Why Do Dogs Itch Themselves

There are many different reasons why dogs scratch, lick, or chew, from allergies to boredom to parasite infestation:

  • Allergies. When dog scratching becomes excessive, dietary allergies or environmental factors like mold and pollen are frequently to blame. Dogs who come into contact with things like soap or insecticides may also have contact dermatitis, a skin rash.
  • anxiety or boredom Just as anxious individuals may gnaw their nails or twirl their hair, so too can dogs react physically to emotional distress. In reality, some dogs experience a disorder similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans. It can take the form of destructive actions including chewing, licking, or scratching.
  • dry skin Dogs’ dry skin can be brought on by a number of things, such as the wintertime climate and fatty acid deficiency. Your pet may scratch or lick their skin or fur in response to their distress.
  • imbalances in hormones. The body of your dog may produce too much cortisol or not enough thyroid hormone, which can lead to superficial skin diseases. Your dog may scratch or lick as though they are experiencing allergies, and you might detect bald spots.
  • Pain. Be sure to take into account the possibility that anything is physically uncomfortable for your dog when attempting to figure out why they are licking or chewing excessively. A thorn or sharp stone may be lodged in your dog’s foot pad, for instance, if you notice them continuously biting their paws. Orthopedic conditions including arthritis and hip dysplasia can also cause compulsive chewing or licking.
  • Parasites. Fleas, ticks, and mites are some of the most typical causes of obsessive dog licking, chewing, or scratching activities. Ticks are frequently apparent to the naked eye, whereas fleas and mites are typically not seen until there is a significant infestation. Don’t assume your dog doesn’t have parasites just because you can’t see them, then.

Do dogs typically scratch themselves?

Veterinarian Sorin McKnight, DVM, of the College Station, Texas-based Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center, gave this paper a thorough medical assessment.

To make sure you receive the most accurate and practical information on your health and fitness, our stories are checked by medical experts. Visit our medical review board for further details.

  • If your dog has seasonal or food allergies, they could scratch frequently.
  • Yeast or bacterial skin diseases can also induce compulsive scratching.
  • Another skin condition that can be quite itchy is mange.

Dogs occasionally itch themselves; however, if you find your dog scratching constantly, this can indicate a problem. Your dog may be itchy for a variety of reasons. Fleas and other parasites are frequently to blame for scratching, but other diseases, such as hypothyroidism, can also be the reason.

Here are five possible causes of your dog’s constant scratching, along with remedies.

How can I stop my dog from self-scratching?

Everybody gets the need to scratch an itch now and then, and dogs are no exception. However, persistent scratching in dogs may point to a psychological or physiological issue. If the itching is not relieved, it may get worse, increasing discomfort and perhaps leading to additional health issues.

Thankfully, there are several ways to stop your pup from scratching herself and provide her some much-needed relief.

Why You Need to Address Your Dog’s Scratching

All dogs itch every once in a while, but frequent scratching can cause infections and other major health issues.

“Scratching damages the protective layer of healthy skin. This enables the penetration and growth of bacteria, yeast, and parasites. Additionally, it dries out the skin, which makes ititching worse. Because of this, if you wait, says Dr. Jason Sweitzer, a veterinarian at Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California, they acquire more infections and frequently require more expensive treatments.

According to Dr. Christine Cain, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, persistent scratching can also result in hair loss and skin thickening. And as a pet owner, the scratching must be difficult for you as well.

“The act of scratching is almost unpleasant from a human perspective. According to Dr. Liz Stelow, chief of service at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at University of California, Davis, the sound of dog tags jingling all the time is disturbing, and it is challenging to witness a dog in the degree of anguish that is generally indicated by continuous scratching.

Numerous problems, including as parasites, skin infections, allergies, and tumors, can make dogs scratch. Behavior problems, albeit less typical, could also be the cause of your dog’s scratching.

Start at the Vet

Your veterinarian is most equipped to identify the cause of your dog’s scratching, treat it, and keep an eye on any potential secondary conditions.

Oral antibiotics and/or antifungals may be required if scratching has caused a secondary skin infection. According to Dr. Susan Jeffrey, a veterinarian at Truesdell Animal Care Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, mange is treated with drugs like ivermectin or medicated dips.

According to Cain, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist, veterinarians check for symptoms of parasites, skin infections, or allergic skin diseases that could be the source of itching. A step-by-step work-up to eliminate potential causes and pinpoint the itch’s origin may be part of this.

Don’t Forget to Use Preventions

Since flea bites are a primary cause of itch, your dog’s care routine should include flea and tick treatment.

“Even if they never notice a flea, owners should at the very least have (and use) a high-quality flea treatment year-round. Any climate can support fleas. According to Stelow, they typically jump on to feed and leap off before we even see them.

However, not all flea preventives are created equal. Some vets advise choosing veterinarian-prescribed or suggested remedies over homemade ones. Additionally, make sure to get dog-specific preventives.

Tackle Boredom

“A dog may require additional mental stimulation if behavior is the cause of the itching. According to her, this could involve bringing your dog on walks more frequently or putting it in a dog daycare facility rather than leaving it home alone.” The key to keeping these dogs content and preventing excessive clawing and licking is enrichment.

Your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer can decide whether your dog’s scratching is due to boredom or another behavioral issue.

Offer a Skin-Soothing Bath

Providing relief is crucial because the more irritated your dog becomes, the more she’ll want to scratch herself. Baths are a great way to help her feel better.

“I advise obtaining an oatmeal-based pet shampoo with no aroma if an owner is seeking for a gentle shampoo for a dog without a skin ailment. Use infant or human shampoo sparingly because they can be very drying, advises Jeffrey.

She claims that only veterinarians sell medicated shampoos, which typically have antiseptic and antifungal chemicals.

According to Sweitzer, prescription shampoos can help maintain your dog’s coat by washing off allergies and reducing the quantity of bacteria on the coat. They are also safe for everyday usage. Consult your veterinarian for advice on the best shampoo and bathing routines for your particular circumstances.

Consider Medication

According to Jeffrey, antihistamines can occasionally help dogs with environmental allergies, but your dog may also need medication designed especially for pets. According to her, dogs with environmental allergies may benefit from immunotherapy, which includes allergy injections and oral drops.

Antihistamines can be purchased over-the-counter, but a veterinarian prescription is required for the others, according to her. Consult your veterinarian about the medication and dose before administering over-the-counter medications to your dog.

Re-Examine Your Dog’s Diet

Do not undervalue the impact that nutrition has on your dog’s itching. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet can help her inflamed, itchy skin.

“It has been discovered that omega 3 fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory effects. According to Jeffrey, this indirectly benefits the skin because itching can result from inflammation, which in turn causes additional itching.

If your dog has food allergies, think about giving them fish oil dog supplements or a hypoallergenic diet, which is only available from veterinarians. Both of these options can benefit your dog and keep them comfortable.

She claims that because the protein source is broken down into such tiny fragments, the dog’s immune system does not detect the proteins. ” The dog is not itchy when the immune system is not responding to the proteins to which the dog is sensitive.

How can I treat my dog’s itch?

  • Calendula, green tea, and chamomile all have anti-inflammatory and soothing characteristics that make them excellent additions to a dog bath for itchy skin. The dogs who benefit from these soaks the most are those with hot, itchy patches of skin that are prone to being rubbed raw.
  • Fill your tub or sink with warm water and soak several herbal tea bags in it for three minutes if your dog is terribly scratchy all over. Take out the tea bags and give your dog at least five minutes to soak in the bath.
  • Alternately, brew one or two tea bags in around two glasses of hot water for smaller, itchier spots. Pour the cooled tea over your dog’s skin as a temporary remedy, letting it drip dry without rinsing.

How can I tell if my dog is scratching excessively?

  • The act of repeatedly biting, licking, or scratching one’s body to the point of self-trauma
  • licking something so much that saliva stains it
  • Flea feces or obvious parasites (“flea dirt on the animal”)

Now for the more difficult responses:

  • Scratching that does not result in secondary skin or coat changes: Some people believe that scratching is “normal” if their pet does not develop skin lesions. This, however, is not always the case. Some canines do suffer from skin allergies, which can be uncomfortable and itchy but don’t always result in alterations to their vision. It’s important to note that these dogs are uncomfortable, and their scratching needs to be treated.
  • Yes, animals will occasionally groom or clean themselves, as evidenced by licking the feet. However, frequent foot licking or chewing may occasionally be a sign of allergies or even a nail bed or foot infection.
  • Dandruff, dry skin, and flaking: Some pets experience slight flaking that doesn’t seem to bother them. But in addition to causing some itching, dry skin can also be a warning that the food or the shampoo needs to be changed.
  • Pigment changes: As dogs age, they may develop some new, natural hyperpigmentation. But hyperpigmentation can also point to a skin problem that needs to be looked at.

One of the most crucial things to realize about itching is that the best way to control it is to treat any underlying causes as well as the itching itself (s).

  • Does the pet have allergies to the environment? What then can we do to stay away from the allergens? Is allergy testing an alternative?
  • Is a food allergy a factor in the issue? To find out, we might need to think about a hypoallergenic diet for 6 to 8 weeks.
  • The pet may be allergic to fleas and/or have fleas. This one is simple—fleas can be treated and prevented because to the abundance of excellent flea control alternatives available.
  • Exists there a skin infection? Next, let’s identify the infection’s type and choose the best drug to treat it.

There are more options available to us in terms of the itching. Not all options will be suitable for every patient. Again, this relates to the idea of working together. Depending on how an animal is responding to a certain therapy, we may need to go over our list of possibilities with pet owners. We try something else if something doesn’t work or only works partially. Sometimes we have to experiment with several things at once. Simply said, it relies on the severity of the condition and the patient’s reaction (and toleration) to a certain treatment.

We published a three-part blog post about allergens in the fall of 2016:

Why does my dog continually self-licking and scratching?

The reason for a dog’s self-focused licking, gnawing, or scratching may be simpler to identify. There are six main reasons why your dog could lick itself excessively. Allergies, boredom, dry skin, hormone imbalance, pain, and parasites are a few of them. Food and environmental allergies are also possible.

How to relieve itchy skin

Everybody occasionally experiences an itch. A persistent itch, on the other hand, is one that persists for more than six weeks and is more likely to interfere with your daily activities. Follow these recommendations from dermatologists to help relieve itchy skin.

There are several causes of itching skin. It could be a symptom of an infectious illness like scabies or ringworm or it could be the outcome of a skin condition like eczema, shingles, hives, or psoriasis.

The following advice is offered by dermatologists to help calm irritated skin:

Use an ice pack or a cold, moist cloth to scratchy skin. Continue doing this for five to ten minutes, or until the itching stops.

Take a bath with oatmeal. Particularly for blisters or gushing skin caused by chickenpox, hives, poison ivy, or sunburn, this can be quite soothing.

hydrate your skin. Always pick a moisturizer devoid of fragrances, chemicals, and perfumes.

Use calming substances like menthol or calamine. To help create this cooling effect, you might also put your moisturizer in the refrigerator.

Avoid scratching your skin while you are treating it because this will aggravate the irritation and raise your chance of developing a skin infection. It’s a good idea to take actions to lessen itching in your skin.

Dermatologists suggest the following recommendations to help reduce itching:

Use warm water—not hot—to bathe. Try to keep your shower or bath to no more than 10 minutes.

Make use of “lotions, soaps, and detergents without fragrances to reduce irritation Pay attention to product labels “since they could still include chemicals that can hurt your skin. unscented

Apply drugs as instructed by your dermatologist before moisturizing. Then, moisturize the entire surface of your skin, including the regions where you have been applying medication.