Dogs suffer from itchy skin for a variety of reasons, ranging from dry skin to allergic dermatitis. Some shampoos claim to help relieve your dog’s itchiness, but you need to read the ingredient lists to avoid harsh chemicals that may actually worsen your dog’s skin and overall health if used too frequently. Choosing the best anti-itch shampoo for your dog requires understanding the cause of the problem and knowing which ingredients to look for and to avoid for his particular condition.
Cause of Itchiness
Before you shop for an anti-itch shampoo for your dog, determine the cause and severity of the itchiness to narrow down the options. Itchiness can be caused by dry skin or dandruff, flea infestations, ringworm or other fungal infections, or dermatitis. If you notice a rash, crusty areas on the skin, or if he concentrates his itching in a single spot, the problem may be contact dermatitis. If you see fleas or flea dirt on your dog, then that's a sure sign that fleas are the problem. Regardless of what you discover on your own, it's always a good idea to also get your vet’s opinion. He can rule out harder to diagnosis possibilities, such as ringworm or atopic dermatitis.
Natural Anti-Itch Ingredients for Mild Cases
If your dog has dry skin or mild cases of dermatitis, you should use a gentle, anti-itch shampoo lacking harsh chemicals. Just as with humans, oatmeal soothes dog’s skin and helps relieve itching, so look for shampoos containing oatmeal as one of their primary ingredients. Shampoos that include aloe vera and vitamin E (which helps if taken internally as well) can help reduce the inflammation and dryness associated with excessive scratching. Too much scratching can cause further complications, including bacterial infections, so soothing the itchiness is imperative in order to stop additional health problems from developing. If you want to avoid harsh medications for fleas, you can try shampoos containing tea tree oil. Other useful essential oils for itchy pups include lavender, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, evening primrose for skin soothing and rosemary for preventing dandruff.
When choosing a medicated anti-itch over-the-counter product, be very selective, and always consult your vet first. Some products, such as Sentry HC Dermasphere, contain methylisothiazolinone, which according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, can cause allergic skin reactions in humans so proceed with caution and monitor your dog closely for adverse reactions, or to see if the itching actually worsens. Steer clear of anti-itch shampoos containing cancer-causing chemicals such as formaldehyde. Common OTC Ingredients such as hydrocortisone and lidocaine are generally safer and are typically effective for mild to moderate cases.
If over-the-counter products do not reduce your dog’s itchiness, talk to your veterinarian. She can prescribe anti-itch shampoos or other products that may be more effective. However, you should still ask about the safety of the ingredients in these products. Pramoxine anti-itch shampoo, for example, is used by veterinarians to combat itching caused by dermatitis and other skin problems. However, it also contains propylene glycol and pramoxine hydrochloride, which may cause allergic reactions, thus worsening the problem. When used under the supervision of your veterinarian, these products may be appropriate for short-term use to address the cause of the itching.
By Amy S. Jorgensen
Animal Sense Pet Products: When Choosing Shampoo Read the Label
Dog Time: Dog Shampoo
Pets Go Natural: Help Your Dog Stop Itching
Drugs.com: Pramoxine Anti Itch Shampoo
Veterinary Medicine Labels: Sentry HC Dermasphere
Environmental Working Group: Methylisothiazolinone
National Cancer Institute: Formaldehyde
Environmental Working Group: Propylene Glycol
Drugs.com: Pramoxine Hydrochloride
Skin Tags on Dogs: 5 Popular Antifungal Dog Shampoos
WebMD: Atopic Dermatitis
WebMD: Ringworm in Dogs
WebMD: Irritants and Contact Dermatitis in Dogs
About the Author
Amy Jorgensen has ghostwritten more than 100 articles and books on raising and training animals. She is also an amateur dog trainer. She has also written more than 200 blog posts, articles, and ebooks on wedding and party planning on behalf of professionals in the field.