My chihuahua has dry itchy skin, what’s causing it?

If your chihuahua has dry itchy skin, it’s probably driving them crazy (and you). Making them scratch and nibble at different areas and rubbing themselves along the furniture to try and get some relief. (This can also be an indicator that a they have compacted anal glands so never ignore this type of behaviour.) They may find it hard to settle at night and possibly display some behaviour changes.

If the itching and scratching gets out of control your chihuahua may scratch so much he causes skin damage and hot spots. Hot spots are raised red patches of skin that ooze and are intensely irritating and if left untreated can get infected.

You can also see the dry skin by parting the fur. Like dandruff in people, you will see little flakes of skin sitting at the base of the hair. (If the flakes look like they are moving around, you’re not seeing things, you have a different problem. See below: 

What causes dry itchy skin?

#1 Grooming products

It is essential to have a good grooming routine and to get your chihuahua used to being brushed as a puppy. Brushing helps distribute the oils over your chi’s skin and fur. Your chihuahua should enjoy being brushed (Minnie loves it and will roll over the second you get the brush out). As well as maintaining a good healthy coat, it is a lovely bonding exercise.

Shampoo, make sure you use dog appropriate shampoo. Human shampoo can be too acidic and contain too much fragrance. Use a shampoo that contains humectants or moisturizers. Natural humectants are aloe and honey. If your chihuahua is prone to dry skin avoid the blow dryer. Pat him dry after a bath and let him shake and run about to get dry. Be prepared for the zoomies after a bath, It’s how dogs deal with the stress of the situation. Don’t over bath your chi chi either as it can wash out the oils in his fur.

#2 Fleas, Mites & Mange

Fleas: When a flea bites your dog, he is going to bite at it to get some relief. Nibbling towards the tail area can be an indication of fleas. A bath in neem oil shampoo will kill all fleas and mites without dousing your chihuahua in harmful chemicals. But if the greater good is served by using a spot on product then I would use it. Itching will be driving your chi nuts and also contribute to reactive behaviour. It is possible that your chihuahua has flea allergy dermatitis, this is likely to need medication from the vet. 

Mites: Mites can be misery for your dog. This is where you may see the ‘dandruff’ (Cheyletiella mites) walking around on its own, or tiny red patches of dots (harvest mites). Cheyletiella mites or ‘walking dandruff’ is highly contagious so jump on this PDQ.

Mange: This will present as scaly patches of dark skin and dandruff. This is also caused by a mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) they burrow into the skin and cause appalling itching. Your chihuahua will scratch frantically and could damage himself. It is also highly contagious.

Fleas, mites and mange can be treated with neem oil and neem oil shampoo. Read: neem oil and why you can’t live without it.

#3 Allergies

Dogs like people can have allergies to pollen, grass, and VOC’s from household cleaners. Read: Household products that can cause allergies in dogs. The symptoms will be irritable skin, runny nose, eyes and itchy paws. You need to eliminate the allergies from your chihuahua’s environment. For that, consider keeping your indoor areas clean to reduce the chance of allergies in your furry friend. For starters, get your carpets and rugs cleaned thoroughly.

Keep in mind that if you still find the symptoms of allergies in your pet, after doing all this, then you need to consult a vet near you quickly. He can suggest you what to do about the problem. For instance, he can suggest you to administer a small dose of antihistamine to dampen down the symptoms. Read: Human medicines I can give my dog. I use a 1/4 a tablet twice a day. But check the does with your vet.

#4 Diet

Poor diet, loaded with carbohydrate and grains can play havoc with your chihuahuas skin. Dogs have no need of either of these ingredients in their diet, but low-quality kibble will be full of both. Owners have been inadvertently feeding this to their dogs for years because they trust the big brands to deliver the best nutrition. Even grain-free will be loaded with carbs because they are needed in the cooking process.

Yeast Infection: Carbohydrate will turn to sugars that your dog can’t process and as well as making your chihuahua fat, could cause a yeast infection. Read: Has your chihuahua got a yeast infection?

Leaky Gut: Grains and rice can cause an allergic reaction and contribute to ‘leaky gut syndrome’, leaky gut is a major contributor to food allergies. Read: Why you must stop feeding carbohydrates to your chihuahua.

The best bet is to switch your dog’s food to a good quality wet food or fresh home cooked. Like humans, dogs need a variety of good quality protein and fats to keep them healthy. Remember expensive doesn’t always mean quality. You are looking for a good quality protein food. Mix the proteins up, fish, meat, offal and eggs.

Add a little bit of sardine to their nosh once or twice a week as it’s better to get the oils from source. You could also feed them a lightly fried egg twice a week. Keep the yolk runny so you don’t destroy the long-chain-fatty-acids. Add a probiotic to their food to address any gut flora imbalances, what’s going on in your dog’s gut has a massive impact on health and behaviour.

#4 Thyroid disease

Thyroid disease or hypothyroidism can cause a dry brittle coat, thick scaly scabs and dark patches of skin. You would need to discuss treatment with your vet.

Help your dog with itchy skin

Check for fleas and mites and treat accordingly.

Make sure you dog is on an optimal fresh diet.

Treat hotspots with a soothing antiseptic, we are trying out Leucillin with Minnie.

Give your chihuahua a colloidal oat bath recipe below.

Give your dog an antihistamine, we give Minnie ¼ tab twice a day.

Try some CBD oil to help calm your chihuahua.

Wipe their feet and belly when you get in from walks.

Add a probiotic to their food to settle the gut.

Check for impacted anal glands.

Make them a soothing foot soak.

Reduce over excitement and stress.

Switch to chemical free cleaning with a steam mop and be aware of what your dog’s skin is coming into contact with.

Colloidal Oatmeal Bath recipe

Colloidal oatmeal bath sounds complicated than it is. Colloidal means very small particles that are suspended evenly in a medium, in this case water. You can make this yourself if you can grind oats down to a fine powder.

  • Buy some organic oatmeal (not instant) and grind it down to a very fine powder.
  • Add 2-3 cups to lukewarm water and swish it around until it has dissolved.
  • Get your chihuahua to soak in the bath for about 10 minutes. Gently tip some over his back.
  • If your chihuahua is very sticky afterwards, then rinse him lightly with warm water.
  • Pat dry with a towel and let your chi air dry

Be careful as the bath will be very slippery.

Do this 2-3 times a week until you see an improvement in his condition.

The oatmeal should be very soothing and draw out the irritation in his skin.