Causes And Treatments For Your Pet’s Dry Itchy Skin


One of the most common dermatological complaints seen in the veterinary clinic is the presentation of itchy pets with dry, flaky skin. There can be many causes of this common scenario, including inhalant/contact allergies to molds, grasses, trees, pollens, dust mites, etc.  Flea bite allergies and food allergies may also play a role in other itchy pets. Parasites, including ringworm and mange mites are also occasionally seen in the veterinary clinic. Hormonal problems including thyroid and adrenal gland problems may also result in coat changes and sometimes itchy skin. Pets with chronic metabolic diseases may present with dry itchy skin as well.

Treatment of dry itchy skin will depend upon the underlying specific cause. It is certainly important to consider good flea control with products such as Frontline Plus, Advantage, Comfortis or Trifexis. Dietary factors are also important to evaluate in itchy pets, and if possible an all natural, preservative-free diet such as Wysong, PetGuard or Nature’s Variety should be considered. Fatty acid supplementation including Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Pet, Be Well, and Missing Link also may help many animals.

I have also found that adding digestive enzymes such as NaturVet Digestive Enzymes helpful with improving coats and lessening itching in many animals. Topical therapy including periodic shampooing with products such as an aloe vera and oatmeal shampoo and conditioner is also important to implement in many cases.

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  1. I would like some advice about my German Shepherd dog…Lexi

    She has been in constant pain for the last week or so..crying and whining constantly. She has been limping and favoring her right side. She wont even walk on it anymore. Its also been very cold here in Hesperia Ca where I live.
    I have checked her pads and both joints on her right paw..there is nothing to note. However she appears to hurt when I move or touch her right shoulder area. Yesterday I gave here some childrens aspirin in her food and it gave her some relief…didnt hear her cry at all. However it has returned this morning. I dont have the money at the moment to take her to the vet. She is almost a year old now. 11 months old at the moment. I hurt for her as I have arthritic knees and feel that is what she is suffering from. I would welcome any advice or consult anyone one that has had this problem with their pet or can tell me what to do.

    Helpless in Hesperia !

    Greg Lincoln

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 6, 2013 at 12:49 am

    It would probably be best to have a vet exam and evaluation. Buffered aspirin at dose of 5 mg per pound twice daily with food may help temporarily. Yucca intensive by azmira from 1800petmeds is also potentially helpful.

  3. What is topical revolution?

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Topical revolution is a topical prescription medication applied to dogs or cats that prevents fleas, heartworms and certain other external and internal parasites.

  5. I would like to know why my cat has dry flaky skin near his back part. He does not scratch alot just that when I brush him the dry skin is there……..Any answers

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 26, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Could be that he does not or cant groom there. Also dietary factors play role in dry skin. Try feeding low carb, low grain diet like wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds. Add fatty acid like be well as well as naturevet enzymes to meals.

  7. Dr. Dym,
    My grandson has a 15 yr old Dashund her name is Dixie. They have came to visit for a while and I have been noticing that all she does is scratch herself relentlessly. I had him bathe her and she was covered in flees, because dead flees were all over the tub botton….this has helped alot, Dixie is old has arthritis I’m sure….so what do you recommend that I can get for my grandson to give her that would help with the flee’s and her joint problem. Would sure appreciate some input.

  8. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 27, 2013 at 4:23 am

    For the fleas I would try a dose of comfortis from 1800petmeds. Also consider yucca intensive by azmira from 1800petmeds as natural supplement for arthritis, as well as glycoflex III, and proanthozone. See vet if signs persisr or worsen.

  9. My dog Sadie has had a terrible skin infection for the past 6 months. She has been to 4 different vets been on antibiotics & prednisone most of that time. I now am cooking her food as recommended by this website & she is on Dinovite. I cannot see that she is any better. Should she be on a dog food as well as the hamburger mixture?

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I think a proper home made diet is best. See or for options of home made diets and cooking. You could also consider consulting with a vet skilled in NAET therapy(which you can look up on line) or a veterinary homeopathy. To learn more see as well as my website Many homeopathic vets offer phone consultations.

  11. Hi Dr. Dym,

    My dog Samantha is constantly biting at her back, until the hair in that area has gotten darker then the rest of her, and a different texture. About 12 years ago, I had taken my previous dogs to you when you were in Moorestown, who bit at their feet constantly, like Samantha does on her back. You had told me at that time to get Blue Green Algae, and put it in their food, which worked wonderfully. I was wondering if you think that may help Samantha, and where I can purchase it. Previously I got it at a pet store on Route 130 in Cinnaminson, but they don’t carry it now. If you don’t think that would work, what do you recommend?

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Patti. Nice to hear from you again. The blue green algae is still an excellent supplement that is made by klamath lake farms, which you can google on line and find. You describe signs of chronic allergies, which can be frustrating and take a long time to treat. Also add omega 3 fatty acid to meals such as nordic naturals pet omega 3 fatty acid from 1800petmeds. May be worth it to consult with you again, as I do offer phone consultations nationwide. To learn more see my website Hope to speak to you again soon.

  13. My cat did have fleas and now that the fleas are gone, she is still itching. She itches mainly around her neck, lower back and back end. There is some hair loss and I have also seen her pull out some hair. What do you recommend I do? I have bathed her with oatmeal shampoo and also applied hydrocortisone spray for the itch.

  14. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 9, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Try chlorphenirimine at dose of 2 mg twice daily which is good antihistamine. Also try dMG liquid and be well fatty acid supplement from 1800petmeds. See vet for allergy workup if signs persist

  15. No doubt about it that pets health is very important. We have to take care of their health, along with pets health one should have to focus on personal health and beauty like effective hair removal, should be smart and active by exercising properly, skin issues. These all things are important.

  16. I wanted to know of any type of dog food would b good 4 my dog who had a few bladder stones over 4 months ago. Also treats he is aways looking 4 them since we cut them out. Natural or homemade. Also at times my cat looses hair in hind section 4 wks at a time & goes away. something I could do to help keep from having it reapear?

  17. I have 2 lionhead rabbits, 1 male & 1 female, related, not fixed, kept separately. I have them both on Zupreem pellets & Timothy hay. I use to feed both fruits & veggies too. The female kept getting poopy butt, so I took her off the fruit & veggies, It’s been a while & she was doing better, now she has it again! The male has never had it, What do you suggest? Also, is uncooked oatmeal okay for rabbits? Thanks!

  18. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 24, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I dont recommend oatmeal for rabbits. Perhaps consider trying probiotics added to her food. Transfer factor also may be helpful for immune system function.

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 24, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Make sure cat on good flea control product like flea 4x from 1800petmeds. Also add fatty acid to meals such as cod liver oil from nordic naturals. As for dog, may need prescription diet like Royal canine SO diet from your vet. Also consider home made diet option for urinary stones as described in book on canine home diets by Donald Strombeck, phd which you can find on line

  20. We have 2 Chihuahuas – a mother and son. They both have developed spots on there back where the hair turns white appears dead and comes out in clumps with no pain when pulled. Is this normal shedding? I look and see no bugs but they are scratching – not excessively. What do you think? they are not hairless but their hair is less than 1/2 inch long.

  21. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    NEed to have proper vet exam and skin scrape and evaluation of skin discharge under microscope for proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

  22. my corgi has dark hard like bumps in his tail n top of his back. when I bath him twice a week some of the scabs fall off but alot of them r still their. he has had fleas i am using adams flea shampoo. it kills the fleas. and then I use malaseb medicated shampoo for dogs n horses I got from petmeds. I was wondering is it a yeast infection from the flea bites and if so will the malaseb eventually remove all of those hard dark scabs.

  23. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 18, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Malaseb may help but your dog also may need oral antibiotic or antifungal therapy. If fleas still an issue, try oral comfortis from 1800petmeds.

  24. hi.i have dog has bad loss hair and chew hair some spots but she has itchy all the times but she ia allergies so she had dog foods form vet for allergic but what is best shampoo and spray for itchy ?but I see her skins have some red spots from chew hair off .Let me know I plan to order the shampoo and spray soon thank u

  25. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 26, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Try malaseb shampoo every few days from 1800petmeds, as well as Be soothed topical spray.

  26. My four year old dachsund has peeling skin on his tummy. What treatment do you recommend?

  27. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 6, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Hi Pamela. Need accurate diagnosis for recommended treatment. See vet. Make sure on good natural diet like wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds. Add fatty acid like be well to meals and shampoo with 1800petmeds aloe vera and oatmeal shampoo and conditioner very few days. This should help.

  28. I ordered the malasab shampoo from pet meds for my dog luke. and I also use the adams flea shampoo for dogs. His hair has grown back on his tail n top of his back. I have also noticed that alot of the dark scabs that was on him have been coming off! thank goodness.I just ordered more of the malaseb shampoo I think it really helps remove the scabs!!!

  29. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 9, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing. If signs relapse, best to also see your vet to workup for underlying allergies as well.

  30. My yorkie-poo was recently diagnosed with allergies: fleas, dust/storage mites, type of fungus and beef. He is undergoing allergy shots. I’ve switched his pet food and watch the treats that I purchase. He has frontline every month. I’ve added omega 3 to his diet every morning and purchased Epi Soothe Oatmeal Cream Rinse and Conditioner from 1800 Petmeds. With everything I have done he is still itching his paws (especially) and body still. I’m wondering if he has a skin disease as well or something else. Any suggestions?? I’m at a loss for relief for my dog: Pierre. 🙁

  31. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 3, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    May need stronger systemic presciption allergy meds such as temaril p or perhaps atopica. You could also try zyrtec at dose of 5 mg once daily.

  32. Andrea,

    Instead of giving your dog Frontline, which is very harmful, add some brewer’s yeast powder to his food. It will keep the fleas off and it also is good for them. I give it to my cat’s every time I fill their food bowl. 🙂

  33. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 7, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Hi Anita.
    Thanks for sharing

  34. does the brewers yeast help with the scratching? if so where do u buy it at? my dog is constantly scratching I am using the malaseb shampoo for yeast n bacterial infections. its helping a little but he still scratches. thanks

  35. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    It may help with scratching if the problem is due to fleas. CAn get at local health food store. Also consider antihistamine like benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily and adding fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3 fatty acid to meals from 1800petmeds. See vet for allergy workup if signs persist or worsen

  36. Thank you!
    I had to take Pierre back to my vet; he had raw spots from digging, scratching and licking so bad. Hes’ on Clavamox for a little while. Hope it helps whatever is going on with him but he still digging, scratching and licking; however his bumps and inflammed skin looks a liitle better already.

  37. Hi Andrea,

    I had to get the Brewer’s Yeast online at The Vitamin Shoppe. I went to a local one and they only had it in the tablets or capsule form.

    As far as it helping with the scratching, I used a herbal ointment which I purchased online from Only Natural Pet. It is used for superficial skin infections and irritations. I used this on my one cat who was biting and pulling her hair out around her backside and butt area. It took at least a good month for those areas to totally clear up. 🙂

  38. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 10, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Hi Anita. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  39. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 10, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Hi Andrea. Also consider antihistamine like chlorphenirimine and supplements like DMG liquid and be well fatty acid from 1800petmeds, which can help with allergies.

  40. I have a 2 year old basset hound with allergies. she is on trizchlor4 shampoo and a conditioner She takes hydroxyzine for months now and do not notice a huge diifference. . She has been taking EFA1N for about a week now. This all has helped some but she still scratches. I was thinking of trying the yucca intensive. Would that help> I don’t really want to resort to a steriod. any other suggestions please?

  41. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 2, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Yucca intensive is find to try as is proanthozone from 1800petmeds. Also consider antihistamine zyrtec, at dose of one half mg per pound once daily. Consulting with holistic vet also an option. To learn more about homeopathy and holistic vet medicine to go my website Many homeopathic vets like myself do offer phone consultations.

  42. Hello,
    I have an 8 year old shitzu ,I notice under her arm pit and down her arm on the right side I see that there are bumps and scabs and hair missing and I see she is chewing at it.what could it be and what can I give her.

  43. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Most likely secondary bacterial or yeast infection from underlying inhalent/contact allergy in this breed. I would bathe with malaseb shampoo from 1800petmeds every few days, and try benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. If signs persist or worsen, see vet for possible antibiotic, etc

  44. Hi I have 12 yr old shitzu that constantly itches and has flaky skin. I keep brusing her and the skin keeps flaking off. She has been to vet for 2 yrs with antibiotics, predizone revolution fish oil different foods and shampoos and nothing herbs including garlic, coconut oil. HELP! I just do not know what else to give her. Thank you for your help!

  45. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 20, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I would try and find a vet in your area who may have the new super allergy drug called apoquel, which we have had great success with in practice on controlling itching in allergic dogs. Keep up with the coconut oil. You can also try zyrtec at dose of one half mg per pound once daily, as well as supplement quercetin from health food store which also may help with allergic itching. Consider going more holistic. See recipes in book Dr PItcairn’s Guide to natural health for dogs and cats by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, phd, as food may play big role here. ALso consider working with homeopathic vet. to learn more see me my website Many homeopathic vets do offer phone consultations.

  46. I have 3 rescue dogs. The youngest (Buster) just turned 5 yrs old. He was dumped in the woods when he was a few weeks old. We have had 2 other dogs for 12 years. After Buster, it got too expensive to take them all to the vet. I give them frontline & any other needs they have, except now, I can’t afford a vet to prescribe heartgard or any other heartworm med for me. What am I left to do for my loving dogs? A neighbors dog passed recently & they gave us their heartgard, but I used the last of it last month.

  47. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 16, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Hi Flo I am real sorry but there is nothing I can do to help. Check with low cost humane society vet clinic in your area who may be more economical for heartworm testing to write you scripts for heartworm meds you can fill at 1800petmeds.

  48. I have a 12 year old rat terrier who itches like crazy due to the fleas and her skin is really nasty looking near her bottom. its like a human scrape… seems like what ever I try doesn’t help her at all. she sneezes all the time I thought it was her food so I changed it and she still sneezes like crazy.. the vet not so helpful.. need to know what is the cheapest flea medicine I can get for her and should I go back to her pedigree that I have had her on? my other dog buster seems not to be gaining any weight for I think his age.. my vet said he would not get any taller , but he would get wider.. well he has not done both.. what should I do \\

  49. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 13, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    For Buster, a full medical workup is indicated to make sure no medical reasons why no weight gain. BLood work and stool check for parasites is suggested. As for flea medicine, try flea 4x from 1800petmeds. You could try over the counter antihistamine like zyrtec at dose of 5 mg once daily for sneezing and itchy skin. Remember to treat home for fleas as well.

  50. I have two Shih Tzus 11 years old (litter mates) and one of them started scratching 4 months ago and nothing seems to help. They go to the groomer every two weeks, are rarely outside for any length of time. I’ve been to 4 different vets and all of indicated it could be food. Odd thing there is they have been eating the same food all their lives so would she develop an allergy after that many years. One vet had her on benydryl whidh did nothing. Another vet said to try claritan and it did nothing. Another vet suggested a blood test, however, when I went back, she was no longer there and another vet said she didn’t believe in the blood tests. Then another vet said they could do the “patch testing” but she didn’t believe in that either. Very frustrating.

  51. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I would ask for referral to vet dermatologist in your area, who is expert at skin testing for allergies, which is still considered gold standard for allergy diagnosis and treatment in vet medicine. Most likely have inhalent/contact allergies known as atopy, which is allergies to molds, grasses, trees, pollens, etc Can also ask vets about allergy meds like atopica, as well as new drug called apoquel which you can read about on line, but this product is on backorder next several months. I have found low dose temaril p therapy quite effective in many cases without alot of side effects. You can also look into NAET therapy with a holistic vet trained in that for allergy treatment. Hope this helps.

  52. How does Coconut Oil help Dry itchy skin chewing and pulling hare out

  53. I have a shepherd husky mix. Her fur is very brittle and I was wondering if there was something I could give her or apply to her fur. Any thing would help me I am at a lost.

  54. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 12, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Try adding supplements like Be well from 1800petmeds and enzymes like naturevet enzymes to meals. I also find that probiotics can help as well such as Fortiflora…..

  55. my cat is scratch her lower back side. the hair is going and her skin is broken…is it safe too give her Benadryl… are there any home remedies I can try… thx CAROL

  56. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Benadryl is fine at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. You can also try malaseb shampoo from 1800petmeds every few days, as well as yucca intensive and adding a fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3 fatty acid

  57. We have a 12 year old mixed breed (bassett hound & schnauzer) who itches so bad he chews, scratches til he has no hair on his back side. We have tried shampoos, sprays, powders, Benadryl. We are at wits end what to do for our baby. Is there anything else out there we my have missed?

  58. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 22, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    He may need a cortisone injection for some quick fix relief and then a long term allergy control solution. ALso some pets with chronic itchy skin may need oral antibiotics and/or antifungals to help with yeast and/or bacterial skin infection that may be involved. Also you could try Zyrtec at dose of one half mg per pound once to twice daily, which is over the counter and helps some pets. Add yucca intensive to meals from 1800petmeds, as well as fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3.

  59. Have 17lb. male Teddybear. 6 years old. Bad skin allergies treated with shots, atopica and apoquel. Still on shots but not other 2. None of this seems to help. Just put him on thyriod meds. Was1.5 now is 3.5 which they said was in normal range so the dose is to stay the same.Has been on thyroid for about 2 months now and skin is dryer and crusty. His hair has thinned out over the years but now it falls out in clumps. His under belly is almost bald.Bath him with Malaseb. He gets so oily I have to bath him every other day. Constant licking and scratching. Skin infections! We have spent thousands of dollars on this dog and don’t know what to do next to relieve him.Help!

  60. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 16, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    I would see vet dermatologist for proper allergy skin testing or blood testing… Also consider restricted diet or hydrolyzed protein dietary trial for a few months

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