Help me help my poor itchy dog

Here’s the deal…

I have a golden retriever. Goldens tend to have sensitive skin issues. For the most part, my dog is itch-free and does ok. Sometimes after I mow the lawn or on particularly heavy pollen days, she gets more itchy than usual. For the most part, she is as itchy as any other dog.

Except after I give her a bath.

This is a new problem, in the past year or so (she’s 5). I bathe her indoors with warm to cool water. It’s good water - not well water or hard water. I’ve used three different kinds of doggy shampoo (for sensitive skin, with moisturizer, with oatmeal, etc) and have also tried Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. I pat her dry with a clean towel and let her “air dry” outdoors.

What happens is once she is dry, about 4-5 hours after her bath, she gets uncontrollably itchy. Like, chews on herself until she bleeds (sometimes) itchy. Wakes her up out of a sound sleep itchy. Exhausted itchy.

The first time this happened, I freaked out and called the emergency vet, who told me I could give her 50mg of Benadryl. I also re-washed her using the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo thinking maybe whatever shampoo I’d used was causing some sort of allergic reaction. The Benadryl helped her sleep but it was at least a day until her itchies went away.

After this, I switched shampoos. I washed her a month later or so. Same results.

Then, I got some Skin-So-Soft from Avon. After her bath, I spray it on liberally. Now, she still gets itchy but the itchiness seems to go away within maybe 12 hours instead of 24. I also give her Benadryl after a bath so she can sleep. The Skin-So-Soft seems to be pretty powerful stuff - any time she gets wet, even if it’s a month after a bath, I can smell it.

I mentioned this to my vet in passing the last time we were there. She was intrigued but didn’t have any quick answers. Unfortunately, my vet knows I’m a sucker and will buy anything she sells, so I am hesitant to buy a bunch of $20 bottles of shampoo to try.

I just gave her a bath last night and we’re back to the same routine. Poor thing has been itching herself crazy since last night (about 18 hours now). I know it will subside but I absolutely hate having to watch her go through this.

I can’t not wash her - she’ll eventually get itchy from being dirty, too.

Before I take this issue to the vet again, does anyone have any recommendations for what I could use? Since this has started happening I have had a million recommendations but it seems no matter what “sensitive skin” products I use, it doesn’t work. And no one I’ve talked to has this specific problem - itchy skin right after a bath. Other people have generally itchy/dirty dogs, or dogs with allergies, but my problem just seems too specific.

My poor baby…someone please help!

Im SHOCKED that your vet hasn’t taken any bloodwork from your dog! Your dog could have intestinal conditions which, if not treated properly, will manifest in a dermatitis condition. If this is the case, your dog needs antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds to INHIBIT Histamine (what causes you to feel itchy). The intestinal condition could be from food he’s eaten… if you’re like me, i’ve given my dogs table food many times but after a while, their system simply cannot tolerate it for too long and I’ll notice something developing.

Additionally, are you treating your Dog with ADVANTIX for Canines? This is flee & mosquito monthly treatments… mosquitos are horrible now, flees too, but dogs get bit by many other insects from the grass (especially after you’ve mowed, those biting bugs are still flurring around wondering where their grass went, and you poor dog comes along and they see hair and voila!

I would also buy the Vet shampoo, or at minimum the shampoo to sooth bacterial infections. The Benadryl helps my dog, just try to give it to him 1-2 hrs before he typically gets into his scratching spells… it should kick in just in time… don’t give too much benadryl because they’ll dehydrate.

Hmmm… you say you let her “air dry” outside. Could it be that her wet fur attracts allergens at a higher level? I’m thinking pollen/dust/whatever sticking to her wet fur and becoming embedded in a way that doesn’t happen with dry fur.

Have you tried letting her dry indoors? I know, I know, wet dog smell & wet fur everywhere… but maybe worth a try?

even Johnsons baby shampoo is still too dry for their skin, especially if your dog has existing skin irritation… when you bathe your dog try NOT to scrub too hard where the skin is most irritated, you could exacerbate the condition, AND try to leave on a few minutes rather than lathering up and rinsing quickly. Also the water temp should be more cool than warm, as heat increases histamine.

Try “bathing” your dog with nothing but cool water. Go through the same motions/etc but do not use shampoo. Dry the dog indoors with a blow dryer on “cool”, or just blot repeatedly with a towel. If the dog still has the same pattern of pruritis, I would have your veterinarian refer you to a veterinary dermatologist. Some dog’s tissue fixed mast cells are very sensitive, and a mast cell stabilizing drug may help.

Also, do not hesitate to use diphenhydramine if it helps. You can give a milligram per pound. If she is 75 pounds, you can give 75 mg (assuming she is not on any medications that would cause problems there).

Many dogs do better if air-borne antigens are kept off their skin. A veterinary friend of mine in the UK swears by white cotton T-shirts. She has owners buy a bunch of shirts. Each time the dog goes outdoors, put a shirt on the dog. Remove it and launder it when the dog comes in.

Of course, keep the dog flea-free.

as Athena suggested, towel dry your dog as best you can and then allow your dog to airdry… if you have an attached garage with cement floor, dogs love the cool feeling from those type of floors, you could allow him to dry in there.

My dogs get towel dried but immediately after, they always want to do their 50-yard dash across the back yard :smiley: and then they rush to the door to come back inside, and I let them in.

Your dog’s diet can also have an effect on the condition of her skin. I was in the same boat with my black lab, especially in the summer months when her seasonal allergies kick in.

My vet prescribed a daily dose of benedryl for the summer months, and special shampoo, and above all, a gel pill with essential fatty acids (and some other stuff, I don’t have them with me right now) to help her dry, itchy, sensitive skin. There is a marked difference when she takes those pills every day vs. not taking them. Her fur is glossy and shiny, she scratches a LOT less, and the skin on her belly – the only area I can see easily – is smooth. The times I’ve run out and not picked some up for a week or so, her fur has lost is sheen and she gets little flaky bumps on her belly and in her ears. Poor thing.

My dog is a client at a veterinary dermatologist. She, too, would chew and scratch to the point of bleeding. After a set of allergy tests, we now give her an injection every other Sunday. It’s expensive, but it works. She now scratches at a normal, non-excessive level.
Before going to the dermo, we did do food tests and a few other things. Because of the cost involved, I suggest trying the proposed solutions given by the above posters first.

Thanks for all the advice so far, guys. I forgot to mention (in true SDMB fashion!) that she used to get regular Cortisone shots during the summer. But, I didn’t continue with those because they were expensive, they didn’t do much, she seemed to grow out of her regular bad allergies, she ended up being slightly itchy in the winter too (dryness) and the doctor didn’t recommend keeping her on the shots forever.

vetbridge, are you talking about Benadryl? I give her 50 mg, as recommended by the emergency vet, as she is between 80 and 90 lbs. I try not to give it to her too often as it does make her sleepy and thirsty. I think I might give it to her pre-emptively now before I mow the lawn.

Do note that on most days, she is NOT overly itchy. She gets most itchy when she’s dirty…then I bathe her and that is when the problems start.

I will definitely stop letting her dry outside. One victory lap and then down to the basement for playtime. I do wash her with cool water, too. Yesterday’s bath was downright cold (as noted by my skin when she shook all over me!)

She is flea-free. I don’t know about wearing t-shirts all the time…yeah, that’s not going to work. My biggest problem is just post bathtime.

Oh, I just remembered…she does get in to water quite a bit without the same effects as a bath. For instance, she went swimming in a lake the other day (clean enough for people to swim in) and it had no ill-effects. She also has a baby pool in the backyard that she “swims” in (fresh water only, gets dumped every night) and occasionally spends time in a small stream. She never has problems after any of these activities. So I would say that the act of getting WET is not her problem. It comes down to me shampooing her…so it’s either my method or my shampoo, yathink?

Do you need to wash the dog at all?

Benadryl is a brand named product that contains diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine is very cheap. Most drug stores have a store brand available. When diphenhydramine is packaged as an allergy product (like Benadryl) it is more costly. Packaged as a sleep aid (Sominex, Compoze) and they cost even more. Just buy Diphenhydramine. It can be given as needed and to effect, up to one mg per pound.

FWIW my dog also bites at his coat, but not to the extent that yours does. My vet suggested I add Missing Link to his food everyday.
We did, and his has cut his biting down.
It also helped heal the bare spots.

Have you had the dog allergy tested? My Shar-pei used to be like that at different times and it turns out he’s allergic to everything except sunshine, and I’m not 100% sure about that.

There are vet dermatologists, and you may want to seek one out if the allergy testing doesn’t show anything. My money is on them doing the allergy testing and you’ll find some chemical common in the shampoos that he’s allergic to.

BTW, you didn’t mention if you use flea collars or anything, but mine is terribly allergic to any use of anti-flea products like sprays, powders, collars, etc. If you use those on her OR on any other animal in the house, stop.

Have you ever had her shaved down very close? I wonder if she has a thick undercoat that stays wet and causes her a yeast like infection after bathing.

Good luck- as a Shar-pei mom, I know the misery of an itchy dawg.

Our dogs were getting itchy-bum. You know, bum on ground and scooting. Wasn’t worms. Vet said the dogs were just itchy. He recommended we get the cheapest sardines in oil we could find and give them a can, including the oil, on top of thier dried dog food occasionally. Works a treat - no itchy-bum, no itchy skin, as cheap as.

It is worth a try, unless one of the board vets vetos it - it is way cheaper than any of the other remedies! AND the dogs think they are getting a treat!!

Welp, here’s an update on Dolly…

By 4 today I’d had enough of her itching. She had slept most of the day, due to the Benadryl I’d given her and probably also due to lack of sleep from being up all night sleeping. She got up around 4 and started scratching again, just as bad. She looked so miserable. And she was leaving little hair clumps all over the house :frowning:

I took her into the tub in the basement and rinsed her thoroughly with cold water, rubbing gently but not too much so as to irritate her. I patted her dry, let her run a lap around the back yard, and brought her back in.

That did not help at all.

So, I ran up to the vet’s office, alone, to get some serious vet shampoo. Luckilly, her vet was standing right there. She had me get some Cortisoothe which is sort of expensive, and also some other kind of “soapless” shampoo that I can use on a more regular basis (save the expensive stuff for emergencies).

She also gave me some doggy anti-histimines, which she said works a little better for dogs (if nothing else, there’s no dye in the pills, unlike Benadryl capsules).

I brought the stuff home and washed her thoroughly. The medicated shampoo requires that you leave it on for 5-10 mins, and Dolly was very very patient (probably exhausted!) I patted her dry again, let her out for a minute, then let her dry indoors. I also gave her 2 anti-histimines.

She was still kind of itchy during the evening but by the time I brushed her, she was doing much better.

Now she’s sleeping, after three baths and a very long day. Seems to be all fixed.

Thanks so much everyone for your really great advice. Although this her situation is a little different than having a continual itchiness problem, I got some great tips on bathing and overall skin care.

Dolly thanks you!!

what’s the brand of the soapless shampoo thingie? My dog was making himself bleed after his last bath but he seems to be getting better. I’d like to avoid bathing him again for as long as possible. If it doesn’t get better, it’s a vet trip for him.

Glad Dolly’s feeling better!

The soapless shampoo is called PearLyt (pronounced “Pearl Lite” I believe). I haven’t tried it yet, so we’ll see if it keeps Dolly from itching after a bath.

When bathing your dog makes your dog itchy, it’s a sucky situation. I don’t know about you, but my dog gets itchy when she gets dirty enough. So I have to clean her to fix it, but cleaning her makes her itchy. A real catch-22!