It’s important to find the cause and a lasting solution. If they continue to scratch, it could cause worse problems, like abrasions leading to an infected area or worse…
Some potential causes for dry, itchy or sensitive skin
- Ticks, Fleas, Mites or Parasites – these irritating critters are ones you want to look for and get rid of as soon as you can. This is both for the comfort and health of your dog and also for other pets and household members. I suggest using tweezers on ticks and make sure you get the whole tick. Use a good natural solution to get rid of the fleas – both on your pet and in and around the home and yard. Natural works best also for the ear mites (we offer a great fast acting ear wash that does the trick) and keeps them from spreading to other pets. Parasites could be external or internal, so you may need to see your vet if you have reason to suspect a parasite problem.
- Stickers, Grass Awns or Other Attached Plants – running around in grassy areas, especially with taller grasses, grains and plants with seeds or stickers can cause them to get caught in the fur and be difficult for your dog or cat to remove. It’s always wise to check them whenever they’ve been in such areas, as they can cause pain, itching, and even bury themselves deeper into the tissue or cause further problems if ingested. (Read more here.)
- Grooming Products – Shampoos, conditioners, detanglers, grooming and dematting sprays, pet colognes and other products used on the skin and hair often contain harsh chemicals sometimes masked by added “natural” ingredients to make things sound or smell better for your pet. Even some natural ingredients like oatmeal, vinegar, alcohol, tea tree oil, gentian violet – can all aggravate sensitive, sore or infected areas on your pet’s skin. Or they can dry out the coat and the skin and cause itchy, dry, scaly areas or hot spots from constant scratching or biting by your pet to find relief. Left unattended, this can potentially get infected or at the very least cause more anxiety and discomfort for your fur baby than is needed. Try changing shampoos to see what a difference a soothing natural product without any harsh chemicals can make.
- Seasonal Allergies – If your pet is highly sensitive to the pollen and other things in the air during certain seasons, it could cause extra itching and sensitive skin, plus even a dull or dry coat. Using a soothing natural wash to help relieve the discomfort and form a protective barrier for less sensitivity can help. Our natural pet shampoo all-in-1 can help with this.
- Food Allergies – Sometimes the ingredients in foods can cause havoc on your dog’s or cat’s system – both internally (stomach issues especially) and externally (skin and coat problems). Common foods that trigger gastrointestinal problems include: corn, wheat, gluten, soy, chicken – and food containing chemical ingredients. Note: Since the elimination process of testing for food allergies can be time-consuming and intensive, it would be wise to rule out the possibility of any skin or coat issues being related to grooming products first. Many have been surprised by what they were sure were food allergies actually turning out to be improved greatly by just changing out the shampoo they used for grooming. But they can go hand-in-hand. Working with your vet can help you solve the food allergy puzzle.
- Environmental Irritants – Normal cleaning products and household chemicals as they are being used, even second-hand smoke and air pollution – both indoors & out – can all contribute to a dull coat and drier skin over time. While there is not a lot you can do about many of these, be aware of what you can change that will help both your pet’s and your household members better health overall. Needless to say, you will want to keep chemicals and cleaning products in a safe place along with anything else your pet should not be getting on their skin or possibly ingesting.
Hey, I’m in Trouble! Help, Please!
When you see these signs or behaviors in your dog or cat, they may be trying to tell you that one of the situations above has occurred.
- Scratching or biting certain areas continually
- Limping or wincing when walking
- Rubbing or pawing at the ear
- General scratching and itching
- Not their usual calm or playful self – seeming agitated or restless
- Red or infected areas
- Lethargic – not wanting to eat
- Vomiting, diarrhea or any other unwell sign
Now You Know the Dangers & What To Look For!
You can see how important it is to be aware of where your pet has been and what they may have been exposed to that could potentially harm them if gone unnoticed.
As you are relaxing with your pet and whenever you groom them, but especially when they come in from outside, take time to check all the areas when potential unwanted attachments could be hiding. This includes between the paws, down the legs and the underbelly, areas where there are folds of skin, in the ear and under the ear flap, throughout and under the tail. Check also the teeth and gum areas. If they tried removing a sticker or grain seed with their teeth, it could have attached itself inside their mouth. Swallowing it would not be good. (See more info on Grass Awns, Seeds & Stickers)
If you find something than needs removing, use a pair of tweezers and a good firm grip, making sure you remove all parts of the object below the skin. If you need help removing unsafe items, make an appointment with your vet as soon as feasible. There’s no sense in letting your dog or cat go through more discomfort than needed – and especially when there’s a chance that waiting could cause further or more serious damage.
If you don’t find anything attached to them initially, you can either check with your pet professional for advice with their condition. The more things on the list above that you can isolate and eliminate, the quicker it will be to get straight to the cause of your pet’s angst.