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Why Dogs Scratch

by puppy on February 4, 2011

There is nothing more frustrating than listening to your dog scratch, scratch, scratch all the time. For some reason it seems so loud and distracting. Not only is it annoying, it can cause such severe skin irritation to your dog that he needs veterinary treatment to soothe his irritated skin.

There are many reasons why dogs scratch, some more common than others.

1. Fleas. This is by far the most common cause of dogs scratching. These little parasites bite your dog as they take a blood meal, and the itch can be severe. Some dogs are actually allergic to fleas, and the result is red skin and hair loss. It’s most common for flea irritation to develop over your dog’s rump, tail base and down his hind legs.

2. Nutrition.
This is often something that isn’t often considered when looking for a reason for your dog’s scratching. Dog owners often feed their dog with low quality pet foods that may be a bit short on the nutrients needed for a healthy coat and skin. With this in mind, always try to choose a reputable brand of pet food, even if it does cost that little bit extra. Some dogs are actually allergic to something they are eating, and this can manifest itself as scratching. You’ll need to do a food trial to work out what it is, and then don’t feed your dog that food ever again.

3. The environment.
Quite often, dogs can be allergic to certain kinds of grass and plants, and they scratch whenever they have been in contact with them. Also, dogs can develop a hay fever type condition called atopy, where they are allergic to dusts and pollens in the environment. This can be difficult to manage, because it’s not always possible to keep your dog away from the things he is reacting to. You may need to resort to anti-allergy medication to keep him comfortable.

4. Infections.
Bacterial and fungal infections can be a source of irritation for your dog, and can make him scratch all the time. These infections are often secondary to another problem such as an allergy, or a hormonal skin disorder. This means that treating the infection won’t solve the problem because the underlying cause is still there.

6. Your dog’s personality.
Some dogs scratch through anxiety and boredom. This is difficult to diagnose, because you really need to rule out all other causes of your dog’s itch. Medication is available that should help if your dog genuinely has a behavioral basis to his scratching.

If your dog is scratching excessively, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian to work out why. The sooner you can find the cause, the sooner your dog will get relief from the constant itching and irritation.

Visit the ASPCA for more information:
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jana Rade February 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Yes, not ignoring symptoms is crucial, whatever the symptom may be. Don’t let your vet ignore them either (I know some who don’t take somethings seriously or pin everything on allergies)

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