Dog owners are used to seeing their dogs scratch fairly often. However, you know your dog best, and you can tell when they are scratching more than normal. If this happens suddenly, you may find yourself wondering what the underlying cause is.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why your dog might be scratching so much. Read through this list to see if you can figure out what might be causing the problem for your dog. With this information, you can speak to your veterinarian to find out more about what to do from there. Call Antioch Veterinary Hospital today at (925) 757–2800.
Possible Causes of Scratching
Dogs who have problems with anxiety may be prone to licking, chewing, and scratching frequently. This is a nervous habit not unlike humans biting their fingernails. If you think anxiety could be the cause of your dog’s scratching, talk to your vet about putting them on some dog-safe anxiety medication.
Boredom is also related to this problem. Dogs who are not stimulated enough may become bored, which can then lead to anxiety. Be sure you’re playing with and engaging your dog enough each day to prevent this problem.
Dogs with skin allergies may scratch often because their skin is itchy. They may also develop hives or rashes that lead them to scratch even more. This can occur when dogs are exposed to allergens such as pollen while spending time outside.
Dogs with food allergies may also have itchy skin because of this allergy. In fact, frequent scratching is often one of the first signs dog owners notice that leads them to realize their dog has a food allergy. Speak to your vet for more information about managing food allergies in your dog.
Fleas and Ticks
Perhaps the most common cause of frequent scratching in dogs is itching associated with fleas. Fleas can infest a dog very quickly after exposure, so if you aren’t treating your dog for fleas, they may be prone to developing this problem in no time. To see if your dog has fleas, part their fur and look closely at their skin in several locations. You will either see the fleas themselves, or “flea dirt,” which is the excrement they leave behind.
Ticks can also cause scratching. You can spot ticks the same way as fleas, by checking your dog’s skin in the area where they are scratching the most.
Dry Skin or Hot Spots
Dogs with dry skin are likely to scratch often, just like humans with dry skin. You may need to install a humidifier in the room where your dog sleeps to help treat their dry skin. Otherwise, your vet can often provide a topical cream or ointment that will help their skin feel soothed.
Hot spots are large welts that are caused by bacteria or funguses present on a dog’s skin. These infections quickly turn into large, open sores that ooze and itch. Dogs scratch and lick them, which worsens them. Vet treatment may be required to deal with hot spots.
If your dog is in pain, they may scratch the location where they are hurting frequently. Although this may seem odd, it happens when dogs are unsure how to deal with the painful sensations they are feeling. Many times, dogs will also lick the painful spot just as frequently, and they may scratch and lick until there is no more fur on the location of their pain.
If you think your dog might be scratching due to pain, take them to the vet right away. The vet can check for the underlying cause of this problem and can help you figure out ways to manage it, too.
Finally, dogs who are not groomed frequently enough may develop scratching problems due to irritation. When dogs are not groomed for too long, their fur and skin may become dirty and can develop a wide variety of irritants that cause them to scratch.
You can resolve this problem quickly by giving your dog a bath with dog-safe oatmeal shampoo. This soothing shampoo is ideal for dogs dealing with skin irritation, and washing your dog thoroughly will help their skin feel less itchy at the same time.
What Can Be Done for My Dog if They are Scratching
Many of the causes of frequent scratching in dogs are fairly simple. They do not cause significant, long-term health problems, but they can make your dog uncomfortable and can be a symptom of other issues, like allergies. By working with a trusted vet, you can figure out the reason for your dog’s scratching and learn what to do to help treat it.
If your dog’s scratching is short-term and they stop this behavior in just a few days, you can probably assume it was caused by an allergen and doesn’t need further checking. Otherwise, however, a vet visit may be in order. Call Antioch Veterinary Hospital at (925) 757–2800 to make an appointment today!