What To Do About Your Dog's Itchy Skin

Dry itchy skin in dogs can range from the simple and easy to treat dry or flaky skin to something much more serious. One thing is sure, it’s miserable for your dog, it can cause skin damage and irritation, and can also quickly interrupt the sleep you both need when your dog is awake scratching all night. Some common causes of dry itchy skin can be remedied fairly quickly with a change in your dog’s grooming routine. 


German shepherds have thick double coats where a lot of dead flaky skin can hide.  Brushing your dog regularly with a good grooming brush removes dead hair and exfoliates skin that has built up in his undercoat. Bathing your dog too little or not often enough is a common reason why dogs get dry skin. By using a soap free, skin conditioning shampoo, you can improve the condition of your dog’s coat and skin.  Each dog is different and the condition of his coat, skin, and smell will dictate when you bathe him.  



Common causes for dry itchy skin:  


  • Bathing too seldom-or too much.


  • Weather-dry, hot climate and cold winter weather can cause dry skin and flaking.


  • High humidity-dog may need more frequent bathes in humid weather.


  • Allergies-second major cause of dogs scratching (can be triggered by environment or food allergies). 


  • Atopic dermatitis is caused by allergens.


  • Lack of Omega-3 fatty acids (causes flaky skin).


  • Lack of nutrition or feeding your dog an unbalanced food low in rich fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.


  • Medical-metabolic conditions, thyroid disease, bacteria, fungus, parasites all may cause skin issues.


  • Boredom-some dogs scratch out of boredom.


  • Anxiety-dogs suffering from anxiety frequently scratch compulsively.


  • Hormone imbalance.


  • General dermatitis.


  • Inflammation associated with a chronic disease, bowel problems, or allergies.


  • Immune system disorders.


  • Demodicosis-Red mange or Demodectic mange, red mange is caused by the red mange mite that is commonly found on dogs, red mange proliferates when an immune imbalance occurs. Demodectic mange is usually the result of an endocrine disorder. Geriatric dogs with impaired immune systems are also susceptible.


There are some simple things you can do at home to sooth your dog’s itchy skin.  


  • Change diet. Unlike people, the histamines in dogs actually travel on the dog’s skin which is why the scratching and itching is so intense, frequently affecting the paws and anus.


  • Remove allergic triggers, if possible.


  • Use safe nontoxic cleaning solutions on flooring and pet bedding.


  • Use soap free, organic, conditioning shampoo.


  • Apply coconut oil to itchy spots and add to food (dosage will vary depending on weight).


  • Clean paws after playing outdoors in a soaking solution of Providone iodine and water (mix to the color of tea and soak feet for 3 – 5 minutes).


  • Alternate foot soak-one gallon of water, one cup hydrogen peroxide, one cup of vinegar. Soak for 3 minutes and pat dry.


  • After bathing, rinse dog in a solution of one gallon of water to one cup of vinegar or lemon juice


  • If the dog suffers from yeast infection, switch to a low glycemic diet that helps inhibit yeast growth.


  • Flea prevention.


  • Apply Virbac Resisooth or other dog lotion to relive dry itchy skin.

If changing your dog’s grooming routine doesn’t help, a trip to your veterinarian is advised.