It’s natural for your dog to have an itch every once in a while. There’s something so whimsical about watching their hind leg rise up and get to work, their collar jingling all the way. But, when it seems like all your dog does is scratch, you may have a problem. Luckily, there is an easy bath time routine with pet friendly products guaranteed to soothe and pamper your pooch.
Before getting into our recommended spa treatment, let’s take a look at why your dog may be itchy.
What Are Some Common Dog Skin Conditions?
There are plenty of reasons why your pooch might be experiencing itchiness or flaky skin. Some of the most frequent culprits are:
- Poor nutrition (Low protein, inadequate fats, minerals, and vitamins in dog food can result in a dull coat and dry skin.)
- Allergies (Food based or environmental allergies can cause redness, inflammation, hives, and other serious reactions.)
- Parasitic infections (The most well known parasitic infection being mange, a condition that forms when microscopic mites invade your dog’s skin causing hair loss and lesions.)
- Bacterial infections (Otherwise known as pyoderma, these infections often occur after an open wound has been left uncleaned.)
- Flea and tick bites
- Chronic skin conditions (A common form is seborrhea, a disorder where the sebaceous glands in a dog’s skin overproduce sebum.)
While these are some of more likely causes for any canine skin irritation, it’s always best to consult your vet when you notice any potential health issues. They will be able to help diagnose, treat, and protect your dog no matter the reason for their itchiness. Still, there are several methods and products you can use to alleviate any of your pup’s discomfort in the meantime!
Giving Your Dog The Best Bath of Their Life (And the Products You’ll Need)
Now that we have a clue as to why a dog might have dry/itchy skin, we can get to work giving them a helping hand. These six easy steps will guide you through the most effective process for treating your dog’s skin irritation.
The process should begin with a thorough brushing. This will bring up any loose skin, distribute oils through the fur, remove any mats or debris, and gives you a chance to examine your dog’s body for injuries and pests. You’ll want to run your hands across the entirety of their body, checking for bumps and scabs, checking in between their toes and on the surface of their paws as well for any cracks or dryness.
But, you can’t just pick up any hairbrush and start working away at your dogs fur. Depending on the breed and coat type of your dog, you may need a specific kind of brush. For instance, dogs with thick undercoats like St. Bernards may need to be combed through with a slicker brush while dogs with short coats can settle for a quick session with a bristle brush.
With a little research, you can find the exact brushes that will best suit your dog, but in the meantime there is the ConairPRO Puppy Grooming Starter Kit. For $19.99, this set includes a pin brush, a slicker brush, nail clippers, a boar bristle brush, a squeaky toy, and a nifty drawstring bag to keep everything in order. While it is advertised as a kit for puppies, these tools are a great way to begin grooming dogs of any age and size.
Like with humans, the right shampoo can be vital when it comes to clearing up flaky skin and leaving fur (or hair) extra shiny. Some shampoos have ingredients that can have the opposite effect, however, so it’s important to pick one that is both pet safe and nourishing. For this reason, an oatmeal based dog shampoo is the way to go.
Vet’s Best Oatmeal Medicated Dog Shampoo is a vet-approved option that utilizes colloidal oatmeal, tea tree oil, and vitamin B5 to soothe irritated skin and leave your dog’s coat looking its best. Thankfully, this shampoo also does not interfere with topical flea and tick treatments so your pup will be safe long after bathtime. You can find it on Chewy as a 16 oz. bottle for $9.51.
In most cases, you can rinse away suds using clean water, but as a special treat you can use a mixture of equal parts water to apple cider vinegar. Any brand will do as long as it is pure apple cider vinegar. This will relieve itchiness, help prevent fleas and ticks, and leave your dog with a glowing coat.
Be careful to avoid your dog’s eyes, nose, and ears when rinsing and do not use this method if your dog has any raw looking skin or open wounds. The apple cider vinegar can sting and we would never want to cause any additional discomfort.
With a clean towel, gently wipe down your dog. It’s best to towel or air dry them as a blow dryer can damage their fur and further irritate dry skin. If you have a dog with folded skin such as a Bulldog or a Pug, it is important to clear the areas between these folds with clean water or a gentle, pet-friendly wipe followed by a thorough drying. When moisture builds up in these overlaps on skin, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. This can lead to a bad smell, itchiness, or even infection. Special care should also be taken around the ears and eyes.
A pet safe product for cleaning folds, ears, paws, is Pogi’s Pet Supplies Deodorizing Wipes for Dogs and Cats. These bamboo based towelettes, along with a light dab with a dry washcloth, will reduce the buildup of bacteria without irritating your pet’s sensitive spots. You can find them on Chewy for $11.99.
Perhaps the most important step when it comes to preventing dry skin and brittle fur is moisturizing. An easy method is to use a small amount of melted, pure coconut oil. Once it is liquified, but not too hot to touch, gently massage it into your dog’s skin. This will help reduce inflammation, nourish skin and hair, and will make their fur smell delicious. It is best to do a small test patch on your dog’s skin prior to their bath to make sure they have no sensitivities to the oil.
For spots like a dog’s nose, paws, and elbows, Musher’s Secret is a fantastic option. This 100% natural, food grade wax was made to protect the paws of sled dogs in the harshest conditions. By rubbing a dollop on your puppy's paws 2-3 times a week, you can protect them from cracked skin in the winter, summer, and anytime in between. A 60 gram tub goes for $14.99 on Chewy.
Finally, you can protect your pooch’s coat in between bathtimes using Fauna Care’s Protect & Condition Spray. This product features a handy spray nozzle for easy application no matter the setting. With just a few spritzes over your dog’s body on a regular basis, you will quell any irritation, leaving them with supple skin and a shiny coat.
Fauna Care products are all vet tested and endorsed and made with your pet’s health and happiness in mind. You can purchase a 2 oz bottle for $24.99 on the Fauna Care store.
If you notice that your dog’s skin irritation persists after using these methods and products, it is time to call the vet. They will be able to perform tests and provide recommendations based on your dog’s unique needs. But, no matter the state of your dog’s skin, it is never a bad time to provide them with a little TLC via a calming bath, a good brush, plenty of pets, and a handful of treats for good measure.