A few months ago my family rescued a year-old border collie named Calvin. He was cuddly, great with the kids, had a beautiful shiny coat and was seemingly very healthy. However, within days of adopting him, his belly turned bright red and he started scratching like mad and chewing at his paws.  This behavior drove us crazy!

As an emergency veterinarian, I wasn’t too alarmed. Itchy skin is a common health issue that I treat all the time. I knew just what to do to help Calvin heal and feel better.

The cornerstone of treating skin issues is BATHING with a medicated shampoo. I popped my itchy dog into the tub and reached for Splash PLUS, my favorite pet shampoo, developed by veterinary dermatologists to bring fast relief to pets with itchy, foul-smelling and infected skin without using antibiotics.  With medicated shampoos, it’s important to leave the lather on the skin for 5-10 minutes so the active ingredients can do their job.

Lucky for us, Calvin’s itching disappeared immediately and he’s a happy pup again with a healthy vibrant coat. I’ve been bathing him once a week with Splash Shampoo to keep his skin in tip-top shape. 

Unfortunately, many pet parents wait until their pet’s skin condition has worsened before coming to see me.  Generally, it’s because they’ve spent a lot of time trying to diagnose the problem themselves.  Here’s what I wish they knew ahead of time:

Switching a pet’s brand of dog food usually doesn’t stop the scratching.  In fact, food accounts for only 5%-15% of all pet skin allergies.  If your veterinarian thinks your dog might be suffering from a food allergy, she might suggest a food trial over the course of 6-8 weeks.

Changing anything that makes contact with a pet’s skin like fabric and soap detergents is rarely the cause of a dog’s itching as well.

So what does cause itchy skin? The most common culprit is allergens that float through the air, like dust, pollen and mold. And you can’t rule out fleas.  One bite is enough to start a cascade of inflammation, which causes a dog to scratch himself raw very quickly.

Skin mites, yeast infections and immune disorders also cause itching but they’re not as common.

In all cases of itching, inflammation is what causes the scratching to start.  Repeated scratching traumatizes the skin leading to hair loss and infection.

The lesson here?  If you have an itchy dog, don’t spend your valuable time trying to self-diagnose.  Instead, start him on a bathing regimen as soon as you see that he’s scratching more than usual.  If his itching persists beyond a few days, visit your vet for further testing and consultation.

That’s what we’re here for!