It’s important for any of us who deal with this problem to figure out the cause and to take care of it as quickly as possible. Whether the scratching is caused by food allergies, fleas, or an emotional problem, scratching can lead to hot spots, infections, and other serious skin problems.
What Makes Your Dog Scratch and How to Stop It
There are several possible reasons for your dog scratching incessantly. Once you identify the cause, there are numerous ways to stop it – or to prevent it from starting in the first place.
Infection – Infections can be caused by bacteria, yeast, or fungi. The signs of infection are greasy sores, hairless patches, or red swelling. A visit to your vet is usually necessary if you see these symptoms; he or she will probably prescribe some form of antibiotics or anti-fungal cream.
Allergenic – Food, flea, plant and dust allergies can all cause skin problems that lead to severe itching. Allergies can be treated with antihistamines and a change in diet
Nutritional –A dog that doesn’t get the right nutrients in his diet can get dry skin, developing eczema, sores, or simply bad hair that leads to dryness and causes itching. A change in diet usually alleviates this condition.
The main cause of my own dog’s scratching was food allergies. The culprit was manufactured dog food which contained wheat and corn. The ultimate solution for him was changing to a more natural diet of fruits, vegetables and chicken.
Environmental –Water from swimming, or dust from digging or playing outside. A quick spray with the garden hose can get rid of the dust in the dog’s coat, and a thorough drying will prevent wet hair from triggering the scratching.
Parasites –Ticks, fleas, flies, gnats, and mites. There are several good products which can be purchased at any pet store which can completely prevent this condition.
Neurogenic – This is a nervous issue that shows up as excessive licking or chewing, and is the most difficult symptom to stop. For chronic neurogenic itching, it’s really important that you figure out why your dog feels the urge to continuously scratch his skin. The cause is often a lack of exercise or mental stimulation, or is caused by separation anxiety.
One of the easiest solutions is to make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. It’s common for a dog to simply be bored which in turn can lead to his developing a neurotic itching or licking. Increasing his play and/or exercise time should help this problem a lot – and it will make you feel better, too.
To avert this behavior, you can put cayenne pepper or get a spray to use on his favorite licking spots. You can also get a cone from the vet that will prevent the dog from reaching those hot spots or infected areas until they’re cured.
Getting Help from the Vet
It’s always a good idea to visit your vet and have your dog examined. If the scratching has caused an infection, your dog will probably need some form of antibiotics, or anti-fungal cream; and parasites can be treated with flea baths and medications.
If a food allergy is the culprit, the vet may be able to recommend a change in diet or a non-allergenic food product.