Does your pup constantly scratch with seemingly no relief? Are you hearing the constant jangle of his collar and tag as he scratches his neck all day? Or perhaps you notice that your dog’s favorite activity every day is licking his paws. If you see any excessive itching or licking, it is important to act on it. Excessive scratching or licking can cause further discomfort via sores, red, irritated skin, or even infection. There are several reasons that could cause your dog to feel itchy. It is important to schedule an appointment with us so we can get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, the veterinary team at The Pets Place Animal Hospital has compiled a list of the top 5 things that could be making your dog itchy:
There are several environmental allergens that abound–especially during the warmer months of the year. Buzzing insects can sting your pup and the venom from that sting can cause an allergic reaction. Ticks and fleas can try to make homes in your pup’s fur, which causes incessant itching as well. Various weeds, trees, and flowers release pollen in the air, and molds growing nearby can irritate your dog when the spores are released into the air. Pollutants, like vehicle fumes, carried by the wind can affect both your dog’s skin and respiratory systems. If you have seasonal allergies caused by environmental allergens, chances are your dog may have them too.
Sometimes when something is going on inside, it manifests on the outside. Bacterial or fungal infections, like Ringworm, can cause severe itching in your dog. Ringworm is fairly common and can be spread to humans, so it is important to seek out treatment promptly. Internal bugs like parasites and worms can thrive in your dog’s digestive tract and can cause rectal itching. Abscesses can develop just under the skin, acting as a pocket of infection, which could cause inflammation and itching. These can be very painful, and excessive scratching can only make the discomfort worse.
Choice of food is very important in the grand scheme of your dog’s wellness plan. Optimal nutrition can help them maintain a healthy coat and weight and help prevent chronic diseases. There is a chance, however, that some foods contain ingredients that may not agree with your pup. Food allergies account for about 10% of allergies in dogs. There may be multiple ingredients in your dog’s food that can cause an itchy, allergic reaction. It is best to bring your pup in for testing to determine the root cause. Once testing has identified the culprit, adjustments can be made to your dog’s nutrition to alleviate his or her symptoms.
Much like humans, dogs have hormones that regulate their bodily functions. Hormones play a role in the health and integrity of the skin, and if your pup has an imbalance, this may be the cause of their itching. If they have low thyroid hormone levels, for example, their skin may become flaky, discolored, oily, or uncomfortable. This condition, known as hypothyroidism, is the most common hormone disorder in dogs. Other hormones, like sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, may become out of balance especially if your dog is not spayed or neutered. This imbalance can also cause skin issues.
Have you ever seen a dog in the middle of an obedience class stop everything to sit and scratch its neck? The dog may seem like he or she is not wanting to be obedient or wants to do something else entirely like play with a toy. Scratching is a comforting behavior, so it might help when they feel anxious. If you notice that your pup seems excessively anxious and is scratching himself raw, it is important to address this with your veterinary team so that it doesn’t become a compulsive behavior.
The itchy dog is quite common but does not have to be a permanent, uncomfortable situation. It is important to investigate and treat the cause of any itching to ensure your dog’s first line of defense, their skin, remains healthy. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help.