When we brought Jax home as a puppy we noticed right away that he seemed to itch ALOT! At first we didn’t think too much about it but after a couple days it was quite obvious that something was just not right. Jax would itch constantly. The poor dog never seemed to get a break from itching. His skin was dry and flaky and he had a rash on his belly. He would scratch so much that he was actually hurting his skin and as soon as it would start to heal he would scratch again and start the process over. He would whimper while scratching and it was obvious he was incredibly uncomfortable. At his first wellness puppy visit we mentioned this to our vet. We feared for the worst…fleas, mange, infection, worms etc. In the end, thankfully it wasn’t any of those issues but our vet did think he had skin allergies and would be something he would always have and something we would need to learn how to manage. So, how do you know if your dog has skin allergies and what exactly do you do if that is the case?
SIGNS YOUR DOG HAS SENSITIVE SKIN OR SKIN ALLERGIES
- Excessive itching. Yes most dogs scratch from time to time but if your dogs scratching is nonstop and relentless or they are scratching to the point of whimpering and/or causing ham to their skin, they might have skin allergies.
- Chewing/Biting at their paws. The most common reason a dog will chew his paws, bite them, or pull at them is because the soles of their feet are irritated. This can often be a sign of skin allergies, more than likely a sensitivity to something outside that they walk on. Yes, some dogs can be allergic to grass, dust, or other debris found on the ground or in your yard.
- Dry flaky skin. This is a sure sign that your dog probably has sensitive skin or skin allergies. Just like as humans our skin tends to become dry and flaky in the colder months, so can a dogs. Dry skin can be extremely irritating and painful.
- Rash on their skin. A rash on a dogs skin can mean numerous things but it is a sign of skin allergies. Pay attention to their bellies and under their armpits and legs. This is the most common place a dog with skin allergies will get a rash.
YOUR DOG HAS A SKIN ALLERGY. NOW WHAT?
If you find out your dog has a skin allergy don’t panic! It really is quite common and quite manageable as well. Here are 5 things you can do to help alleviate your dogs discomfort.
1. DON’T OVER BATHE
If you have a dog with skin allergies the last thing you want to do is over bathe them. While bathing is necessary to keep a dog clean, if you have a dog with skin allergies bathing them too frequently can strip them of their oils and dry out their skin even further. It is also important to pay attention to the type of shampoo you are using on your dog. A gentle, soothing shampoo like an oatmeal shampoo is best. Personally, we try and bathe Jax about every other week and we use an oatmeal shampoo by Burts Bees.
2. CHANGE THEIR DOG FOOD
While you shouldn’t consistently change the type of food your dog eats (it can mess with their tummies) if you notice your dog is itching a lot or has been diagnosed with allergies, you might want to look at what you are feeding them. When we first brought Jax home, we just fed him what his previous owners had, which was Pedigree dog food. We soon switched him over to a good quality grain free dog food and noticed a difference in how much he itched. The itching definitely diminished and his tummy issues went away as well. Some dogs just can not tolerate grains as well as others and some not at all. Food is one of the most common reasons why a dog has skin allergies.
3. SUPPLEMENT WITH OILS
Although most dogs are able to get the necessary amount of oils needed from their food, some dogs, especially those with sensitive skin or who have skin allergies, need more oil in their diet to help keep their skin hydrated. Our vet recommended adding some coconut oil into our dogs food every morning. It was also recommended to give him a fish oil supplement daily. Both of these oils combined daily can help prevent your dogs skin from becoming too dry.
Even with a change in diet and oil supplements, some dogs skin still bothers them enough that the use of antihistamines is needed. On extra dry days and days when Jax is itching more than usual we will give him Benadryl. Benadryl is perfectly safe for your pet but PLEASE CONSULT YOUR VET FIRST! Your vet can tell you if it is a good option for your dog as well as the correct dosage for them.
5. INVEST IN A HUMIDIFIER
Humidifiers aren’t just for humans, they are actually great for dogs that suffer from skin allergies as well. Humidifiers help to put moisture into the air resulting in a less dry atmosphere. In the Fall and Winter when Jax has the most issues with his skin being dry, we run a humidifier daily, especially in the bedroom at night while he sleeps. Night time seems to be the worst for his skin and the most common time he becomes itchy.
Does your dog have sensitive skin or skin allergies? If so what have you found to be helpful in alleviating some of their discomfort?
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