German Shepherds, like most dog breeds, are prone to allergies and itch so much. However, when your GSD is itching, it needs immediate attention as the cause doesn’t always zero down to the breed’s tendency. There are a lot of other reasons and simple home remedies to address this issue.
Your German Shepherd might be itching so much due to these reasons – canine pyoderma, skin atopy, demodectic mange, simple fur cleaning need, food allergies, environmental cleanliness, and other genetic causes.
In this article, let’s look at the exact way to determine the cause and potential solutions to reduce the itching behavior of your German Shepherd.
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Why Does My German Shepherd Itch So Much?
Most German Shepherds that itch excessively can have a skin condition called dermatitis. While it influences the general immunity of the dog, types of dermatitis like mange, pyoderma, and atopy can also happen due to environmental conditions.
Some German Shepherds with poor breed lines are more prone to mange.
Watch This Video To Learn Why Your German Shepherd Itches…
“The only confirmed breed predisposition to ACD is in Danish German Shepherd dogs, which are affected three times more frequently than individuals from the local canine population.”Veterinary Clinics of North America
Other flea sources can include:
Likewise, you should also look at their environment. For instance, cleaning your dog’s bed, maintaining a neat atmosphere, and fumigating the surrounding region is vital.
Did you know that some GSDs have been lactose intolerant since their birth?
As they begin experiencing digestive issues, you can confirm the level of lactose intolerance. Further, if you aren’t diluting dairy products with water, it can disrupt their digestive system and turn into allergies at some point.
See also: Best Diet for German Shepherds? Nutrition, Types, And More!
“What surprises many pet owners is that grains are actually uncommon causes of food allergies – most pets are allergic to animal proteins!”Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
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How To Find Out The Exact Cause When Your GSD Itches Too Much
A GSD’s itching is usually due to environmental, food, or flea allergies, and in any case, it’s easier to identify the exact cause with a few signs.
How To Find If My GSD Has Dermatitis
When your German Shepherd is itching too much, it can often happen due to dermatitis. While it needs the vet’s intervention to confirm the type of skin condition, there are still signs and symptoms to confirm the presence of dermatitis.
What happens if your GSD isn’t treated immediately when they are itching too much? The skin condition can worsen and open the way for maggots to enter the body.
In aged dogs, this can lower the appetite and also impact every organ of the body over time.
How To Find If My GSD Has Environmental Allergies
Here are a few questions to ask yourself if your GSD is itching too much due to environmental reasons:
- Did you recently change your floor cleaner?
- Did another dog already use your GSD’s crate with a skin condition?
- Is there another dog with a skin condition next to your GSD?
- Are your dog’s food and water bowls clean and free from worms?
- Do you find red spots on the belly?
In these cases, your German Shepherd might have a problem with the environment and needs immediate cleaning.
How To Find If My GSD Has Food Allergies
For example, when you give your German Shepherd a portion of dry food, and he begins to vomit or stop eating the food next time, it’s a sign to watch out for.
Likewise, it’s critical to closely monitor the consistency of stool. When your German Shepherd passes watery stools, it can often be the case of a food allergy.
What if you couldn’t zero down the cause to only one of them? Well, there are chances for your German Shepherd to itch so much due to multiple causes too.
How to Treat An Itchy German Shepherd
When a German Shepherd itches more than usual, it reddens the spot, and most importantly, it can lower the appetite and movement over time.
The best way to treat an itchy German Shepherd is to identify the underlying cause and choose a suitable plan of action.
GSDs with dermatitis need medicines and medicated baths, while those with environmental allergens need regular cleaning to eliminate allergens. Contrarily, those with food allergies need a change in diet.
Watch How To Treat An Itchy German Shepherd And Stop Scratching…
Here are some treatment options for your German Shepherd to control the itchiness:
- Medications. Antihistamines or corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory) can be prescribed to block the allergic reaction and help relieve symptoms. Immunosuppressive agents are also an option, but they must be used wisely due to possible side effects. Antibiotics can also be given for secondary bacterial infection.
- Supplements. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil, have effectively treated skin allergies as they can improve the response to steroids and antihistamines. They are also good for your German Shepherd’s general skin and coat health. You can try chew treats such as Zesty Paws Omega Bites from Amazon or Pure Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil that you squirt on your dog’s food.
- Medicated shampoo or cream. These can help with severe itching and inflamed skin. Some therapeutic shampoos also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal agents to help your dog. Frequent bathing can help to remove allergens from the fur.
- Holistic medicines or natural treatments. Some dog owners opt for alternative therapies such as essential oils like chamomile or aloe vera. Always consult a vet familiar with their use if you wish to try these.
- Immunotherapy (also known as hyposensitization). A series of weekly injections (allergy shots) is given to your German Shepherd to introduce the allergen to desensitize him to it, for example, pollen. Success rates vary, but approximately 50% of treated dogs with allergies will see significant improvements.
- Hypoallergenic diet. This contains a novel protein, such as kangaroo, duck, or venison. You will need to change your German Shepherd’s diet to a protein never eaten before. It can also consist of a hydrolyzed (chemically split) protein, which requires your vet’s authorization. Feeding new foods will prevent a continuation of the over-response.
Even though German Shepherds are susceptible to allergies, here are some prevention tips. Some of these tips can also be used if your dog already has his diagnosis to help to relieve his symptoms:
- Flea prevention treatment. Make sure your dog’s flea treatment is up to date. My German Shepherd’s treatment is every three months, but consult your vet about what’s right for your dog.
- Regularly vacuum carpets. To help prevent fleas and dust mites, vacuum carpets daily.
- Wash your dog’s bedding. You should do this at least weekly with hypoallergenic, non-toxic detergents.
- Regularly grooming. German Shepherds have two coats and require a lot of grooming as they shed all year round and even more when they “blow their coat” twice a year. For ease, I use the FURminator de-shedding tool from Amazon, which does a great job as it gets right through to the undercoat and safely removes loose hair. Check out my article on how to reduce GSD shedding for some cool tips!
- Avoid pollen. Walk your German Shepherd before dawn and late afternoon to early evening, as this is when pollen is at its lowest. Wipe his paws and body after his walk to help remove pollen and other allergens.
- Feed a nutritious, high-quality diet. Some of the preservatives and additives in commercial dog food may also cause allergies or intolerance. To prevent this, always make sure you feed your German Shepherd high-quality food. This is super important for your dog’s overall health and longevity. Opt for the most expensive you can afford.
- Feed dog food with only one or two protein sources. This can help give you more choices later on, should your German Shepherd develop an allergy.
- Use an air purifier. Air purifiers help create a cleaner, healthier environment by capturing tiny particles such as dust, pollen, and mold spores. I use a Dyson (check the price on Amazon) to help with my pollen asthma, as it’s scientifically proven to capture allergens and bacteria. It’s also multi-functional, being a heater and fan in one. The latest model also comes with wi-fi enabled.
- Use a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers take moisture out of the air in your home. Drying out the air keeps allergy triggers to a minimum, subsequently relieving symptoms. For example, dust mites need a substantially high humidity level of 65% to survive.
Why Is My Dog Itchy But Has No Fleas?
When a dog keeps itching but has no fleas in the body, there’s a probability of a fungal or bacterial infection. In other instances, environmental and food allergies can also provoke a dog to itch regularly.
If you’re sure that the environment is clean and free from allergens, and your dog doesn’t have food allergies, then it’s time to take the dog to a vet to confirm the type of bacterial or fungal infection. Sometimes, a medicated bath does the job.
Is It Normal For German Shepherds To Scratch A Lot?
Most dog breeds, including German Shepherds, scratch with an aim to perform a self-cleaning of the body and ears. While it happens only occasionally, the increase in frequency is a red flag, and there’s an associated skin condition.
If your German Shepherd is prone to direct heat or extreme cold, he may scratch quite frequently, and this is only a reaction to the environmental allergen (temporary).
Why Does My German Shepherd Itch A Lot and Lose Hair?
When a German Shepherd itches a lot and loses hair, it’s a clear sign of canine atopic dermatitis, and it’s a form of environmental allergy. You can see bald patches on various parts of the body. Vets might recommend medicines along with medicated baths and changes in diet.
Are German Shepherds Prone To Allergies?
German Shepherds are prone to allergies. They are a high-risk breed predisposed to skin allergy known as canine atopic dermatitis (CAD). The most common allergies are caused by fleas, food, environmental triggers (such as pollen, dust mites, or mold), or contact with other irritants.
I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have a German Shepherd itch so much all of a sudden. The situation worsens when you have multiple dogs at home. However, they are common and usually not serious, so don’t worry.
Although the German Shepherd breed is predisposed to different forms of allergies, they can still live a long, healthy, and happy life with the right treatment to control the symptoms.