What to Look for in a Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin
Your dog’s itchy skin can be extremely uncomfortable for both of you, especially when you’re worried about what it might mean for your dog. Thankfully, shampoos for itchy skin can help relieve at least some of the discomfort associated with your dog’s itching. Here, we’ll take a look at the best ingredients you can choose, what might be causing your dog’s itchy skin, and how shampoos may be able to help.
What Causes Your Dog’s Itchy Skin?
Several things may be causing your dog’s itchy skin. Itchy skin can be caused by dry skin, dandruff, and a variety of other problems, but most of those issues are symptoms. The root causes of these symptoms can be more difficult to identify and treat.
A small list of things that may be affecting your dog’s skin are:
- Fleas. Bites from parasites like fleas and ticks can cause your dog’s skin to become irritated and dry, causing dandruff and reactions. Some dogs can be allergic to flea and tick saliva, which can cause itchy problems.
- Food. Allergies to certain foods can also cause issues with your dog’s skin and coat. Most dog owners tend to think that there is a topical reason for their dog’s itchy skin, but that isn’t always the case. If you’re recently changed foods (or if your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t), it might be a food allergy that’s causing the itchy skin.
- Soaps. Soaps can also cause issues, so make sure you keep track of which shampoos and products you’ve used on your dogs. If you’ve tried different soaps with certain ingredients, keep track of how your dog has reacted to them.
- Allergens. Seasonal allergies can cause your dog to get itchy, especially when pollen or mold is high. If your dog is allergic to these things, it can lead to increased dandruff, dry skin, and irritation.
- Environmental Factors. If you haven’t changed anything in your dog’s diet or shampoo, environmental factors may be to blame. If the weather has suddenly gotten cold and dry, it can prompt your dog’s skin to dry out. Turning on the heater in the winter can dry out the air in your home, causing your dog’s skin to get itchy. Factors like these can make a difference, as well.
- Skin Infections. Itching can also be a symptom of bacterial infections, yeast infections, mange, and dermatitis. Your vet will be able to diagnose these conditions and advise which types of shampoos and topical treatments to use on these different problems.
There are other causes for your dog’s itchy skin, but these are just a few that may help you narrow down why your dog is itching so badly. Keep in mind that a vet’s recommendation or diagnosis is the only way to know for sure what is causing your dog’s itchy skin. However, these are some of the things you can identify and recognize on your own.
What Helps with Itchy Skin?
Of course, you want to help your dog avoid the discomfort associated with itchy skin. There are a few topical ingredients that can help your dog find relief from itchy skin, even if you don’t know what the specific cause of the irritation is. Keep a lookout for the following helpful ingredients.
- Shea butter
- Aloe vera
- Argon oil
These are just a few of the ingredients that might help relieve your dog’s itchy skin. Every one of these ingredients works to moisturize and soothe dry skin that is prone to dandruff, irritation, and more. If your dog frequently has allergic reactions, chamomile and oatmeal products can help soothe those reactions and make them manageable.
Ingredients to Avoid
While there are a lot of good ingredients to be found in anti-itch dog shampoos, there are equally as many that aren’t great for you or your dog. Avoid the following ingredients.
- Sulfates. Sulfates help give shampoos their lather, but they can be harmful. While they don’t cause immediate harm, using shampoos with sulfates can strip the natural oils out of your dog’s skin and coat fairly easily. This isn’t ideal, as it can lead to their skin drying out and their fur becoming stiff and brittle.
- Parabens. Parabens are a special kind of preservative that dog shampoos sometimes use to prevent bacteria from forming within the shampoo bottle. However, parabens lend nothing to the shampoo itself outside of this prevention. Further, parabens can penetrate the skin barrier and affect your dog’s endocrine system, potentially causing cancer or reproductive issues.
- Synthetic soaps. Soaps are what keep your dog clean, right? That isn’t always the case. While there are some very good natural based soaps on the market for dogs, most soaps are formulated with harsh base ingredients. These soaps can be very drying and can irritate dogs with sensitive skin, leading to itching, irritation, and dryness. If you know your dog is sensitive, steer clear of shampoos that contain soaps and opt for natural cleansers instead.
- Preservatives. Even preservatives that aren’t parabens aren’t great for your dog. Popular preservative chemicals are one of the leading causes of allergic reactions in dogs, from hives to rashes. Make sure you read up on preservatives and choose ones that won’t harm your dog, if possible.
- Alcohols. Alcohols are also likely to irritate your dog’s skin, including drying out their fur and patches that may already be damaged. Shampoos with alcohol may cause your dog’s itching to increase, which is less than ideal if you’re trying to bring them relief.
Read labels and try to stay ahead of the harmful ingredients you don’t want around your dog. For anti-itch shampoos especially, avoid these ingredients whenever possible.
Veterinary Diagnosis Recommended
While there are some conditions that you can diagnose on your own based on context clues (as well as what you’ve recently changed in your dog’s diet or routine), you don’t know what might be going on beneath the surface. We always recommend getting a veterinarian’s diagnosis if you think there might be something wrong. You can take the opportunity to discuss with them new skincare products or treatments, especially medicated products.
This way, you can avoid further irritation. You’ll also avoid wasting money on treatments that aren’t going to work for your dog’s specific problems. For yeast infections, bacterial infections, and certain severe cases of dermatitis, getting the right treatment is necessary to avoid making the problem worse. Before making a dog shampoo purchase, make sure you understand the underlying cause of your pet’s itchy skin.
After taking all of our previous concerns into consideration, there are still a few things to look at. Here are the last few things you should take into account before purchasing a dog shampoo for itchy skin.
How much of the product are you getting? Before purchasing a shampoo, weigh the price against how big the bottle is. Consider how often you’ll need to repurchase the shampoo when you buy smaller amounts. Choosing the largest bottle at the lowest price is the most cost-effective way to purchase dog shampoos.
Keep in mind that not all shampoos will work for your dog, so if you are trying out a shampoo for the first time and you aren’t sure about it, purchase the smallest available size just to be sure.
What the shampoo smells like is important when considering the ingredients, but it is also important in other ways. Make sure that you choose a scent that you and your dog will be able to stand using. If you choose a fragrance that ends up making your head hurt or making your dog uncomfortable, you’re going to regret it. Many shampoo scents will linger long after the bath, so take this into serious consideration.
The active ingredients in a shampoo help it achieve the properties that it boasts. An anti-itch shampoo should have active ingredients that match up to the important ingredients discussed above. Oatmeal, aloe, lavender, and tea tree oil are all very moisturizing ingredients and should show up first on the label of many anti-itch shampoos. Keep this in mind when you’re reading the ingredients label.
Make sure that you’re purchasing a shampoo that will treat the specific problem that your dog is having. For example, it would be unwise to purchase a shampoo with anti-fungal properties if your dog doesn’t have a fungal infection. Exposing your dog to chemicals that aren’t useful for the problem that they are having may lead to more problems, so pay attention to the conditions that the shampoo says it treats.
If you have more than one pet (of more than one species), choosing a shampoo that works for multiple species may be important to you. Why spend money on a shampoo that will only clean one of your pets, when others work fine on all of them? Some dog shampoos may also work well on cats, horses, guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits, and more. Check the label to make sure that the shampoo is safe for your pet.