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  1. dogs skin and coat

Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin: The Ultimate Buying Guide

Posted by Dr. Roth on August 04, 2022

Wellness Care
What To Look for in Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin Header Photo

Occasional scratching is normal for dogs. Excessive scratching isn’t and can often indicate that something is wrong. Constant itchiness and irritation can make a dog’s life miserable. Pet parents can provide relief with a quality dog shampoo for itchy skin. 

What Should You Look for in a Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin?

A specially formulated shampoo is a common treatment for itchy skin in dogs. However, there are numerous options available. Finding the best one for the dog’s skin and coat health can feel overwhelming.

Here are a few of the essential ingredients to keep an eye out for when choosing a dog shampoo for dry, itchy skin:

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of the Australian tea tree. It can provide several benefits, including:

  • Soothing properties for itchy skin in dogs

  • Calming skin irritation and inflammation

  • Healing dry, damaged skin

  • Treating bacterial, yeast, and fungal infections 

  • Promoting a healthy coat

Note: While tea tree oil can be an effective ingredient for treating itchy skin conditions in dogs, pet parents should avoid using the essential oil on its own. Full-strength tea tree oil can cause unwanted skin reactions and be dangerous if ingested. Reputable dog shampoo manufacturers carefully measure and dilute the oil to ensure it provides beneficial effects.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil offers numerous health benefits. Ingested, it may help with inflammation, digestive issues, and brain function. It may also ease discomfort from arthritis and improve joint mobility.

There are topical benefits to coconut oil, too. In dog shampoos, this natural ingredient moisturizes skin, helping to ease dryness, flakiness, itchiness, and other signs of irritation. It also aids in maintaining a shiny, healthy coat. 

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a gel-like substance from the aloe plant’s leaves. Humans have used it for centuries to treat a variety of skin conditions. As it turns out, it may also be beneficial for dogs. The gel contains a range of skin-healing compounds, including:

  • Vitamins A, C, and E

  • Minerals such as calcium and magnesium

  • Saponins 

  • Salicylic acid 

These compounds can help reduce skin inflammation, itchiness, irritation, and discomfort. Aloe may also help speed skin healing and prevent infections. 

Natural Ingredients

Some dog shampoos contain harsh ingredients that can worsen skin irritation and discomfort. Be on the lookout for ingredients such as:

  • Artificial fragrances

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

  • Sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES)

  • Sodium benzoate

  • Polyethylene glycol

  • Propylene glycol

  • Alcohol 40

Instead, look for hypoallergenic shampoos with natural, organic ingredients. Along with the ingredients discussed above, oatmeal, baking soda, shea butter, and neem oil are safe for treating itchy dog skin.

Note: A dog shampoo label can claim it’s a natural product and still contain potentially harmful chemicals. Some companies use the term “natural” as a marketing gimmick. Always read the ingredient list. Generally, organic products are among the safest as they must undergo rigorous testing and meet strict standards. 

What if you aren’t sure which shampoos to use for dry, itchy dog skin? A professional vet can offer additional advice and offer helpful, vet-approved recommendations. 

What Causes Dry, Irritated Skin?

Dry, irritated skin can make dogs uncomfortably itchy. In many cases, itchiness leads to excessive scratching and licking, which can make the irritation (and itchiness) worse. Dog shampoo for itchy skin can help alleviate a dog’s discomfort and improve their skin health. 

In some cases of dry, irritated skin, additional treatment may be necessary. The first step is getting to the root of the problem. So, what causes itchy skin in dogs? Here are some of the most common reasons:

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease associated with allergies. Dogs with this condition have allergic reactions when they inhale or eat a particular allergen, such as dust, pollen, or a specific food ingredient. That reaction typically causes itchiness, which may be localized or occur all over the dog’s body. The most commonly affected areas are the ears, face, feet, armpits, and underbelly. Untreated, a dog can develop a secondary infection.

Treating atopic dermatitis depends on the allergen. Generally, the management of food allergies involves changing the dog’s diet. Dogs with airborne allergies may require medication to manage their symptoms. 

Skin Allergies

Dogs with skin allergies have a reaction when an allergen comes into direct contact with their skin. That allergic response can lead to dry skin, irritation, and itchiness. 

One common cause of skin allergies is fleas. Many dogs are allergic to flea saliva, which gets injected into their skin when fleas bite them. Like humans, dogs can also be allergic to various ingredients in laundry soaps, cleaning supplies, and air fresheners. Coming into contact with these substances can trigger an inflammatory response, irritation, and itching. 

For dogs with a flea allergy, treatment starts with eliminating the parasites. Treating the home and providing monthly flea and tick treatments to keep fleas away is also essential. For dogs with other skin allergies, avoiding the products that trigger reactions can prevent future issues. 

Bacterial Infections

Different bacterial skin infections (and fungal infections) can irritate a dog’s skin, causing inflammation, scaliness, and extreme itchiness. They may also result in unpleasant odors, hair loss, and discharge (which can leave crusty spots on the dog’s skin and fur). Dogs can sometimes develop secondary infections due to other issues, such as hot spots or allergies. 

Diagnosing bacterial and fungal infections typically involves a skin scrape. A vet can then prescribe the appropriate medication to eliminate the infection and the symptoms. 

Protect Your Dog’s Skin With Anti-Itch Shampoo

Dealing with dry, itchy skin is no fun for dogs or their pet parents. Fortunately, hypoallergenic shampoos formulated for canine skin can provide some much-needed relief without causing further irritation. Dog shampoo for itchy skin can also help improve and protect a dog’s overall skin (and coat) health. 

Do you have questions or concerns regarding your dog’s itchy skin or need help finding the right anti-itch medicated shampoo? Fuzzy is here to help. Fuzzy members can speak with our team of professional vets for advice and recommendations any time, day or night. They’ll also get discounts on all of our vet-approved products, including everything pet parents need to help maintain the health and appearance of their dog’s skin and coat. Sign up for your Fuzzy membership today!

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