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. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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…..

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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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