Is A Hormonal Imbalance Causing My Dog’s Itchy Skin?

If your dog is itching, it’s natural to wonder if fleas, allergies, or even dry skin could be to blame. But there’s another possible explanation for your dog’s itchiness. Read on for everything you need to know about hormonal imbalances in dogs, which can cause flaky, oily, and itchy skin as our dogs age.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Has A Hormonal Imbalance?

Photo: Flickr/Donnie Ray Jones

Just like humans, dogs undergo hormonal changes throughout their lifetime, and they tend to wear their shifting hormones on their skin. Raw, flaky, discolored, and itchy skin could signal a hormone imbalance. Studies have also suggested a link between hormone disorders in dogs and canine anxiety (which also makes dogs itch).

Signs of hormone imbalances in dogs:

  • Flaky, oily, or discolored skin
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive panting or drinking
  • Appetite changes
  • Dry, brittle coat
  • Patchy or thinning fur
  • Itchiness
  • What Causes Hormone Imbalances In Dogs?

    Photo: Flickr/Tony Alter

    Older dogs are more likely to suffer from both hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Syndrome, which are two leading hormone disorders in dogs. Hormonal imbalances can also occur after dogs are neutered or spayed, which can leave female dogs low on estrogen. Failing to neuter dogs also opens the door to hormonal imbalances caused by excess testosterone. Many hormone disorders (particularly hypothyroidism) begin to affect dogs in middle age.

    What Is Hypothyroidism In Dogs?

    Photo: Flickr/Roban Kramer

    Hypothyroidism, which is caused by an under-active or malfunctioning thyroid, is the most common hormone disorder in dogs. This low thyroid condition affects all dog breeds, but hypothyroidism is most common among medium to large dogs with at least five years of age.

    What dog breeds are prone to hypothyroidism?

  • Labradors
  • Boxers
  • Dobermans
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Irish setters
  • Dachshunds
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Airedale Terriers
  • What Is Cushing’s Syndrome In Dogs?

    Photo: Flickr/Samuel Cockman

    Cushing’s Syndrome (aka Cushing’s Disease) is a hormone imbalance that occurs when (usually middle-aged) dogs have too much cortisol in their system. Although less common than hypothyroidism in dogs, Cushing’s Disease impacts your pup’s ability to regulate stress, weight, blood sugar, infections. Like other hormone disorders, Cushing’s Disease also causes skin problems and itching.

    How Can I Tell If My Dog Has A Hormonal Imbalance?

    Photo: Flickr/Yi-Ting Chen

    Make an appointment with your vet if you suspect your dog is suffering from a hormonal imbalance. Your veterinarian will perform a blood test to check your dog’s thyroid and other hormone levels, and then prescribe treatment as appropriate. Some hormone imbalances (including thyroid disorders) in dogs can’t be cured, but they can be easily managed with medication. If your dog is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your vet may prescribe Thryo Tabs Canine, an FDA-approved replacement therapy for hypothyroidism in dogs.


    Hormone imbalances in dogs can lead to serious health complications (including dog anxiety) if left untreated, so taking your dog to the vet if you’re not sure what’s causing his itchy skin.

    Additional Resources:

  • Dog Allergies Guide
  • Why Is My Dog So Itchy?
  • Ear Mites: Are These Unseen Critters Causing Your Dog’s Itching?
  • How To Spot Dog Fleas, Find Relief, And Rid Your Itchy Dog Of Fleas For Good
  • Hot Spots: What Causes Them And How To Get Rid Of Them
  • Dry Skin On Dogs: What Causes It And How To Treat It
  • How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Dog?
  • Everything You Need To Know About Protecting Your Pet From Foxtail Grass
  • Anxiety In Dogs: How To Calm Your Anxious Dog (And Improve His Bad Behavior)
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