We want to keep our dogs as comfortable and happy as possible, which is why we worry when they seem to constantly be scratching, shaking or even gnawing at their skin at all hours of the day. While some itching is perfectly normal, excessive itching can be dangerous for your dog and is usually indicative of a larger problem.
There are a few different reasons why your pooch might be scratching at himself constantly. Luckily, many of them can be cured and healed in very little time, letting your dog relax and enjoy itch-free skin once again. If you notice your dog scratching non-stop, he could be suffering from any of these five things.
Fleas are one of the most common causes of skin problems in dogs because they are tiny and can spread fast. Some dogs only experience severe itching in cases with an abundance of fleas in their coats, while other dogs are allergic to flea saliva. In these cases, a single flea bite can cause intense scratching, biting and more.
If you suspect your dog has fleas, check its fur for flea dirt—the small reddish-black specks of waste fleas leave behind. Then, you’ll need to work to eradicate the infestation. Most pet stores sell flea-specific shampoos for dogs that will kill the parasites immediately. Afterwards, get a flea comb to comb out the flea dirt built up in the dog’s fur and remove the dead fleas.
2. Dry skin
Some skin irritation issues like dry skin can cause dogs to scratch and bite at the skin to soothe itchiness. Dry skin is often a result of a fatty acid deficiency or harsh weather. Fortunately, you can use supplements to provide your pooch with the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids they need to maintain healthy skin and coats, to avoid future itchiness.
Ticks are another nasty bug that can cause severe itchiness in dogs, especially if multiple are present. When they emerge in the spring and summer, ticks will latch onto your pooch in wooded and grassy areas and bite into the skin to suck its blood. Inflammation can occur at the point of contact and get worse the longer the tick stays attached.
Not only can they cause itchiness due to inflammation, ticks can spread potentially fatal diseases to your dog, so they should be removed as soon as possible. To get rid of a tick, grasp the body with a pair of tweezers and pull it out straight without twisting or squishing. Put the tick in a jar or isopropyl alcohol and treat the bite area with antiseptic.
Much like humans, dog allergies come from both food and the environment. Food allergies occur when proteins in certain foods cause a physical reaction on your dog’s body. These reactions usually manifest as inflamed bumps that can cause severe itchiness.
Similarly, environmental allergens such as outdoor trees, grasses and pollens, or certain chemicals or perfumes, can be inhaled absorbed into your dog’s skin and cause atopy, a dermatological reaction that will cause your dog to itch excessively.
The only way to see if your dog is allergic to a particular food or environmental allergen is to take them to the vet and have them tested. After, the vet can prescribe a course of action to either avoid certain allergens or use medications to keep reactions at bay.
If your dog does develop an itchy allergic reaction, warm baths followed by topical creams can help soothe the inflamed skin and make the dog less itchy.
Skin infections can occur for a number of reasons, but one of the most common are bacterial infections as a result of excessive scratching itself. If the skin problem that is causing your dog to scratch to no end goes unresolved, your pooch may actually cause hot spots—red, inflamed sores—cuts or lesions on its body. These can get infected, leading to even more itching and a vicious, infected cycle.
If you notice any red, inflamed, bleeding or pus-filled areas or sores on your dog’s body, rinse the area immediately and take the dog to the vet to have it inspected. To clear the infection, the vet will likely prescribe an antibacterial medication and help dress the wound to prevent further complications.
Give your dog itch-free bliss
Given the wide variety of skin problems your dog may develop, diagnosing the right one can be a difficult process. When your dog begins to itch excessively, start by looking for external parasites like fleas and ticks, then check for patches of dry skin, hot spots and infections.
Always take your dog to the vet if it develops an infection or you suspect it has an allergy. Once the problem is found and the right treatment is implemented, your dog should be able to rest itch-free.