, July 21, 2024

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On Dog Scratching

  •   2 min reads
On Dog Scratching

Beatrice Murch via Flickr

by Niko Gabriel Salgado

Dogs scratch themselves from time to time. But if you observe continuous scratching, licking, and chewing, it is best to bring your dog to the vet for a check-up immediately. There are numerous potential reasons for your dog’s itchiness. While scratching is frequently triggered by fleas or other parasites, it can also signal an underlying condition


Hillary Parker, in “Dogs and Compulsive Scratching, Licking, and Chewing” in Web MD, gave some reasons for dog scratching and what you can do to help your dog:

1. Skin Allergy

Dogs encounter numerous allergens like pollen, molds, dust, and insects (particularly fleas).

“While food allergies are a potential issue, they are not as widespread as some might assume,” Parker said.

A dog scratches his ear. (Photo from Adobe Stock | photo-vista.)

2. Hormonal imbalance

“If your dog’s body is not producing enough thyroid hormone or putting out too much of the hormone cortisol, skin infections can occur,” Parker noted.

There may be bald spots which your dog will scratch and lick continuously.

3. Pain

“When trying to determine why your dog is licking or chewing excessively, be sure to consider the possibility that something is making them physically uncomfortable,” Parker said.

He added that compulsive chewing or licking may be due to orthopedic problems such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.

4. Parasites

The most common causes are fleas, ticks, and mites.

“Although ticks are often visible to the naked eye, fleas often go unseen until there is a large infestation, and mites are microscopic. Don’t assume that your dog isn’t suffering from parasites just because you can’t see them,” Parker said.

A dog licks his body. (Photo from iStock | yellowsarah.)

Possible Treatment:

Parker listed the following:

1. Eliminating parasites

In cases where fleas are the cause, make sure to regularly clean to reduce possibility of re-infestation. Ask your vet for a suitable tick and flea product and also treat any other animals in the household.

2. Change in diet

The significance of high-quality dog food in their diet plays a crucial role in preserving their skin and coat, even for dogs without food allergies.

Grains are uncommon causes of food allergies and most pets are allergic to animal proteins. A special diet may be recommended by your vet.

3. Medication

You veterinarian will prescribe medicine if needed. Parker said your vet may recommend topical or antibiotics, steroids or anti-itch products to treat hot spots or skin infections.

4. Addressing anxiety and boredom

Sometimes, anxiety and boredom in dogs manifest in excessive scratching and licking. Like humans, dogs can have physical responses to being psychologically upset.

To reduce this, Parker urged owners to make sure your dog receives enough exercise, attention, and love.

“It can also be helpful to train your dog to chew on toys or bones to relieve stress” Parker added.

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