You may have noticed your dog scratching himself all the time. Dog scratching can vary from light, occasional scratching to constant scratching, which can lead to exposed sores. There are six different possible reasons: parasitic, infectious, nutritional, allergic, environmental, and neurogenic.
You probably have already thought it might be the most common parasite – fleas. When the flea bites, it causes dog itching due to a reaction to flea saliva. Search your dog to see if there are any signs of fleas. There are plenty of commercially available medicated baths, as well as powders and flea collars, that can help get rid of fleas.
Other possible parasites include ticks, chiggers, gnats, deer flies, and several kinds of mites. Some mites cause the condition commonly called mange. Your veterinarian will be able to give you prescriptions to help with these parasites.
Sometimes the causes may be microscopic. Wounds are often the breeding grounds for yeasts, fungi and bacteria. These may also appear if the immune system is stressed. The most common kind is ringworm (not a parasite as the name suggests), which is treatable. There is also a bacterial infection called infectious dermatitis, which can be treated by cutting away the hair around the wound (so it has a chance to dry out) and using creams. Adding a quality supplement to your dog’s daily diet can help boost his immune system to help prevent these types of infections. Take your dog to the vet if you suspect ringworm.
If a dog has a poor diet, it will affect the whole body, not just the skin and hair. Since the skin is in poor health, it often causes dog scratching. Make sure that the first ingredient in any dog food is some sort of meat. A good quality dog supplement added to your dog’s food will work wonders for your his nutritional health, including improving his skin.
Sometimes a dog will develop an allergy to something it has come in contact with. This type is difficult to diagnose and your veterinarian will have to check all other possible reasons. Skin and blood tests may help find the culprit. There are antihistamines, baths, ointments and sprays that may help soothe your dog’s allergies. However, there is no cure for allergies and you will have to be especially careful to try and keep your dog away from the allergen. In some cases dogs may also develop an allergy to dog food. The dog’s immune system can start reacting against the ingredients in the food over time, much the same way as a human can develop lactose intolerance after a lifetime of eating dairy. Changing your dog’s diet to a raw diet (BARF) can sometimes help with this.
If otherwise healthy, your dog may just be itchy due to something in the environment. When simply environmental, these items are not actual allergies and may occur in any dog. A small scratch from walking in the bushes can cause infection and skin irritation. Grass is another common irritant in many dogs. Plastics may also cause dog itching. Sometimes contact with wetness – such as a pool, rain, or a lake may cause lesions called hot spots. The water gets trapped under the hair and next to the skin, causing the skin to become damp, irritated and itchy. The easiest solution is to try to keep the dog away from the irritant.
Strangely enough, sometimes there is no cause. The dog simply feels compelled to scratch. You will have to work closely with your veterinarian to try to deter this behavior.
Once you have figured out what is causing dog itching, you can take the proper steps to make your pet more comfortable. In many cases, a high quality dog supplement can keep your dog’s skin healthy and itch-free. Look for one which is is full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes your dog needs to stay healthy.