Why is my dog so itchy?

Emma Gibson

Is your dog constantly itchy, scratching or paw biting?  Problems that more than 70% of dogs live with….  Is it environmental, food or something else?


If the answer was simple dogs would have stopped itching.  But it's not.  Pet parents can try everything and not manage to eliminate the cause.  Allergy testing has mixed reviews and success, so what should you do?

Check for Fleas

There's always the possibility your dog has fleas, even if they are on preventative medication.  The easiest way to tell is to bathe your dog really well, we like to use Lemon Castile liquid soap, baby shampoo or Dawn if fleas are suspect.  If you can bathe in a white tub, or sink for small dogs you'll see the fleas in the water.  If you do see fleas you'll need to work hard to get them off your dog and harder to get them out of your home.  Read more here.



Yeast infection

If you know your dog does not have fleas we recommend a bath too, if you see flaky skin or yeast.  Yeast overgrowth can make dogs itchy, particularly around the ears, underbelly and armpits and paws.  If your dog's paws smell a bit like corn chips it's likely there have an overgrowth of yeast bacteria on their skin.  For toy dogs, fill a sink with a couple of gallons of water and add a cup each of white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.  Stand your dog in this for a good few minutes, and sponge the solution under their belly and armpits.  Don't rinse this off, the ingredients are all non-toxic and it's totally fine for your dog to lick the soaked areas after you've towel dried them.  For bigger dogs do the same in a bathtub and double the ingredients to 2 cups each.



Allergy testing

Vets and pet parents are often quick to blame allergies on foods.  This of course does occur, most commonly with grains or chicken.  Try eliminating these ingredients for a few weeks to see if your dog's itching improves.  But much more likely, especially in Texas, is environmental allergies.  With so many species of pollen and grasses it's very hard to narrow down, some people do find it helps to wash paws after walking on grass.  Your vet may recommend allergy testing for your dog, or you can order this yourself and do it at home with Nutriscan.   Allergy testing does have mixed reviews.  Some people find it very accurate and helpful, others not so much.  But we think it's a good starting point to identify both environmental and food allergies.



If you or your vet believe your dog has food allergies it's worth eliminating the most likely culprits - soy, corn and chicken.  Good news, you can do this with Ciao Bella Burgers - No Chicken!   We formulated these with Sensitive dogs in mind.  Whether itchy, sensitive stomach, or low fat dietary requirements.


Because of the large amount of filler and processed or rendered ingredients in commercial dry or canned dog food, it's often one of these that can be the culprit of your dogs itching.  Dr Becker and other leading veterinarians recommend a fully complete and balanced fresh food diet, so you know everything your dog is eating and if food allergies are the culprit they can be eliminated.   

Most commercial dog foods do not contain Omega 3 because despite its importance in a healthy diet it is not required by AAFCO as an essential nutrient.  Omega 3 is vital to optimal health for its anti-inflammatory properties and essential fatty acids.  These essential fatty acids keep your dog's skin and coat soft, supple and free from dry flaky skin, that often contributes to itching.  Omega 3 in its best form comes from fish and marine sources and must be of the highest quality and sustainable sources.  Ciao Bella Burgers sources the finest quality human grade fish oil from anchovies, sardines and mackerel.

If you would like to supplement Omega 3 you can add fresh whole fish, a good quality fish oil for dogs, or tinned sardines in water from your supermarket.  Fresh raw eggs are also a good source of Omega 3 for your dog.  Whenever starting a new supplement always build up to the recommended dose gradually over the first week of using!

Household products

Take a look at your household cleaning products.  Especially air fresheners and floor cleaner.  We choose to wash our floors with hot water and a cup of vinegar.  Non toxic , kills germs and repels bugs! 

Also make sure you are using no chemical or pesticide treatments in your yard!



If your dog has recently been vaccinated this can trigger allergic reactions.  This is not at all uncommon, but unfortunately all you can really do is wait it out and hope it passes, or seek advice from your veterinarian.  Many dogs only find relief from steroid shots or other vet prescribed medication. This can be a short term solution but should be avoided long term if possible.


If your dog is truly miserable and you've tried all the above then we suggest you take your vet's advice, a holistic veterinarian will give you many other options if you can find one locally!

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