There’s nothing worse than when your dog has an itch that they can’t scratch. And when your dog keeps scratching for days, weeks and even months, it can be absolute torture.
If you notice excessive itching, it’s important to figure out what’s causing it because there’s almost always an underlying issue. When a dog keeps scratching, it can lead to sores, infections, and overall discomfort, and that’s no fun for anyone!
Here are some reasons why your dog could be scratching excessively:
Fleas are the first things people associate with an itchy dog. It’s important to check your dog even if they’re taking flea prevention medicine. They are pesky little buggers, and one of the most common reasons your dog keeps scratching. Worse, if you don’t catch them, they can multiply very quickly throughout your home.
According to Merck, “In North America, only a few species commonly infest house pets. Two common species of flea are the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and the dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis). However, most of the fleas found on both dogs and cats are cat fleas. Fleas cause severe irritation in other animals and humans. They also transmit a wide variety of diseases, including tapeworm infections and the typhus-like rickettsiae.”
Fleas may be small, but they can cause significant problems if you ignore them. You’ll want to take care of a flea infestation as soon as possible. Talk to your vet if you are unsure which treatment method is best, and don’t forget to keep your home clean. Wash everything your dog has come into contact with, and if you vacuum, toss the bag to help stop them from invading again.
Food and environmental allergies don’t just affect humans; they can also bother dogs. While it may take a lot of trial and error to learn exactly what’s causing these symptoms, it’s worth trying to figure out why your dog keeps scratching. Left untreated, allergies can cause hair loss and even worse, dangerous skin infections.
If you think allergies are causing discomfort in your dog, it’s a good idea to call your vet and come up with a plan to diagnose and eradicate the issue. Symptoms of food and seasonal allergies can present themselves in similar ways, so it’s best to trust a professional to save yourself the frustration. Your vet will have the knowledge to differentiate the two, and they know how to diagnose and treat these issues safely. Allergies can be severe, and even deadly, so it’s best not to go it alone.
Mites and Parasites
Mites and parasites cause a very uncomfortable condition called mange. According to Merck, “Mange is caused by microscopic mites that invade the skin of otherwise healthy animals. The mites irritate the skin, resulting in itching, hair loss, and inflammation. All forms of mange are highly contagious.”
Highly contagious and very uncomfortable for any dog, mange should never go untreated. Isolate your dog from other pets, and even humans, until you can get a vet exam and a treatment plan.
Your vet will have to test skin scrapings from the infected area to figure out what kind of parasite is causing the discomfort. Most of the time your dog will be prescribed an anti-parasitic medicine and shampoo. While it is easier to treat in younger dogs, older dogs can be treated, too, it just might take a while for them to heal. No matter what the age, you will need to take your dog in for skin scrapings approximately every two weeks until it clears up. Medicines that treat parasites can be very toxic, so make sure you discontinue their use as soon as you get the okay from your vet.
Anxiety or Boredom
When your dog keeps scratching, licking and biting nonstop, it could be anxiety or even boredom. Excessive scratching can cause sores, which can lead to severe infection if it goes unnoticed.
Exercise is a great, natural way to help alleviate boredom and anxiety in dogs. PetMD states, “Though exercise needs are based on a dog’s age, breed, size, and overall health, your dog should spend between 30 minutes to two hours on an activity every day.”
Dogs that are busy are a lot less likely to be destructive to themselves or your belongings. While there are things you can try at home, your veterinarian can best help you establish a treatment method that is right for you and your dog. Chances are, if you are following a strict routine, it’s possible to eliminate boredom and anxiety without medication.
While it is always a good idea to call your veterinarian when you’re unsure, the best first steps to take when you notice your dog keeps scratching is to make sure they are clean and dry. A scent-free shampoo is your best bet because perfumes can irritate the skin even more. If you discover any sores, make sure they are clean, then have them looked at to prevent infection.
If you suspect that boredom or anxiety is the culprit, schedule at least a half hour a day to dedicate to one-on-one time with your dog. Love and attention can make the most significant difference in a pet’s life. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your day to day life, but it’s every pet owner’s responsibility to give their pet the happiest, healthiest life they can. Plus, all that time spent with your dog is great for you and your family too.
I’m sure you have seen at least one of the numerous studies have shown that dogs can significantly help people that suffer from all kinds of ailments such as anxiety and depression, cancer, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, and autism. Dogs are great companions for people of any age, and they are so loyal that we owe it to them to make sure they’re living their best life because they can certainly help us live ours.
What have you done when your dog keeps scratching? Share your experience in the comments.
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