When your dog just can’t stop scratching, you know it’s time to go to the vet and figure out what’s wrong with her. I’ve had itchy dogs in the past. Cooper and Tasha were both allergic to fleas and super prone to hotspots.
So when Mocha started scratching day and night, I thought “uh oh, we’ve got fleas!” Unfortunately, I was right…and wrong. Yes, we had fleas due to the failure of a product that we really thought was superior, and it was a nightmare getting rid of them. Once they were completely gone, though, Mocha still continued scratching like crazy.
What I Learned From my Vet About Itchy Dogs
*As a Chewy Influencer, I received the Taste of the Wild Food mentioned below for free in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts I am very picky about what I feed my dogs and would never recommend something that I don’t use myself.
When Mocha’s scratching didn’t ease up after we dealt with the flea infestation, I knew it was time to take her to the vet. She’s part pit, and from all the pit parents I’ve met I know that they are prone to skin issues.
Years of editing on DogVills also taught me a lot about food sensitivities in dogs. I suspected that something in her diet was making her itchy, but I wasn’t sure what it could be. I also wasn’t sure exactly how to help her in the meantime, as our go-to medicine, diphenhydramine, wasn’t really giving her any relief. Here is what I learned during my visit to the vet.
1. Some dogs are just more prone to skin problems
Pit bulls are just more prone to skin conditions, and even though Mocha is only a small part pit (she’s also mixed with lab and greyhound), that’s enough to trigger the skin sensitivities. This means that I will always have to be diligent and pay close attention to her scratching. She’s already scratched open her skin once. She also had a lot of problems with her spay scar. It took weeks for us to get that to heal up properly, and now I suspect it was because of her scratching.
2. The best treatment may not be the one you think it is
Diphenhydramine is no longer the itchiness remedy of choice, at least for my vet. She told me that while it does work on some dogs, she’s found it ineffective for pups with major skin sensitivities. She recommended cetrizine.
We started her on it and the change was obvious within a few days. She MAY need to be on it year-round, but my vet told me to try taking her off of it in the late fall and see what happens. DO NOT give your dog any medications until you talk to your vet. She weighed Mocha and gave her a thorough exam before giving me the proper dosage.
If diphenhydramine isn’t working for your dog, though, definitely ask your vet about cetrizine. You can get it over the counter at any place that sells human medications.
3. Even the best food can be problematic
Even the best grain-free food can cause problems if it has the wrong protein source. For many itchy dogs, food is the culprit. Feeding Mocha a grain-free diet isn’t enough. Her vet recommended that I eliminate poultry entirely, especially chicken.
Turns out, finding dog food without chicken in it is more of a challenge than you might think. Even many fish recipes contain chicken somewhere in the ingredients.
I spend a lot more time reading down to the very last ingredient than I ever did before. Don’t get me wrong, I always read the labels, but now I feel like I’m playing a Where’s Waldo-esque game, except it’s “Where’s Chicken?” instead.
Since I have two dogs to feed, it’s vital for me to find something safe for Mocha that Freya also likes, and it can’t cost an arm and a leg. I would love to say that I spare no expense when it comes to feeding my dogs, but I have a budget to stick to. I simply can’t afford an $80 bag of food that won’t even last a week.
Taste of the Wild has always been one of our top choices in our rotating dog food menu, so I was really hoping I’d find a completely chicken-free food in their line. Good news: they do, in both dry and canned varieties!
I went with the canned food because we use it both as a kibble topper for their dinner and as a stand-alone meal when they’re snubbing their kibble. Fickle hounds, I tell you. After reading through all of the Taste of the Wild canned varieties, I asked for the Sierra Mountain Canine Formula.
There’s not a speck of chicken in it and lamb is something my dogs don’t get everyday in their kibble. Pacific Stream is another great chicken-free option if your dogs like fish. Mine do, but it’s in their kibble, so we wanted to go with something different.
Shopping from Chewy was, as always, a breeze. They have hands down the best customer service ever. We had a major issue with our local FedEx people not delivering our package on time. It was not Chewy’s fault in any way, but they still stepped right in to resolve it.
If you ever need to get in touch with them about an order or just have a question, someone is there to answer your call. They genuinely care about their customers’ happiness. I can’t recommend them enough.
As for Mocha’s itchiness, I feel like we have a good handle on it now. She still scratches more than I’d like her to from time to time, but she’s no longer getting rashes or scratching herself open. We will keep tweaking her diet until we find the perfect combination of foods that let her live an itch-free life. Taste of the Wild will definitely remain a part of that diet!
Do you have an itchy dog? What did your vet recommend? Share your tips below.