Itching is common in dogs. What does it mean? How can you tell if your dog is itchy? What causes itching in dogs? What should you do if your dog is itchy? Is it serious if your dog scratches? How to calm your dog if he scratches? These are some of the questions we answer here.
What is itching in dogs ?
An itch is the need for your dog to scratch, generated by tingling, irritation and dryness of the skin. It is also called pruritus, which comes from the Latin pruirire = to itch; this term has given the adjective pruriginous, qualifying an attack that leads to the desire to scratch.
How to know if your dog suffers from pruritus (or itching) ?
It is very simple.
Your dog scratches, in one way or another, with his paw or with his teeth (usually the incisors) and he may also rub himself on a surface that allows him to reach more easily the itchy areas: you will then see your dog rubbing himself against the wall and frequently putting himself on his back to wiggle with all four paws in the air in the sand or on the gravel…
What Causes itching in dogs ?
The most frequent cause is itching triggered by pullicosis, i.e. itching due to the presence of fleas.
In this case, the area he scratches is mainly the hindquarters, from the lumbar region to the base of the tail. Flea bites are not always visible, but flea droppings may allow you to show their presence by using a flea comb to collect them.
These fleas can also cause a very common flea bite allergy (sometimes called DAPP).
It is triggered by sensitization and exceeding a “threshold” beyond which the allergic reaction and itching will appear.
Other parasites can also be responsible for the appearance of itching, such as scabies mites (sarcoptes scabiei) which can also reach humans and cause them to itch in the same way, or cockroaches.
Infections by staphylococci (Staphylococcus intermedius), cause pyoderma with associated itching due to the lesions they cause, especially in some dogs (Cocker, Sharpeï, Pug, Bulldogs…) or in obese dogs (skin folds).
Yeasts such as malassezia can also cause an infection, the signs of which include significant pruritus, in addition to redness (erythema), thickening of the skin and malodorous seborrhea.
Finally, atopy (allergic response favored by a genetic predisposition) and allergies in general, to flea bites (see above) but also to aeroallergens such as pollens or mites, and finally food allergies are frequent causes of itching.
What are the consequences of itching in dogs ?
Itch is not the same for all dogs and differs according to its cause. The consequences of itching in a dog are the appearance of lesions: redness (erythema), irritation, thickening of the skin, hair loss, pustules, pimples, crusts and sores. In some cases, these lesions are also accompanied by an impairment of the general state (depression, fever…)
Is my dog scratching serious ?
Yes, itchiness can have serious consequences for your dog if the itching spreads and the scratching generates important lesions, such as skin necrosis. Pus can also be a sign of an infection that is spreading, such as pyoderma.
How to treat and soothe an itch ?
The first reflex is to use a shampoo: Its effect is immediate, it allows to calm the skin by cooling and calming the inflammation.
In this category, there are soothing shampoos to be used several times a week and then as a maintenance treatment (depending on the extent of the lesions):
You can use, for example, Douxo calm (soothes, cleanses and moisturizes), MP’s Peptivet antimicrobial (soothes and antimicrobial), Allercalm (cleanses and soothes, antimicrobial), Dermoscent Atop 7 Shampoo (soothes and moisturizes in case of allergic dermatitis), or Keriox (soothes and moisturizes); then, in maintenance, moisturizing shampoos such as Sensiderm (with calendula and aloe vera)
The soothing shampoo helps reduce the pain associated with inflammation and pruritus through the effect of its various components; it can also be combined with an antiseptic shampoo.
These cleansing products should be complemented or alternated with the use of
- Soothing sprays: such as Zincoseb spray (soothing, sebum regulating and moisturizing), Douxo calm Micro emulsion (soothing and moisturizing), Ermidra spray (soothing and moisturizing) and Pyoskin spray (antiseptic and soothing).
- Soothing foams: such as Ermidra foam (cleanses and softens), Dermoscent essential foam (calms and cleanses), Douxo calm care foam (reduces irritation and inflammation of allergic dermatoses), Dermoscent Atop 7 foam (soothes and moisturizes in case of skin allergies), and MP Labo Peptivet Foam foam (neutralizes irritation and restores the skin barrier).
- Pipettes with calming and soothing effect: as for example the pipettes Dermoscent Atop 7 spot on (soothe, hydrate and strengthen the skin in case of cutaneous allergies), and in maintenance the pipettes Dermoscent essential 6 (hydrate and regulate the cutaneous microflora).
- Creams: such as Dermoscent Atop 7 Hydra Cream (nourishes and relieves irritated skin).
All these products should be chosen according to the cause of the itching and the appearance of the lesions, as advised by your veterinarian.
How to prevent itching in your dog ?
To avoid itching due to external parasites:
Remember to protect him well from parasites and especially fleas, also use repellents and do not forget to treat your house.
To avoid itching due to food allergies, it is advisable to give hypo or anti-allergenic food for dogs and possibly food supplements providing essential fatty acids (omega 3) and omega 6.
To avoid pruritus due to infections, it is advisable to keep a close eye on your dog’s skin, to disinfect certain areas of the folds, for example, if necessary, and in case of doubt to consult your veterinarian quickly.