Can Dogs Get Swimmer’s Itch? [Paddling Dilemma]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Imagine the joy of watching your furry friend frolic in the refreshing waters of a lake on a sun-soaked day. 

But wait – could those playful splashes lead to an unexpected itch that drives both you and your canine companion crazy?

Can dogs get swimmer’s itch?

It can be quite alarming, especially for first time dog parents, but there are ways you can overcome this.

In this post, you will learn the reasons for it happening, how you can prevent it, as well as a few great tips before you guys go swimming next time.

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Why is My Dog Itchy After Swimming? Is It Swimmer’s Itch?

Why is My Dog Itchy After Swimming

There could be many reasons why your dog is itchy after swimming, and a swimmer’s itch is one of those.

But what exactly is a swimmer’s itch?

Swimmer’s itch is a really itchy rash caused by worms called schistosomes. 

Humans and dogs alike can get swimmer’s itch by the way.

The problems is, it can be more severe among dogs since the parasitic worms don’t live long in a human’s body but they do on a dog.

How could your dog get swimmer’s itch? 

Simple enough, your dog probably waded in or swam on shallow water infested with those parasitic worms called schistosomes.

It’s the swimmer’s itch that gets your dog itching if he is also suffering from diarrhea and vomiting.

When the situation gets severe, the swimmer’s itch can also damage your dog’s liver so be sure to monitor and send to your vet if necessary.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has a Swimmer’s Itch?

It’s very easy to know if your dog has a swimmer’s itch because the skin lesion will appear quickly after wading in infested water.

Your dog  will constantly itch all over his body until rashes appear.

But it doesn’t stop there because the parasites that get into your dog’s body will also make him vomit.

Diarrhea is a common symptom too, and most often, dogs even have blood on their stools because of swimmer’s itch.

Your dog will also have no appetite, causing him to lose weight. Some dog owners also share that their dogs experience drooling and lethargy.

I also wanna let you know that a swimmer’s itch can escalate quickly among dogs. Maybe some won’t suffer much, but it could be fatal to others.

Get him to the vet right away if you ever suspect he has a swimmer’s itch.

How Long Does Swimmer’s Itch Last in Dogs?

How Long Does Swimmer's Itch Last in Dogs

Swimmer’s itch lasts differently among dogs.

If your dog’s condition isn’t so severe and you’ve given him medications right away, the rash and parasites can leave his body within 14 days.

But if you’ve taken too much time to give your dog the medical care he needs, complications may already happen inside his body.

If this is the case, then his liver could be damaged, and there’s no telling when your dog will be cured unless he visits a vet.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Swimmer’s Itch?

I don’t know of any way you can treat it at home to be honest.

You can give him some remedies to soothe the itchiness, but that can’t totally treat the swimmer’s itch.

To completely recover, it’s best to bring him to the vet for consultation.

Most of the time, vets will administer deworming to your dog to eliminate the parasites that get into his body.

DON’T try to deworm your dog at home without your vet’s approval. 

Some dog owners like to take things into their own hands, and though I know they mean well, they could only make the matter worse.

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Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: My dog has red spots on his privates

What Can Help Soothe a Dog’s Itchy Skin?

Oatmeal bath

For this oatmeal bath, you’ll need ground plain oatmeal and a clean lukewarm tub of water.

Encourage your dog to get inside the tub and bathe in the oatmeal bath by giving him some treats.

The mixture of oatmeal and water will give your poor dog some relief from his itchy skin.

If your dog is itchy on some parts of his body only, you can just apply ground oatmeal with water on those itchy spots.

Chamomile and green tea soaks

Chamomile and green tea soaks don’t only work wonders in soothing human-inflamed skin. They’re excellent in soothing a dog’s itchy skin as well!

Not only are they very calming to your dog, but they are also really effective in soothing the angry rashes that a swimmer’s itch may have caused.

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Itch in Dogs?

The simplest and easiest way to prevent swimmer’s itch in dogs is to avoid swimming in dirty bodies of water.

There are many ways you and your dog can enjoy the summer days without going for a dip in some questionable river, lake, or beach.

I’ve seen dog owners buy inflatable pools which they set up in their backyards for their dogs to swim around. 

You can just do the same and enjoy the summer sun in the safety of your fences.

But if your dog has accidentally taken a dip in dirty water, just give him a thorough bath right away.

Is Swimmer’s Itch Similar in Dogs and Humans?

Swimmer’s itch is similar AND different in dogs and humans.

You see, both humans and dogs get swimmer’s itches from swimming in water where the parasites called schistosomes live.

Both will also have a really nasty itchy rash as the symptoms of swimmer’s itch.

Fortunately for us humans, a swimmer’s itch doesn’t last long in our bodies as we don’t make for a great parasitic host.

And UNFORTUNATELY for our poor dogs, the parasites that cause swimmer’s itch can live in their bodies for so long.

This means that dogs will suffer worse and will experience more symptoms than humans.

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Tips on Caring for Your Dog’s Skin After Going to the Beach

A quick rinse before going home

Don’t let your dog go home right away after swimming on the beach.

Most beaches have bathrooms or outdoor showers where you can rinse your dog before going home.

This is a simple way of getting rid of any dirt or bacteria that may cling to your dog’s fur after bathing on the beach.

Sand and algae that are in your dog’s body can easily be washed away by rinsing him with clean water.

Proper bath at home

Once you get home from the beach, run your dog a full bath to make sure he is thoroughly clean.

If you notice your dog is itching, give him an oatmeal bath right away. This will quickly soothe his skin and will stop any itching from happening. 

You should also clean your dog’s eyes and ears after going to the beach since these are the parts where bacteria can easily live.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does salt water make a dog’s skin itchy?

Too much exposure to salt water can make a dog’s skin itchy since it can make his skin dry. But if the salt water is clean and your dog rarely goes in for a dip, no harm can be done to his skin.

Should you bathe your dog after swimming?

You should bathe your dog after swimming to rinse him off of any bacteria that may cause damage to his skin.

Does a dog’s swimmer’s itch go away on its own?

Since a swimmer’s itch tends to thrive in a dog’s body compared to humans, a dog’s swimmer itch rarely ever goes away on its own. It’s important to give your dog the proper treatment to cure swimmer’s itch to avoid complications.

Does Vaseline prevent swimmer’s itch?

Vaseline is a water-repellent substance that may lessen the chance of schistosomes entering the body, hence many people use it to prevent swimmer’s itch. However, it doesn’t always prove to work.

Why is my dog itchy after the beach?

Your dog might be itchy after the beach because the saltwater dried his skin. Swimmer’s itch is also a possible reason why your dog is itchy if the beach has dirty water.

Is ocean water bad for dogs’ skin?

Ocean water improves your dog’s skin hydration, which may strengthen it if exposed in moderation. But if your dog is always bathing in the ocean water, it can cause your dog’s skin to get dry, and itchy.

Does vinegar help swimmers itch?

Applying the itchy spot with vinegar lessens the itch that a swimmer’s itch brings but it doesn’t certainly cure it since the parasites live inside the body of the host.

In Conclusion: Can Dogs Get Swimmer’s Itch

While it doesn’t happen often, we definitely still need to be on guard when bringing our dogs out for swims, particularly when it’s in bodies of water we aren’t familiar with. 

Prioritizing their well-being through proper post-swim care, regular baths, and avoiding potentially contaminated waters ensures that your furry friend’s aquatic adventures remain enjoyable and itch-free!

Hey! If you found this post useful, check out these dog care tips too:

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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