Like a heat-seeking missile, a dog scratching at an itchy spot will keep doing it even after they break their skin and cause a wound to form. Itching is fairly common, and thankfully, the underlying condition is often treatable.
If your dog keeps scratching an itchy spot for a while, you can do your part. Help him by identifying the reasons why so you can provide the correct treatment and steps for prevention.
Why is My Dog Scratching?
Some of the most common reasons why a dog keeps scratching include:
Ticks are actually small types of arachnids that require blood to survive. When they bite, they release a toxin that creates inflammation at the bite site. This inflammation worsens as long as the tick stays attached to the dog’s skin. Because of the puncture, bacteria can also be introduced underneath the skin that causes infection, leading to more scratching and irritation.
Like ticks, fleas attach to your dog’s skin and release saliva into the bite site. This bite causes an allergic reaction known as FAD or flea allergic dermatitis that causes intense itchiness. The most affected areas in the dog’s body include the head, neck, groin area, tail base, and anus. Fleas also leave dry, fecal matter on your dog’s skin that resembles tiny black specks.
Mange is caused by certain types of mites, such as Sarcoptes and Demodex. They are microscopic parasites that burrow under the skin surface where they feed. Their bite causes inflammation and an allergic reaction on your dog, which increases the risk of secondary infections due to fungi, yeast, or bacteria. Mange typically appears initially on the dog’s armpits, ear margins, elbows, groin, and other areas with the least amount of skin.
- Nutritional Allergies
Some dogs are sensitive to certain types of food. Their food allergy may be triggered by chicken, seafood, fish, dairy, or beef. They may even be susceptible to allergies caused by the consumption of grains such as rice, corn, or wheat. The reaction may show up in different ways and may include itching and skin inflammation.
- Seasonal Allergies
Dogs, like their human companions, suffer from seasonal allergies as well, particularly during spring, summer, and autumn. Dogs with a particularly sensitive immune system are especially susceptible to allergies caused by certain types of grass, flowers, trees, and shrubs. The allergic reaction usually manifests as itchy, inflamed skin.
How Can I Get My Dog to Stop Scratching?
Tips to prevent your dog constantly scratching:
Avoid areas where ticks are known to exist. These include kennels, dog parks, kennels, and wooded areas. To keep ticks from your dog, talk to your veterinarian about potential treatments that will help protect your dog from parasites.
Keep your dog away from areas that are likely to have a flea infestation. You may also want to discuss a preventive treatment with your veterinarian. Certain preventive treatments can work well with your dog, whether it’s oral medication, topical creams, and ointments, or anti-flea collars.
A healthy dog is not likely to become susceptible to mange. However, if it does show up in your dog, there are treatments you can use to stop the infections and itching if your dog keeps scratching. Your veterinarian can identify the specific type of mite that caused the infection, then prescribe a mode of treatment which could include topical spot creams/ointments, soaps, oral drugs, dips, and injections. If your dog is healthy enough and mange is minimal, it could resolve on its own without treatment.
Food Allergies in Dogs
A veterinarian can diagnose the problem if a dog food allergy is to blame. Typically, your vet will recommend an elimination diet to identify which foods your pet is allergic to. The vet can then suggest the type of diet that your dog can consume to avoid allergic reactions.
Prevent seasonal allergies in dogs through regular baths and coat brushing. Keeping your dog away from known allergens also helps, and using an effective air filtration system indoors can do wonders not just for your dog’s health but also yours.