dog shampoo for itchy skin

Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin [When It’s a Problem + the Best Shampoo]

Fleas, allergies, dry skin — oh my! Itchy skin is unfortunately common for dogs because there are so many reasons they start to scratch. If you notice your dog itching more than usual, you might want to consider dog shampoo for itchy skin. This will provide some relief and may heal certain skin conditions. 


But not every dog shampoo is made equally. Many commercial dog shampoos contain harsh chemicals and other dangerous ingredients that can sting their eyes and further irritate their skin. It’s time to take a closer look at what’s causing your dog to itch and what shampoos can help comfort them! 



What Causes Itchy Skin on a Dog?

Itchy skin is quite common for dogs, and there are a surprising amount of reasons for it. It’s important to try and pinpoint why your dog is itchy so that you can find a solution quickly and provide your pup some relief. Here are the most common reasons your dog gets itchy skin. 


Bad Diet

If your dog has nutritional deficiencies or dehydration, its skin might become dry. Dry skin leads to white flakes and cracked skin. This can become irritating for your dog because it causes the skin to be itchy and uncomfortable. 


Always make sure that your dog has fresh, clean water. Keep an eye on the water dish throughout the day. If you notice hair or other contaminants, replace it with clean water. 


Pick a brand of dog food that has all of the essential things your dog needs each day. This includes a quality protein source, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Protein and fat are very important for your dog’s coat and skin. 



small pup itching on street



Dry Air

You might notice that your dog’s itching comes back with a vengeance during certain times of the year, and it could be due to dry air and low humidity. In the winter, people will often blast the heat, which dries out the air. This can leave your dog’s skin dry and flaky. 


If your dog has dry skin, you might also notice that they instantly scratch at an area of their body that has just been touched or pet. If this is the case, check your pet’s coat for dander. Simply part their fur and check for flakes of skin. During the winter (a dry season), avoid heavy brushing and ensure that their skin is not red or irritated after grooming.


If you’re using a space heater or other portable heating device, make sure it’s not near your dog’s bed or favorite areas of the house. Instead, keep your pooch warm by swaddling them in a blanket or purchasing a heated dog bed. Dogs can get cold, too, despite having more fur than us. 



A common source of itchy skin for dogs is their food. Food allergies can cause sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy skin. Many pet owners are surprised to learn that their dog has a food allergy if they’ve been on the same food for years. But food allergies can develop at any time and are often caused by repeated exposure to the allergen. 


Dogs can also be allergic to things in the environment, including pollen, dust mites, and mold. Fortunately, these allergies are a bit more predictable. For example, you can expect:

  • Pollen during springtime
  • Dust when cleaning or moving
  • Mold in damp areas



This unfortunately common parasite has a way of finding its way to your dog’s coat. Once they jump onto your unsuspecting pup, they will make their way to your dog’s skin and start biting. This can cause your dog to have very irritated, itchy skin. 


If you notice your dog constantly itching, use a flea comb to search thoroughly for fleas. Keep an eye on your rug and furniture throughout the home. Fleas aren’t always on your dog, and they can lay eggs around the house. 


When you go on a walk with your dog, it’s often important to provide them with flea treatment beforehand. Whether you use a flea collar or medication, it can drastically reduce the risk of fleas entering your home.


If your dog already has fleas, you’ll need to treat your dog (and home) immediately. Fleas will only continue to spread, even starting to bite you and other family members. Luckily, there are plenty of excellent flea spray options.



Fleas are no fun, but they aren’t the only parasite that can latch onto your poor pooch. Mites are microscopic and can’t be seen by the naked eye. But you’ll know your dog is infested when you see hair loss, sores, and inflamed skin. This is also known as mange. 


If your dog gets mites, contact a veterinarian immediately. They will have to treat your dog and give them a prescription. Without treatment, dogs with mange can experience severe itching and pain. Some dogs even lose the majority of their fur. 



As if mites and fleas weren’t enough for your furry friend, ticks can also find their way to dogs. Ticks dig into a section of your dog’s skin and irritate that area. When you spot a tick, it’s very important to make sure that you remove the head and body. Leaving the head in your dog’s skin can cause infection and further itching. 



Excessive scratching is one symptom of your pup being stressed. This is especially common in unstimulated dogs left alone for long periods. You can also spot stress-related scratching on dogs that get antsy before a walk. 


To avoid further itching and possible skin damage, make sure that your dog feels fulfilled. Prevent boredom by providing your dog with daily exercise. This can be a simple walk, a beautiful hike in the woods, or playtime in the backyard. Spend time socializing with your pup as well to keep them happy. 


Dogs with anxiety will have compulsive behaviors that are harder to stop. A common compulsion is itching. If you notice that your dog is excessively scratching, causing its skin to turn red or inflamed, contact a veterinarian immediately. Severe scratching can cause severe damage to your dog’s skin and coat. 


Skin Infections

Skin conditions can lead to a lot of discomforts, causing your dog to itch as a way to get relief. Some possible skin infections include: 

  • Yeast infection
  • Impetigo


Skin infections can cause your dog to scratch certain areas. They might also start to lick around affected areas for comfort. Some skin infections can even cause blistering, folliculitis, and other painful and frustrating conditions. 


Genetic Disorders

Some conditions that lead to dry skin are genetic. This is often due to dogs with hereditary diseases still being used in breeding pools. 


One example is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. About 70% of Cavaliers have signs of a condition known as syringomyelia. The signs usually appear when the dog turns six. Syringomyelia affects the spinal cord, causing nerve damage. Whether it’s a mild skin tingling or a severe burning, this will cause your dog to itch. 



Is It Normal for Dogs to Be Itchy? 

If you notice your dog itching behind its ears, there’s no need to raise the alarm. Just like us, dogs will occasionally scratch a regular itch. 


When a dog starts licking, scratching, and chewing more frequently than usual, it might have an underlying problem. Keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior. If they seem uncomfortable, stressed, or lethargic, your canine companion could be reacting to the frustrations of dry, itchy skin. 



Signs Your Dog Might Be Itching Too Much 

We’ve all scratched an itch on our head or leg, and dogs feel random itchiness just like us. Additionally, licking their paws for a few minutes after a walk or shaking their head after a nap is normal. But your dog may be itching too much if they regularly rub their face, bite at their paws, or scratch at their body. 


Always monitor your dog’s behavior. Some dogs naturally itch more than others. If you notice a change in the frequency your dog is itching, they are most likely dealing with irritation or an underlying condition. See if any specific actions or activities are the cause. You can also check if it happens during certain times of the year. 


If your dog is itching a lot more than usual, set up a vet appointment. Your dog may have a skin condition or underlying health concern that needs addressing. Vets will provide a cause, solution, and treatment plan for your dog’s specific needs. 



cute yellow lab in bathtub



What’s the Best Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin?

While you should always reach out to a vet if your dog has skin concerns, you can always soothe your dog in the meantime with some at-home treatments. 


Bathing your dog can be healthy for its skin and coat. If you’re looking to give your dog a bath, keep in mind that not all shampoo is made equal when it comes to itchy skin! Here are some shampoos that are beneficial for dogs with itchy skin. 


HolistaPet CBD Shampoo

HolistaPet’s CBD shampoo was formulated specifically with sensitive skin in mind. It’s formulated with a soy-based protein conditioner and full spectrum CBD to help moisturize and condition your pet’s coat while being gentle and soothing on the skin. 


CBD is a great addition to shampoo for sensitive skin because of the physical benefits it can provide for your pup. CBD is a non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid found in the hemp plant that interacts with the receptors in your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). 


The ECS is in charge of your dog’s overall well-being and balance. It includes all of the major systems in the body, including the nervous, immune, and digestive systems. That means that the CBD reaches receptors throughout your dog’s entire body, providing a variety of benefits. These effects include reducing both physical discomfort and skin irritation. 


When rubbed against the skin, CBD will target the receptors below the skin. This means that CBD’s benefits will be most potent in the area that the shampoo is applied. Your dog may feel instant relief when their discomfort is minimized, and their skin feels moisturized and healthy. 


CBD also helps your dog mentally. It encourages mental clarity by relieving negative thoughts and nervousness. When your dog feels calmer, it won’t be as likely to partake in destructive, neurotic behaviors. You’ll notice less itching and scratching when your dog feels relaxed. 


HolistaPet’s CBD shampoo for dogs also comes in refreshing scents like Mandarin Berry, making your dog smell as sweet as it looks!


Synergy Labs Medicated Dog Shampoo

This shampoo is fast-acting and beneficial with active ingredients like salicylic acid, colloidal oatmeal, and coal tar. The formula (pH-balanced specifically with dogs in mind) relieves itching and hydrates the skin. It’s a natural shampoo that has no dyes or other harsh chemicals. 


While this shampoo is great for dogs who can’t stop itching, some owners report that the scent can be quite strong. It’s also only able to be used on puppies over 12 weeks old. But if you don’t mind your dog smelling a little funky for a few days, Synergy Lab’s shampoo may help heal your dog’s skin and keep them from itching. 


Pro Pet Works Shampoo & Conditioner

Veterinarians recommend this shampoo because it helps dogs suffering from allergies like food, grass, and fleas. It contains a lot of vitamins and aloe extract to soothe irritated skin. 


It also contains no harsh chemicals, meaning it’s gentle on your dog. You won’t find any alcohol, sulfates, dyes, or fragrances. It’s also cruelty-free! Some owners have complained about the lack of lather and the “wet dog” smell it sometimes creates due to an absence of fragrance.



How Often Should You Bathe a Dog with Itchy Skin?

Dogs can be bathed once a month or every four weeks. If they become dirty or very uncomfortable, you can wash them every week. However, keep in mind that overbathing can dry out a dog’s skin even more, leading to more itching.


You should also check with your vet to see if frequent bathing will irritate your dog’s skin condition. Every dog has unique ailments and needs, and some shampoo ingredients might not be best for your particular dog’s skin.


When washing your dog, always look for formulas created for sensitive skin. Check for ingredients like oatmeal and aloe. These are very soothing and comforting for your dog’s skin. Also, avoid chemicals and other harsh ingredients that might irritate your dog or add to their discomfort.  


Related: How to Bathe a Dog: A Step-by-Step Guide for Responsible Owners



Should I Take My Dog to the Vet for Itchy Skin?

If your dog is frequently itching, biting, or chewing at their skin, it’s important to bring them to the vet. The itching could be caused by allergies, a skin condition, or even an underlying illness. The vet will determine the cause and find a solution that helps your dog stay healthy and happy. Sometimes vets will prescribe a medicated shampoo if your dog has more serious skin issues.



Final Thoughts – Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin

Sometimes itchy skin is just that —itchy skin! It’s normal for dogs to have a scratch here and there. But if you notice excessive itching, licking, and chewing, it’s probably time to take action! Itchy skin can be caused by allergies, pests, or even diseases. 


Always take your dog to the vet if you believe they are itching more than usual. Meanwhile, it doesn’t hurt to provide them some relief with a dog shampoo made specifically for itchy skin. They often contain special ingredients that soothe and rejuvenate the skin. Others contain CBD, which can help them relax and reduce discomfort!

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