My German Shepherd often has skin irritations, I have adjusted her diet and tried grain free etc but she keeps getting scabs under her chest and around her armpits

Itchy skin is really just a symptom and can be the result of many underlying causes. In this case, we really need to find the cause of the itchy skin (causing scabs) so that we can treat your dog’s problem (not just the symptom). This will help us reach the best treatment plan too.

Some of the underlying causes of itchy skin might be:

  • Allergies– environmental pollens, food, fleas. We know that when humans have allergies to pollens etc they react by sneezing or getting watery eyes. In dogs, the common reaction to an allergen is that their skin gets itchy. Allergies causing itchy skin include food, fleas and environmental pollens- either breathed in or physically touched. Although you’ve touched on trying grain free food – it could be a protein or other carbohydrate that is the problem, so switching to grain-free won’t rule out food allergy unfortunately.
  • Mites– demodex or sarcoptes. Your local vet needs to do some simple tests to diagnose these, a few skin scrapes are performed (no anaesthetic needed) and then they look under the microscope, searching for the mites.
  • Direct irritant- such as a topical cream, weed, wash or insect bite.

Interesting that it’s mainly on her chest and arm pits- this is a common area for contact allergy sufferers, i.e where the irritant is touching him directly. Such as from weeds such as trad but can be many plants, or even what the floors/bedding are washed in. Scabs indicate the skin has become secondarily infected.

Read more from the blog on why your dog could be itchy (here), and how to manage itchy skin (here).

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Dr Claire

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