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Itchy Dog Skin

by Melissa
(Huntington, WV)

Our dog Bastardo is a Border Collie mix. His age is a rough estimate, we think he is around 12 or 13. The vet under estimated his age, we think, because he is showing more gray hair every year, aged teeth, and general physical appearances that are normally attributed to aging dogs.


Recently, Bastardo has been obsessively digging and chewing on himself. He nibbles and licks all over, his rear end, top of paws, belly, etc. We have bathed him and applied oil to his skin. We just purchased fish oil to mix in with his food because we thought he was suffering from dog dry skin due to the winter/heater.

Now, because we have been bathing him regularly we have noticed that his coat is very oily and dirty feeling. His coat always looks bad, like a dog going through shedding season. Also, much of the hair is sticking up where he would have been licking.

He does not have any sores or acne (I worked in a Vet clinic for four years and I have absolutely no medical skills, but I can identify sores, acne, visible parasites, and ringworm. This is just from seeing it so often.

But I do not assume to know anything about diagnosing an animal with anything. He does have a few dog skin lumps, but has had them since we took him in. The vet checks them regularly and they have been identified as cysts.

He was a wild dog. We have owned him for around eight years now. We are at our wits end trying to figure out what is causing the dog skin itching and poor coat. I am curious if the fish oil is a good thing to try and if bathing him with an anti bacterial shampoo would be beneficial, even if he does not need it. In other words are these things o.k. to try, we don't want to exacerbate the problem.

Thank you,
The Cendana Family and Bastardo

Itchy Dog Skin Dog Health Guide Editor Comment

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for your question about itchy dog skin and sorry to hear about Bastardo's canine skin condition.

Older dogs definitely require more care and attention. This problem is certainly related to the age of your dog. Older dogs tend to experience more health problems as the physiology (normal functioning) of the body is weakened.

In this particular case, along with the health condition your dog is experiencing, the history suggests that there are some minor problems with the management of your dog's condition as well.

Putting Fish oil in dog food and oily massage helps to improve skin health, but in this case, it seems that the condition was not properly diagnosed. Also, giving your dog repeated baths and then applying oils over the skin have disturbed the physiology of your dog's sebaceous glands.

With repeated baths, the skin becomes dry and in response the sebaceous glands secrete more oily content. Also, as you mentioned, your dog has a few lumps over the skin, which was diagnosed as dog cysts. Though we are not sure about the type of dog cysts, the most common type of skin cyst in dogs are related to the sebaceous glands. The excessive secretion of oily content in the latter stages of this condition shows that there may be a relationship with these dog cysts.

For the time being, it is recommended that you bathe your dog with a quality anti seborrheic and mild medicated shampoo such as Clinical Care Shampoo, which will help to not only reduce symptoms such as excessive oily skin, but will also help to reduce any chance that a secondary skin infection will take hold. The skin is surely prone to secondary infection in this condition.

Follow the shampoo manufacturer's instructions carefully, and avoid bathing your dog frequently. Also do not apply any other oily formulation to the skin and reduce the volume of fish oil in your dog's food.

To improve dog skin health and the integrity of the hair follicles, try a natural remedy such as Skin and Coat Tonic, which will help to improve skin health, enhance immunity and endocrine functioning.

As your dog is a senior now, Bastardo needs more attention. If possible, go for a detailed veterinary examination and blood work. The development of this condition suggests that your dog is having some type of endocrine (hormonal) disturbance, which can only be confirmed with detailed laboratory tests.

Remember, these tips are only for added support as your dog requires medical attention, for which you should consult a veterinarian.

Please keep us updated on this itchy dog skin and dog skin cyst condition.

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