There’s nothing as heartbreaking as seeing your German Shepherd scratch desperately due to an uncontrolled itch. While I’m certain none of us will let our dog’s itch reach that state, itching is a common condition in dogs, and for different reasons. All in all, the most important part is knowing how to treat German Shepherd itching to relieve the discomfort.
You can treat German Shepherd itching by regularly bathing your dog with medicated dog shampoo. For long-term treatment, determine the cause of the itch and, depending on the cause, feed your dog a hypoallergenic diet, avoid allergy-causing home detergents, or seek vet treatment for severe itch.
Because itching in German Shepherds can have different causes, knowing the reason for the itch is the first step in administering the right treatment. So, let’s start right there; finding out what’s causing your German Shepherd to itch.
How To Treat German Shepherd Itching
1. Determine Why Your German Shepherd is Itching
Itching in German Shepherds can be caused by several reasons. While it is easy to pick out some, like the presence of fleas or ticks on your dog’s coat, others can be hard to decode and will require the knowledge and experience of a vet.
The most common reasons your German Shepherd will be itching include the following:
- External parasites: These are blood-sucking insects or pests that live on your dog’s skin. External parasites are very irritating and often cause skin problems, including itching. Common external parasites that affect GSDs include ticks, fleas, and mites.
- Food allergies: GSDs have a breed-related predisposition to food allergies and intolerances. These allergies cause your dog to itch because they have symptoms that mimic pruritic skin problems.
German Shepherds can be allergic to a wide range of food, including chicken, beef, eggs, soy, wheat gluten, and dairy products.
- Environmental allergy: This can refer to any allergic reactions in your German Shepherd caused by substances in the environment. Common causes include seasonal pollen, mold, cleansers and detergents, fragrance sprays, cold, and dry air.
However, environmental allergy also refers to a skin condition known as Canin Atopic Dermatitis (CAD). In both cases, your German Shepherd will present an itch symptom.
- Skin conditions: Apart from CAD, there are other pruritic skin conditions that will make your German Shepherd itch. These include yeast dermatitis, hot spots, and flea allergy dermatitis, among others. You can read my article, Treating German Shepherd Skin Problems, for a complete account.
- Medicine allergies: Like humans, dogs can show pruritic allergic reactions to medical compounds. You should desist from giving your GSD over-the-counter meds without prior vet consultation.
- Dry skin: This can be caused by dry air or wrong humidity levels in the home, both in the cold and dry seasons. Your dog may experience itching and flaking on the skin due to dry air.
You can easily tell if your German Shepherd has external parasites by examining their coat and skin. However, it is harder to diagnose food allergies with the naked eye. As such, I recommend visiting the vet to determine the actual cause of your German Shepherd’s itching.
Depending on the outcome, you will proceed with one or more of the following remedies for German Shepherd itching.
2. Bathe Your GSD with an Itch-relief Dog Shampoo
Bathing your German Shepherd with a medicated shampoo will provide relief for the itch regardless of the cause.
Itch-relief dog shampoos work by removing the allergens from your GSD’s skin. Additionally, they hydrate dry skin, another of the signs of skin problems in dogs.
Both effects will help ease the pruritic feeling. However, you need to use them at least twice a week at the beginning of the anti-itch therapy and once weekly after that as a preventative measure.
Many anti-itch medicated dog shampoos are vet-formulated and made from natural ingredients such as aloe vera, oatmeal, and tea tree.
Consider as an option the TropiClean Medicated Dog Shampoo, which is one of my favorites. This anti-allergy and anti-itch shampoo has natural tea tree, oatmeal, aloe vera, and coconut oil. All these ingredients are commonly used to provide relief and soothe sensitive dog skin. Besides, the shampoo is also soap and paraben-free.
You can peruse the reviews of customers who have used an anti-itch medicated dog shampoo to judge its efficiency and safety. Nevertheless, consulting your vet before using the shampoo precedes all other options.
3. Feed a Hypoallergenic Prescription Diet
If your German Shepherd’s vet determines your dog’s itch is from a food allergy, they will propose a hypoallergenic diet.
Veterinarians formulate the best hypoallergenic dog diets after extensive research and studies. The idea is to replace problematic food ingredients in regular dog foods and replace them with others that are safer and easier to digest.
Because you will find a range of dog foods labeled hypoallergenic, you should trust your vet’s connection with other vet practitioners to know which brand is best for your German Shepherd.
Also, your vet will prescribe hypoallergenic dog food from one of the brands with a history of customer credibility. In fact, some of these brands will only sell you hypoallergenic dog foods with a vet prescription.
A good example is the Royal Canin HP Hypoallergenic Dog Food from Amazon. You need to provide your vet’s info to purchase the product. After that, the online market will only sell you the dog food once it has confirmed its prescription by a vet.
4. Avoid Allergy-causing Sprays and Detergents
Many household detergents and cleaning products can be toxic or bear allergens harmful to your dog. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 8.3% of household cleaning products and paints are toxic for pets.
These products contain ingredients like ammonia, chlorine, phenol, formaldehyde, and isopropyl alcohol. The product can be dangerous if your German Shepherd inhales, licks, or ingests them. Besides, they can cause your dog skin problems, including:
- Irritation and itching.
- Redness and rash.
- Skin blisters or sores.
- Chemical burns.
Room sprays with synthetic fragrances and volatile organic compounds (VOC) can also cause skin allergies and itching in your dog.
If you notice that your German Shepherd has allergic reactions to home cleaning products, opt for safer options. Alternatively, keep your dog away from the house when using these detergents until their effect has faded off.
5. Consider Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have been shown to have a positive impact on skin allergies in dogs. This is due to their ability to improve the response to steroids and antihistamines, which are commonly used to treat allergies.
In addition to treating skin allergies, Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are also beneficial for your German Shepherd’s overall skin and coat health.
There are a variety of Omega-3 supplements available for dogs, including chew treats and oils. Chew treats, such as Zesty Paws Omega Bites, are a convenient and tasty option for dogs who enjoy treats. These anti-itch supplements are formulated with Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, as well as other beneficial ingredients like Astragalus Root to help maintain normal histamine levels.
Another option for Omega-3 supplementation is Zesty Paws Alaskan Salmon Oil. This oil can be easily added to your dog’s food, making it a simple and effective way to ensure your dog is getting the Omega-3s they need.
6. Maintain the Right Humidity Levels in the Home
Our German Shepherds are sensitive to weather conditions, just like us. So, when humidity levels in the home are not right, your dog may suffer from dry and flaked skin, which comes with an itch sensation.
When using air conditioning in summer, including a humidifier will help maintain the recommended moisture levels in your home. Humidity levels below 60% (30%-50%) are the ideal.
In cold weather, avoid exposing your German Shepherd to moving cold air, as this will dry and flake your dog’s skin. Open door or window spots are especially notorious for dry and cold air.
7. Get your German Sheperd Treated by a Vet
If I left vet treatment for German Shepherd itching for last, it is not because it is the least important. On the contrary, any remedies for GSD itching, including the simple ones like shampooing, should be confirmed safe first by your dog’s vet.
That said, dog itching that is severe or does not seem to subside with the remedies discussed above should see you and your German Shepherd head straight to the vet.
Your vet will determine the root cause of the itching and propose one of the following solutions:
- Medicated prescription shampoos and skin oils.
- An allergy shot/vaccine in case of seasonal allergies.
- Anti-inflammatory corticosteroids (injections or drugs) for environmental allergy.
- Antihistamines for food allergies.
- Antibiotics, in case of pruritic bacterial skin conditions.
- Essential fatty acids as a supplemental long-term solution.
What Home Remedy can I Give my German Shepherd for Itching?
Regularly bathing your German Shepherd with a vet-prescribed, medicated anti-itch shampoo is the most reliable home remedy for German Shepherd itching. Applying coconut oil will also give a soothing effect, especially if the itch is localized. Although you will find many other remedy suggestions, like apple cider vinegar and oatmeal paste, you should only use them if your dog’s vet says they are safe and effective.
Why do German Shepherds Itch a Lot?
German Shepherds are genetically prone to atopy, or the tendency to produce an abnormal immunological response when exposed to environmental itch triggers. Additionally, GSDs are predisposed to food allergies and other skin conditions that cause a pruritic reaction, like Canine Atopy Dermatitis (CAD).
If your German Shepherd has symptoms of itching, it is normal to wonder how to treat German Shepherd itching.
Determine first the cause of the itching. If the itch is mild, proceed with frequent baths with a medicated shampoo.
Uncontrollable itching may mean the presence of serious underlying causes that require the attention of a vet. Call your vet and schedule a visit ASAP.