If your dog is constantly scratching and nibbling at himself, he may have dermatitis. Dermatitis is a broad term that refers to inflammatory itching of the skin. It can be chronic or temporary. Dermatitis can be caused by the dog's environment (such as a sensitivity to grass), allergies (such as being allergic to fleas), a bacteria or virus, or poor nutrition. Depending on the cause of your dog's dermatitis, the treatment may be simple or involve a regimen of medications. Still, there are some steps you can take to soothe your dog's skin.
Determine the cause of the scratching. To do this, you will need to watch your dog carefully. Write down where he spends his time, what he comes in contact with outside and what he eats. If you can see fleas on your dog's skin, chances are your dog is allergic to fleas. A flea allergy is the most common cause of dermatitis in dogs. To treat this, you will need to take your dog to the vet. He will give your dog a shot for the itching and send you home with some flea medication. In addition, your dog may need to take antibiotics if the scratching has caused an infection. Be sure to rid your home of fleas as well.
Keep your dog away from common skin irritants. If your dog is still scratching after you have treated him for fleas, it could be something in the yard that is causing his skin to become inflamed. Check for poison oak and nettles. Pay attention to when he seems to be suffering the most. Is it after you mowed the lawn and he rolled in it? Keeping your dog away from these things will cure the dermatitis fairly quickly. In addition, be sure to remove them from your yard as soon as possible.
Change your dog's food. Some dermatitis is caused by poor nutrition. Make sure you are purchasing food that has a high amount of natural ingredients. Check the list of ingredients to find out. Ask your vet to recommend a high quality food for your particular breed of dog.
Bathe your dog. Add a soothing ingredient to the water, such as oatmeal. Anything that will feel good on your skin will feel good on hers. A bath and brushing will soothe your dog's skin and will remove common irritants such as fleas and dirt. In fact, if your dog has an allergy to pollen, a bath is a good way to cure the dermatitis. Just be sure to bathe your dog frequently, especially after she goes outside.
Check for a virus. If none of the above methods cure your dog's dermatitis, he might have a virus or bacterial infection. Such infections usually cause a fever and poor appetite in your dog, so they are fairly easy to diagnose. Depending on the virus, your veterinarian will prescribe a specific course of treatment to cure your dog's dermatitis.
Watch your dog carefully and try to keep him from scratching raw areas of the skin. Applying ice will numb the area and provide temporary relief.
Flea medication, killer and weed killer should be kept away from children.