What can I use to help my dog’s itching?

Our question this week was:

My dog (5-years-old) scratches herself all the time (leaving bad sores). Nothing works but cortisone cream (over the counter), which I don’t like to use too often. I’ve tried many lotions after the bath and between. We use cortisone shampoo from the vet and it still doesn’t help much.

Alicia Kowalska


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote that your 5-year-old dog is itching and you don’t know why. You say that you have been using topical cortisone cream that works but you don’t like to use it too often. You basically want to know why she is itching and what you can do to treat it.

Alicia – this is a common question and frustrating problem. The reason it is frustrating this that there are many causes for dogs to itch and the treatment depends on the underling cause. Sometimes – it can be skin parasites, a skin infection or allergies. Skin allergies in dogs can be difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat.

The treatment for the itching and scabs depends on the underlying cause. It often takes several tests and a bit of time to figure out the cause (again – which is a reason it is so frustrating). There is no quick, easy and 100% effective “fix”. I’d recommend that you talk to your vet about the possible underlying causes. You can discuss additional testing including allergy testing. I don’t know if you already did a “food” trial – but that is often a recommendation.

A couple articles that might be helpful to you are Atopy in Dogs, Allergy Testing in Dogsand Pruritus (Itchiness) in Dogs

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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