Why is my dog so itchy after the beach?

Answered by Antonio Sutton

Swimmer’s itch, also known as cercarial dermatitis, can be a common problem for dogs after a trip to the beach. This condition is caused by parasites, specifically certain species of flatworms called schistosomes, that live in freshwater bodies such as lakes and ponds. When your dog swims or wades in water infested with these parasites, they can burrow into your dog’s skin, leading to itchiness and discomfort.

The life cycle of these parasites involves freshwater snails as an intermediate host. The snails release larvae into the water, which then penetrate the skin of animals, including dogs, to complete their life cycle. While these parasites are not harmful to dogs, the presence of the larvae in the skin triggers an immune response, resulting in the itching sensation.

One of the best ways to prevent swimmer’s itch in dogs is to avoid allowing them to swim in freshwater bodies known to be infested with the parasites. However, this may not always be possible or practical, especially if your dog loves water activities. In such cases, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the risk and alleviate the itchiness.

Firstly, it can be helpful to rinse your dog with fresh water immediately after swimming in infested water. This can help remove any parasites that may be present on the skin before they have a chance to burrow in. Thoroughly drying your dog’s coat with a towel can also help in getting rid of any remaining parasites.

Additionally, you may consider using a dog-specific swimmer’s itch prevention product. These products usually contain ingredients that help repel or kill the parasites, reducing the likelihood of infection. It’s important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and consult with your veterinarian before using any topical treatments on your dog.

If your dog does develop swimmer’s itch, there are a few measures you can take to provide relief. Regular bathing with a mild, hypoallergenic shampoo can soothe the irritated skin and remove any remaining parasites. Your veterinarian may also recommend antihistamines or other medications to help relieve the itching.

While swimmer’s itch can be bothersome for your dog, it is usually a temporary condition that resolves on its own within a few days to a week. However, if your dog’s symptoms persist or worsen, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian as there may be underlying skin conditions or infections that need to be addressed.

If your dog becomes itchy after a trip to the beach, swimmer’s itch could be the culprit. Taking preventive measures such as rinsing and drying your dog after swimming, using swimmer’s itch prevention products, and seeking veterinary care if needed can help alleviate the itchiness and ensure your dog’s skin stays healthy.