Dog Itchy Explained: Dr Katrina Warren explains why your dog is so itchy and what to do about it

This is one of the most common causes of our furry friends – especially the little ones dogs – is taken to the vet and can be quite uncomfortable and annoying for the poor pups, as well as upsetting for their owners.

Yes, I’m talking about itchy dogs.

You may find that your dog is constantly licking, biting, and scratching their skin, and as a result of this scratching, they may develop secondary skin infections or lesions.

Here’s what you need to know about helping your dog with persistent itching.

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Itchy dogs can be quite uncomfortable, and this may be something to see your vet about. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Why is my dog ​​itchy?

Fleas aren’t the only reason your dog may experience persistent itching, but they should be ruled out first.

Your vet is the best person to guide you through the elimination process and determine the cause and then develop a plan to figure out how to manage the itching. This is similar to having your dog on medication and antibiotics if there is a secondary infection.

Other than fleas, common causes of itching include allergies and food intolerances, but it can also be caused by insect bites, infections, or chemicals and irritants used in some shampoos and conditioners.

Once the skin barrier is broken, it is unable to protect itself from allergens and irritants in the environment, which further dries out the skin and makes your poor pooch itchy.

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The dog’s owner was shocked after taking his pet from the groomers

As a human, you will be familiar with hay fever – watery eyes, runny nose and constant sneezing. In dogs, allergies often manifest themselves in the form of skin itching.

One type of allergic reaction in dogs is atopic dermatitis, usually triggered by pollens, dust mites, or smoke, environments that can cause a dog’s immune system to overreact. Veterinarians can perform tests to determine which allergens are triggering your pet.

Just like people, dogs can have food allergies and reactions occur when their immune system reacts to protein, wheat, preservatives or soy. As with humans, a food elimination trial can be performed – albeit with the help of your vet rather than a folk doctor.

How can I get my dog ​​to stop itching?

The first thing to do is to make sure that the possibility of fleas is excluded.

If it’s not fleas, try using a hypoallergenic and sulfate-free soothing shampoo and conditioner that will help protect the skin. These products should not be human products, as human shampoo and conditioner are made for human hair and skin, and if they are used on dogs, they can actually strip the natural oils from the coat and further irritate the skin.

Another thing you can do to relieve itching is to provide essential fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6 – to try and reduce inflammation associated with common skin problems.

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A woman holding her dog while sitting
The first step is to eliminate the possibility of fleas. (Getty)

Outdoor allergies such as grass can be the culprit of the itchiness, and if you suspect this is the case, wipe your dog’s legs and belly with a damp cloth after being outside to remove the allergens.

Bedding is another factor to consider, as they often harbor allergens such as dust mites. It’s important to wash bedding regularly, and consider changing your dog’s bedding if it’s been over a year. Hypoallergenic dog beds with machine washable covers are comfortable and less work to wash weekly.

What to do with fleas

For overall flea control, it’s important to make sure your dog’s flea treatment—ideally, it should break the flea life cycle—is current and up-to-date, and to thoroughly vacuum your pet’s surroundings and wash them all down. regular bedding.

Warm and humid weather—humidity—is the perfect breeding ground for fleas to thrive, and prevention is key to avoiding a summer infestation. If left unchecked, a pair of fleas can produce over 20,000 fleas in three months.

Flea bites are one of the most irritating problems for pets, and they can cause an aggravating skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis. A flea thrives by jumping between several types of hosts, so diseases from one host can be passed on to another through the flea – it’s not uncommon to get a tapeworm infection from accidentally ingesting a flea.

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French bulldog
Be sure to clean your dog’s bedding regularly and thoroughly. (Getty)

There are a variety of flea treatment options available, and your veterinarian will be the one to advise you on the best strategy to address your particular situation and whether to implement an oral, topical, or collar-based treatment plan.

Once you realize your pet has fleas, it’s important to clean up around your pet – vacuuming carpets, couches, floorboards thoroughly, emptying the trash can and vacuum bag, and washing bedding and blankets in hot water will do the trick.

How to tell if your dog has fleas

If your pet is constantly grooming and licking himself – especially more than usual – or frantically biting or scratching his coat, he may have fleas.

Another sign is bald patches or hair loss, especially around the base of the tail.

Try looking for “flea dirt” on your pet’s coat, which is what they sound like – small dark brown spots that look like dirt.

“Flea dirt” is dried flea feces and can be found by rubbing your pet’s coat on a white paper towel. If you put a drop of water on the spots on the paper towel and it turns red, then the flea has digested some of the blood.

Fleas are small dark insects that usually hide on the neck, hind legs and base of the tail. Just because you see one flea doesn’t mean there aren’t others – quite the opposite, in fact.

If you’ve seen all the signs that your pet has fleas, but you don’t see any live fleas on them, don’t assume your pet doesn’t have fleas – they’re hiding in the thick, dark areas of your pet’s coat.

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