Why Is My German Shepherd So Itchy? – 6 Potential Reasons For Problem Itching



When you begin to wonder “Why Is My German Shepherd So Itchy”, consider that it is normal for your German Shepherd to itch every now and then, just like you do.

It’s when the itching becomes a regular thing, or when the itching becomes so bad that your German Shepherd begins to harm itself while scratching or trying to relieve the itch, that you might become concerned.

Bleeding, hair loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections can all be caused by dogs itching and scratching themselves.

Let’s find out more about itching in dogs, and what might cause it!


(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)


Why Is My German Shepherd So Itchy? – 6 Potential Reasons For Problem Itching


First Off, What Are The Signs Of Problem Itching?

Before you ask yourself why your German Shepherd is itching, ask yourself how serious it might be.

Is your GSD constantly doing any of the following (in combination, or just one or two) to itself in order to get some relief?

  • Licking
  • Scratching
  • Chewing
  • Biting
  • Rubbing themselves against a surface

Are there signs of damage to your dog as a result of their itching such as hair loss, bleeding, inflammation etc?

If you answered yes, it might be a strong sign you need to get a vet to check out what might be causing the itching so it can be treated and managed.


6 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Might Be Itchy

PetMD says there is 6 reasons why your German Shepherd may itch due to skin problems.

These reasons are:


      1) Environmental Dermatitis

This is caused by factors in your German Shepherds environment.

A common irritant in your GSD’s environment is lawn grass. Other irritants can be plants like thistles, plastics and household chemicals like washing powder for example.

When moisture causes lesions on your German Shepherds skin, this is referred to as Moist Eczema or a ‘Hot Spot’.

Moist Eczema is caused by rain, pond or lake water, or really any water that stays on the skin surface long enough to allow bacteria to cause an infection.

Long haired German Shepherds are probably more susceptible to Hot Spots.


How You Might Manage Environmental Dermatitis

Your German Shepherd’s vet can determine what to do once they identify the cause of the environmental dermatitis.


      2) Nutritional Dermatitis

Common itchy skin irritations caused by diet involve inexpensive corn based diets and those low in animal origin tissues, that are high in grain based products.


How You Might Manage Nutritional Dermatitis

If you are in any confusion as to what to feed your German Shepherd, you should always go to your vet first to get their diet approved.

As a general rule, you might feed your GSD high quality, meat-based food. This type of food rarely causes skin and coat irritation in most dogs.

Real meat might be really important to your German Shepherd.

Although the right diet can help your German Shepherd avoid most skin problems, sometimes supplements such as Omega 3 Fatty Acids can also help.


      3) Parasitic Dermatitis

We are talking about fleas, ticks and mites.

Fleas is a topic in itself, but generally, your German Shepherd will contract fleas from its environment or another animal.

The flea’s bite will cause itching, and for sensitive German Shepherds, the flea saliva will also cause itching.

Ticks generally might not cause much itching, but can leave ulcer like wounds.

Chiggers, deer flies and gnats and might not create many skin problems either, and can be treated with over the counter ointments.

Mites consist of Demodex (Mange) and Scabies.


How You Might Manage Parasitic Dermatitis

Fleas dislike the light, so it’s best to search for fleas on your dog in the furrier areas of their body where there’s less exposed skin. They are about the size of a pinhead and can be seen running across the surface of the skin.

If you can’t see the fleas, look for flea dirt. Flea dirt is little black specs on the skin surface (faeces and blood).

Wipe the skin with a wet paper towel. Small blood stains on the paper towel will confirm it is infact flea dirt.

To read more about fleas and German Shepherds, you might like to check out this flea guide.


      4) Allergic Dermatitis

In short, it is very difficult to diagnose Allergic Dermatitis.

Food ingredients, synthetic and natural fibers, medications and pharmaceutical products, plant material, insect bites, dust and even bacteria all can trigger an Allergic Dermatitis.

Allergies depend on the biochemistry of your German Shepherd.


How You Might Manage Allergic Dermatitis

In the first instance, you might try to work out your German Shepherd’s allergy and prevent it in the future as there is no cure to an allergy apart from prevention.

Otherwise, your vet can diagnose and treat severe allergic dermatitis via skin and blood tests, and usually medical baths, ointments, sprays, oral antihistamines.


      5) Neurogenic Dermatitis

Caused by irregular and obsessive licking and chewing of the skin, to the point that a lick granuloma is formed.


How You Might Manage Neurogenic Dermatitis

See your vet for diagnosis and treatment, although it’s suspected to be caused by boredom, separation anxiety, frustration, confinement or even tiny scratches.


      6) Infectious Dermatitis

We are talking about bacterial, fungal and yeast organisms/diseases that cause coat and skin problems.

A common fungal infection is ringworm, which causes hair loss, and can be treated by your vet.

Yeast diseases and infections stress the skin with the waste products of the yeast organisms, and this causes inflammation, itching and scratching. 

Bacterial infections usually only occur when the skin has suffered from other problems such as environmental dermatitis caused by moisture. Or other environmental factors


How You Might Manage Infectious Dermatitis

The best treatment for infectious dermatitis is clipping the hair to allow air on the skin to dry it, application of topical medication and oral antibiotics to fight the infection.

See your vet for the best treatment for your German Shepherd’s situation.


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