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

This is one of the most common reasons why our furry friends – especially the little ones dogs – are taken to the vet, and can be quite uncomfortable and annoying for poor puppies, and upsetting for their owners.

Yes, I’m talking about itchy dogs.

You may notice your dog constantly licking, biting and scratching his skin, and because of this scratching he may develop infections or secondary skin lesions.

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

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Itchy dogs can be quite uncomfortable and it may be worth consulting your veterinarian. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Why is my dog ​​itching?

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

Your veterinarian is the best person to walk you through the elimination process and identify the cause, then come up with a plan to figure out how to deal with the itching. This could make your dog feel like you’re on medication and, if there’s a secondary infection, antibiotics.

Common causes of itching, aside from fleas, include allergies and food intolerance, but they can also be caused by insect bites, infections, or chemicals and irritants used in some shampoos and conditioners.

Once the skin barrier is broken down, it is unable to protect itself against allergens and environmental irritants, which further dries out the skin and makes your poor dog more itchy.

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Dog owner is shocked after picking up pet from groomer

As a human, you will be familiar with hay fever – watery eyes, runny nose and constant sneezing. In dogs, however, allergies often present as itchy skin.

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

Dogs, like humans, 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 undertaken – but with the help of your veterinarian, not a staff doctor.

How do I get my dog ​​to stop the itching?

The first thing to do is to make sure the possibility of chips has been ruled out.

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

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

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Woman holding her dog while they sit
The first step is to eliminate the possibility of fleas. (Getty)

Outdoor allergies such as grass can be the cause of the itching, and if you suspect this is the case, wipe your dog’s feet and belly with a damp cloth after he is outside so that the allergens can be eliminated.

Bedding is another factor to consider, as it often harbors allergens such as dust mites. It is important to wash the litter regularly and also consider replacing your dog’s litter products if you have had it for more than a year. Hypoallergenic dog beds with machine-washable covers are convenient, and washing them weekly is less of a chore.

What to do with fleas

For general flea management, it’s important to make sure your dog’s flea treatments – which should ideally break the flea life cycle – are up to date and make sure you clean the environment thoroughly. your animal with an intensive vacuum cleaner and to wash all its hair. bedding regularly.

Hot, humid weather – humidity – is the perfect breeding ground for fleas, and prevention is key to avoiding a summer infestation. If left unchecked, a flea breeding pair is capable of producing 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. Fleas thrive by jumping on multiple types of hosts, and because of this, diseases from one host can be transmitted via the flea to another – it is not unusual for a tapeworm infection to originate from accidental ingestion of a flea.

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french bulldog
Be sure to regularly and thoroughly clean your dog’s litter box. (Getty)

A variety of flea treatment options are available, and your veterinarian is the one to consult about the best strategy for dealing with your specific situation, and whether you should follow an oral, topical, or herbal treatment plan. of necklace.

It is essential that you clean your pet’s environment once you realize they have fleas – thoroughly vacuum carpets, sofas, floors, empty your trash can and bag the vacuum, and wash bedding and blankets in hot water.

How to tell if your dog has fleas

If your pet is constantly grooming and licking — especially if it’s more than usual — or frantically biting or scratching his coat, he may have fleas.

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

Try looking for “flea dirt” in your pet’s coat, which looks exactly like it does – tiny dark brown specks that look like dirt.

“Flea dirt” is the dried feces of a flea and can be found by brushing your pet’s coat on a white paper towel. If, when you place a drop of water on the paper towel stains, the stain turns red, the fleas have digested blood.

Fleas are small, dark insects that typically hide around the neck, hind legs, and base of the tail. Just because you see one chip doesn’t mean there aren’t others, quite the contrary.

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

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