To bathe or not to bathe, that is the question!
If your dog has itchy skin, you may be concerned that water from a bath and shampoo, which can contain irritating detergents, will make itching worse. Sometimes this is a legitimate concern; frequent bathing with the wrong kind of products can lead to dry skin, cause allergic reactions or irritate already itchy, irritated skin that can be caused by a variety of conditions including parasites, allergies, and medical conditions.
The first step, if your dog is suffering from itchy skin, is to determine what is causing itchy skin. You may need veterinary advice to resolve the condition, or you may need to address parasites present. Once the cause has been addressed, or if your dog is just experiencing run of the mill dry, itchy skin, giving your dog a bath with the right products can relieve rather than irritate itchy skin. Some products are available commercially and some can be made with household products that are readily available. Giving your itchy dog a bath can actually relieve rather than contribute to itchy skin, providing the right shampoo is used, as a bath removes dander, bacteria, yeasts and other debris that may be contributing to itchy skin on your dog.
Be sure to address any medical conditions, infections or parasites your dog may be suffering from to resolve the issue first. Dogs can also suffer from allergies, just like us, and identifying and removing substances in your dog's environment that may be contributing to itchy skin or adjusting your dog's diet may also be required to provide relief.
Be gentle when applying shampoos, conditioners and drying, so as not to further irritate already inflamed skin. Do not leave your dog wet, as bacteria and yeast love a wet dog and will make your dog more itchy if they proliferate. Be careful drying your dog to avoid heat, which will make itching worse.
It can be a delicate balancing act getting it just right, but well worth it in the end when you see your furry friend comfortable and itch-free.