Constant Itching in Poodles

by Shelly Volsche , Demand Media
    If these chocolate poodles are constantly itching, find the reason.

    If these chocolate poodles are constantly itching, find the reason.

    Itching to the extent of pulling out hair is a common problem for many poodles. It is important to follow a process of elimination when dealing with itching, as it can be caused by everything from environmental allergies to skin disorders like fleas or mites to excessive grooming to nutritional concerns.

    Begin With a Veterinarian Visit

    Anytime your poodle is exhibiting abnormal physical symptoms or behavior, it is best to speak to your veterinarian before proceeding with food or grooming changes. Though less common, skin disorders such as fleas or mange require medications or specialty shampoos.
    More frequently, poodles are prone to environmental allergies (also known as atopic dermatitis), and often, an allergy test is required. Once your veterinarian has determined the cause of your poodle's itching, a treatment plan can be developed. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, allergy treatment options may include avoidance of the allergen, use of antihistamines and immunotherapy treatment involving the injection of small doses of the offending allergen.
    If your veterinarian finds that an environmental allergen is the culprit, follow the treatment plan closely.

    Grooming Can Help

    Particularly if your poodle has an environmental allergy, quality, regular grooming is essential. According to the American Kennel Club, a poodle's coat should be "curly: of naturally harsh texture, dense throughout." Additionally, since the breed was developed for hunting near water, many poodles have a slight "oil" to the coat. Because of this, allergens tend to cling to the coat and need to be removed regularly.
    To avoid drying out the coat, do not bathe him more than once every two weeks. Stick to scent- and dye-free shampoos. Brush daily. During particularly high-allergen seasons, unscented baby wipes can be used to wipe down your poodle's paws, legs and face.

    Nutrition Can Help Environmental Allergies

    If your poodle suffers from environmental allergens, his endocrine system is under constant stress. For this reason, it is best to stick to a simple diet with less than five ingredients. California Natural, Natural Balance and Blue Buffalo are all brands that include canned food and kibble recipes with minimal ingredients. Working with your vet or a nutrition consultant, you may even find that a home-cooked meal is ideal in your situation.

    Nutrition for Skin Problems

    If environmental allergies are not the culprit, it your poodle could be sensitive to something in his diet. Many of today's pet foods contain ingredients that are difficult for most dogs to digest. The top five food allergens are corn, wheat, soy, chicken byproducts and barley. If your current food contains these or related ingredients, consider switching.
    Consider switching to fresh or dehydrated diets. Good options include The Honest Kitchen, SoJos and Grandma Lucy's.
    Finally, consider adding a quality fish oil and probiotic to your poodle's diet to help balance the immune system.

    Work With a Professional

    The most important thing is to know you are not alone. Work with a veterinarian and canine nutrition consultant. These professionals can create a plan specifically to meet your poodle's individual needs.

    About the Author

    Shelly Volsche is a certified professional dog trainer, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology and a diploma in canine nutrition, as well as a certificate in technical communications. Volsche has written for "The Chronicle of the Dog" and "Lucky Dog Magazine." She is currently pursuing Masters degree in anthrozoology.

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