Tips for grooming dogs with itchy skin
Just like humans, dogs can suffer with various different skin issues. From dry skin to parasites and bacterial infections, us groomers see it all and must prepare for each situation. This article will be doing a deep dive into the three most common causes of itchy skin and how we can help manage it as groomers and pet owners.
Different ectoparasites (parasites that live on the coat and skin) such as fleas and mites are a very common cause of itchiness in dogs. Bites and faeces left behind by these parasites will cause skin irritation which will in turn make the dog itch, which will then make the skin more inflamed as it is scratched and sore - and then this becomes a vicious circle of more itching and more sore skin. The main parasite prevention starts at home with vet prescribed treatments, herbal supplements, and a good cleaning routine.
If a dog comes to the salon carrying fleas or mites, the easiest solution to remove them is simply a good bath. Any shampoo will kill off parasites when left on long enough, as they will suffocate under the shampoo. You may also want to use specific flea shampoo such as, which contains natural flea repellents and soothing ingredients to help calm down itchy skin. When applying the shampoo, it’s best to start from the neck and work your way back and down. This way the parasites don’t get a chance to climb up the dog and hide under and inside ears.
2. Seasonal allergies and dietary sensitivities
Many dogs are allergic or sensitive to very common dietary items, such as grains or chicken. They can also be allergic to different pollens and grasses, which they will encounter every day on their walks. While allergies aren’t something groomers can address, we can help by using sensitive shampoos that soothe their skin and bring temporary comfort during flare ups. Great shampoo options include Groom Professional Aloe Wonder and iGroom Hypoallergenic.
On top of pollens and foods, dogs can also react to many household products such as detergents and floor cleaners. Many perfectly human safe essential oils and chemicals can cause serious reactions in your dog, so it is always a good idea to read ingredient lists and cross reference them to lists of toxic ingredients. Even grit on roads is bad for dogs due to the anti-freeze in the mix!
3. Medical conditions
While groomers aren’t trained to diagnose medical conditions, we develop an eye for any changes in a dog’s skin and coat. If you see something unusual on a dog you are grooming, inform the owner of your findings and advise them to speak with their vet. Some of the most common skin conditions we will encounter include hot spots, ring worm, manage and various bacterial infections. If the condition is contagious, always reschedule the groom to another time to avoid contaminating your salon and risking passing the condition to other dogs (or even yourself). If the dog is still safe to groom, the owner may have a medicated shampoo from the vet. Always check the bottle to make sure it is a shampoo, as many are simply medicated treatments and won’t clean the dog. If this is the case, you will still need to shampoo the dog as usual after applying the prescribed shampoo.
Giving an itchy dog a haircut can be a challenge, as the vibration of the clippers can make the dog scratch themselves and move around the table. Slow down, pay extra attention to the dog’s movements and avoid any sore patches on the skin as you work. You may also want to use a soft pinned slicker brush (such as) to prep the coat if the coat texture allows it, as it will be gentler on the skin. It may also be best to skip the pawfume at the end of the groom to avoid any further skin irritation!