillers like the cheaper foods do. Some dogs are allergic to corn, soy, wheat and eggs. If you suspect food allergies look for a dog food without these ingredients.
Essential Fatty Acid Supplements
To give your dog an essential fatty acid boost, try giving him a vitamin- and fatty acid-rich supplement such as Linatone or Lipaderm. You can even put a regular flax seed oil, salmon oil or other fish oil capsule or liquid in his food. Many people find that this simple addition to their dog's diet helps reduce shedding, improve a dull coat, and relieve scratchy, flaky dry skin. It has certainly helped my dog's itchy skin.
Common Canine Allergies
In addition to food allergies, dust mites, fleas, and flea bites are common reasons for constant scratching. Typical signs of allergies include scratching, licking his paws, rubbing his face, or watery eyes. If your dog is allergic to dust mites, vets suggest putting a plastic cover over your dog's bed, which will keep mites from getting in the bed. Wash your dog's bed cover frequently in very hot water. Don't let your dog on upholstered furniture and avoid letting him play with stuffed animals. Vacuum very frequently to keep the dust bunnies away.
If your dog is scratching miserably, check him for fleas. Some dogs are allergic to fleas and flea bites, leading, to extremely itchy, inflamed skin. Use a flea control product on him. There are several once-a-month topical flea control medications that work very well. Avoid flea shampoos, which can be very drying and can exacerbate dry skin and make the itching worse.
Avoiding the allergens is the first line of defense. But if your dog needs relief from scratching now, try giving him a bath with a gentle, soothing shampoo liked oatmeal shampoo. Hydrocortisone spray or shampoo may also help to relieve itching. If your pet doesn't improve soon, check with your vet to see if your dog may have another underlying condition.
Valerie Goettsch is webmaster of My Favorite Dog featuring articles and information on canine health , dog allergies, pet supplies, puppy training, and more.