It’s not unusual for our dogs to scratch themselves throughout the day. But now and then, there are times where you notice that your pup is carrying out their ritual a little too frequently – and it’s at that point you begin to wonder if a problem is afoot.
If you’re getting a little worried and are looking for reasons why your dog could be scratching, it’s worth being aware of the foremost conditions that cause it.
Food and environmental allergies
Have you recently changed their diet in any way? A sudden change of nutrient sources for your pup can often cause a bad belly – but if there’s an ingredient in their new diet that they’re allergic to, these issues can often manifest themselves in rashes. And when your dog tries to alleviate the discomfort through scratching, small wounds can be opened up, leading to further discomfort through bacterial and fungal infections. If you suspect your dog may be allergic to their new food, consult with your local vet with regard to setting up a custom diet program for them.
If you haven’t changed their food, it’s often worth considering other possibilities. Similar to humans, all dogs can be allergic to the presence of various triggers around the home environment. Whether it’s tobacco smoke, dust, pollen, mold or perfume, they can easily develop symptoms that lead to constant scratching. Luckily, vets can run allergy tests on pets just like doctors do with us, and the results can often be quite surprising. Once the allergy has been identified, you can take steps to remove it from your home.
Fleas. We’ve all had to deal with them, and we hate them. When they bite humans or dogs, the saliva that fleas produce is often a painful source of irritation. For humans, a simple topical cream will fix the issue, but dogs tend to go straight for a round of manic scratching.
To check whether or not fleas could be causing a problem, use a flea comb, and check to see if you are removing any live fleas, eggs or larvae with each pass. If you are, they could be one of the reasons why your dog could be scratching, and it’s worth a trip to the vets to pick up some medicinal shampoo.
Yeast and bacterial infections
Bacterial infections account for the majority of all skin complaints for dogs – mainly because they often form as a result of other stimuli, such as minor cuts or bites by pests. Compounded by constant scratches, bacterial infections can easily become quite dangerous if left untreated.
The same is true for yeast infections, which are often a consequence of both environmental and pest-based allergies. Often leading to lesions around the ears, armpits and groin, yeast infections can be kept to a minimum by seeking vet treatment, and ensuring that your pup is kept clean and dry, avoiding the circumstances that can lead to further spreading.
Mites, ticks and lice
Mites, ticks and lice are more unwanted home invaders that are likely to be one of the reasons why your dog could be scratching. For dogs, one of the worst offenders in terms of causing discomfort are the presence of ear mites. Feeding on oils and waxes that exist naturally in the ear, these mites often cause pain and swelling in an area that’s not so easily accessible and as a result can drive your dog mad. A lack of medication over time can lead to infections that can permanently affect your dog’s hearing, so it must be taken seriously. Mites are also linked to the occurrence of mange, a serious condition that causes inflammation of the skin and has even led to the death of older dogs.
Ticks and lice can also have a consistent effect on your pup’s daily life thanks to their ability to feed off skin and blood, leading to irritation. If your dog does get a tick, unless you are experienced, it is advised to go to a vet to have it removed, as the head can otherwise be left buried in the skin – leading to many more serious issues later on. With lice on the other hand, a daily wash with a suitable medicated dog shampoo should be adequate for their removal.
Similar to dandruff in humans, seborrhoea is a condition that effects many dogs leading to excessive scaling. The excessive scaling is often a result of complex dietary issues which can be addressed through a customised diet program set up by your vet. Seborrhoea can also frequently be caused by high levels of stress. So, if any of your own personal lifestyle changes have led to a constant disruption of your dog’s daily routine, it may be worth examining how you can better accommodate your dog’s private and social needs.
Much like humans, any imbalance in our pooch’s carefully crafted hormonal system can easily lead to skin complaints which can be one of the key reasons why your dog could be scratching. The various glands inside the body that produce these hormones has a direct effect on the regulation of fats and proteins – causing mood swings and constant irritability.
With all these conditions, it’s important to be aware that a home diagnosis is unlikely to be overly successful – mainly due to the number of similar symptoms. In all cases where you feel excessive itching and scratching are occurring, we highly recommend discussing the issues with a qualified vet who can advise you on the best way to help return your best friend to perfect health.