Does your dog need a shampoo for their itchy skin?
Baths, with the right shampoo, can help improve a dog’s skin and coat condition, which can soothe itchiness. But, depending on the cause, a bath — even with the right shampoo — may not cure your dog’s itchiness. These shampoos simply help treat the symptoms but don’t make the cause go away. You may want to talk to your vet to get to the root of the problem. Your dog may have allergies or a health condition leading to itchy or irritated skin. But if your dog does have itchy skin, it’s important to choose a shampoo that won’t further irritate their skin.
Talk to your vet about the best shampoo for Fido
Your dog’s diagnosis will lead to the right treatment plan, so it’s important to consult with your vet quickly. If the dry skin is a symptom of a larger condition like a bacterial infection, your vet can usually treat both the dry skin and the condition causing it without much issue.
If the dry skin is caused by allergies, however, treatment can be a little trickier. A dog with food allergies may need an elimination diet to determine the ingredient they’re allergic to. Pups with environmental allergy symptoms can typically only be managed versus cured.
Depending on the cause of your dog’s dry skin, your vet may recommend bathing them in a soothing dog shampoo. For example, these pet shampoos are usually a good option for managing environmental allergies.
Look for these ingredients in a moisturizing dog shampoo
Our vet, Dr. Irish, recommends shampoos with the following soothing ingredients:
- Aloe vera. Like for human skin, aloe vera has many beneficial properties for doggie skin. It reduces redness and cools the skin.
- Oatmeal extract. This ingredient relieves itchiness and redness and will leave your dog’s fur shining.
- Pramoxine. This topical anesthetic alleviates itching and decreases swelling that’s caused by minor skin irritation.
- Salicylic acid. If your dog’s skin is excessively dry like with hyperkeratosis, pet owners should look for a shampoo with this ingredient. Salicylic acid is often found in medicated shampoos in a class called “keratolytics.”
👉 While aloe vera is an effective ingredient to treat itchy dog skin, just make sure your dog doesn’t eat it!
Ingredients to avoid in doggie shampoos
You know to look at the ingredient list on your dog’s food bag, but do you know to look at the ingredients of their shampoo? Some shampoos are made with some not-so-safe ingredients that pet parents should look out for.
- Fragrance. Added fragrance can cause unnecessary irritation to a dog’s skin. If a shampoos’ scent comes from a natural source, chances are it’ll be on the packaging.
- Artificial colors. Brightly colored shampoos could contain unnatural and potentially dangerous dyes.
- MEA/Cocamide DEA. This liquid is derived from coconut, but it’s chemically altered and added to some pet products. Pet parents should avoid this ingredient because it can cause cancer.
- Mineral oil. There are studies that mineral oil could potentially be toxic to dogs.
- Parabens. These preservatives may potentially interfere with hormones and cause other harmful effects.
- Tea tree oil. Our team of vets recommends avoiding formulas with tea tree oil because, if ingested or absorbed into the skin, it can be toxic to dogs.
What causes dry skin in dogs?
These shampoos can help with your pup’s mild itchiness, but some conditions might require a trip to the vet for a medicated shampoo.
- Allergies. Food, environmental, and seasonal allergies, such as pollen, dust, grass, grain, and flea saliva can cause a host of symptoms in dogs that often include dry skin.
- Hyperkeratosis. Hyperkeratosis is an idiopathic condition that leads to a buildup of skin growth on your dog’s nose. It can become cracked, dry, or crusty and be susceptible to infection.
- Seasonal flank alopecia. It’s a skin condition where affected dogs lose patches of hair on a seasonal basis. It’s generally confined to the flank areas but can sometimes be seen on the bridge of the nose. Both flanks lose hair symmetrically.
- Flea bites. Flea allergy dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction to flea saliva, is one of the most common skin disorders in dogs.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional problems occur most commonly when dogs and cats are fed imbalanced diets.
- Dirt. Environmental dermatitis sometimes can occur when dogs come into contact with substances in the dirt, leading to redness, swelling, rashes, and itchy skin.
- Too much bathing. Even when using an itch-soothing shampoo, overbathing your dog can strip the natural oils in their skin, create a pH imbalance, and cause or worsen dry skin. Your dog’s bathing schedule will depend on their individual needs, so talk to your vet to determine how often to wash your pup.
- Dry, cold weather. A dog’s skin dries out in the cold winter air just like ours does, which can be itchy and uncomfortable.
- Skin infections. Bacterial and fungal infections, such as yeast infections, can cause an array of symptoms like dandruff in your pup. These infections can sometimes be secondary to another underlying cause.
- Immune system or hormone problems. Dry skin can sometimes be a symptom of a systemic disease in your dog. Two of the main diseases are Cushing’s and hypothyroidism, but dry skin can also be a symptom of auto-immune diseases and cancer.
How to prevent dry, irritated skin in dogs
Follow these seven tips to help prevent your pup from getting itchy, flaky skin.
Feed a high-quality, balanced diet — A healthy diet will keep your dog healthy from the inside out. It’s vital to start them on high-quality food even in puppyhood.
Stay up-to-date on preventatives — Avoid flea bite reactions by making sure your dog gets their monthly flea and tick treatments.
Groom your dog regularly — If you’re unsure of how often your dog needs to be groomed, talk with your vet or groomer. Regular brushing and shampooing help prevent dirt and debris buildup.
Give supplements when necessary — If your dog is susceptible to sensitive skin, ask your vet about supplements that can help. Salmon oils with fatty acids like omega-3s are known to improve shine in dog coats.
Schedule regular veterinary checkups — It’s important to maintain a vet-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) to be able to monitor your dog’s overall health. Pet parents should take their dog to the vet at least once a year. Puppies and senior dogs may need more frequent visits.
Research your breed — Some breeds are more prone to dry skin than others. Be sure to learn what skin conditions your pup is predisposed to and how to prevent them.
Keep skin folds and wrinkles clean — This is especially important in breeds with skin folds, like American bulldogs or pugs.