My four year old Maltese Shitzu scratches and chews himself wherever he can reach, after he has a hair cut, his coat is very short now. He has no fleas or any obvious irritations. What is the problem?

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.

Read more from our blog on why dogs are itchy (here), and how to manage it (here).

A cool bath to remove any allergens and wash in soothing dog oatmeal shampoo would be helpful, and well as a dog leave on conditioner. But, if the itch is escalating he may need some medication to help.

If you’d like to chat in person, you can get a vet on a live video call or start a chat to discuss in more detail now.

We’re here to help!

Chat soon,

Dr Claire