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Skin problems are common among many dog breeds, and many factors can cause this condition. Food allergies cause a significant number of these.
One of the main causes of itchy dog skin is allergies which can be triggered by certain food ingredients. Ten percent of allergies in dogs are caused by food. Also, mold and pollen can cause an allergic reaction. If you suspect that a food allergy is a culprit, you will want to methodically change the dog's diet according to your vet's recommendation.
This is done by using an elimination diet where the current food is replaced by one that he has never had. When you notice that the dog has improved, you can begin reintroducing foods from the old diet, starting with those that may be a problem. Beef and wheat products, for example, can often be troublesome; however, dairy products, eggs, lamb, chicken, rabbit, pork, soy, and fish can be included as well. Most dogs will have more than just one allergy. If there is going to be a reaction, it will occur within 2 days to a few weeks.
Some breeds including most retrievers, German shepherds, dachshunds and cocker spaniels are most likely to have food allergies.
Dogs can get dry skin just like humans, and it can be caused by allergies, mange or other skin conditions. During the winter, when there is low humidity, dry skin is more prevalent. A lack of fatty acids as would be found in fish oil can cause itchy dog skin due to dryness. A fish oil supplement will not only help but will add luster and shine to the coat.
Anyone who has had a dog knows that fleas can cause itchy dog skin. Fleas are viable to the naked eye but are difficult to spot, particularly on a dog with a heavy coat. What you will see are the droppings or eggs on the surface of the coat. Another indication that your dog has fleas is that he will lick or scratch excessively and will develop scabs or hot spots. Blood loss and anemia can result in extreme cases of flea infestation. If fleas are ingested, they can cause tapeworms. Eliminating fleas is best accomplished with a topical or oral treatment in addition to thorough decontamination of the home and yard.
If you suspect that you have a flea problem but need confirmation, you can pick off some of the droppings on the coat which look like dirt. If it turns red when you add a little water to it, the flea diagnosis is confirmed.
Another problem that can cause itchy dog skin is hot spots. These are small red spots that appear irritated and inflamed. They will be most prominent on the head, chest or hips and will feel hot to the touch. There is a wide range of conditions that cause hot spots, including insect bites, infections, allergies or excessive licking or chewing. To treat hot spots successfully, the first step is to determine the cause. Changing the diet and supplementing with fish oil can help relieve hot spots. Golden retrievers and other long hair dogs are more susceptible to hot spots in warm, humid weather.