why is my dog scratching so much

Frequently Asked Questions: Why Is My Dog Scratching So Much?

You go into your room after a long day, turn the lights off, hit the sheets, and close your eyes– only to hear the familiar sound, that seems to be louder due to the silence and darkness in your room, of your dog incessantly scratching themselves and licking their paws. It’s frustrating for you, and it’s definitely frustrating for them!

The occasional scratching behind your dog’s ear is normal– but when they are scratching and itching and licking so much that their skin (and you) starts to become irritated, that’s when you might want to take a closer look. While there are a variety of reasons for this to occur, narrowing it down with a little research could help you figure out how to alleviate the discomfort your dog is experiencing. If symptoms persist, then the best course of action is to seek veterinary help!

Possible causes:

Fleas

It only takes one flea bite every few days to continue to cycle of itching and scratching.  Fleas cause an allergic reaction similar to that of mosquitoes with humans. Some symptoms may be worse due to an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva. 

Pollen, Mold, or Dust Mites

An allergic reaction to common environmental triggers, like pollen, mold spores, or dust mites could be why your pup is constantly scratching. Redness is a symptom of this and can cause continuous skin itching and licking.

allergies in dogs

Food

Food allergies can cause itchy skin in the feet, face, armpits, and belly area. Some common food allergies are beef, chicken, and dairy. They could also have frequent ear infections. Food allergies occur when the immune system responds inappropriately to something (usually a protein) found in the diet.

Skin Infections

Yeast and bacterial infections can be the cause of itching and discomfort. Look for skin that is greasy and red, or a darkened color, and has a distinct odor. Yeast affects areas of folded skin, like the ears, the neck, under the tail, and around or in between your dog’s toes.

Treatments:

For fleas

Monthly topicals or a flea collar is a great way to start. Use a flea shampoo to get rid of fleas that are already on your pet or use a shampoo with oatmeal or aloe to alleviate irritated, red skin. If fleas and ticks persist, they might have infiltrated your yard– in which case, try a yard spray like Wondercide! And prevent fleas in-between washes with an all-natural spray. Remember: only use cat-approved flea products for cats. You cannot use dog flea products on cats– they are not interchangeable. 

advantage II, seresto, advantix II

List of products:

  1. Seresto collars for dogs
  2. K9 Advantix II
  3. Advantage II 
  4. Seresto collars for cats
  5. PetLock 
  6. Kin + Kind flea & tick dog and cat shampoo 
  7. Wondercide Yard Spray
  8. Wondercide Flea and Tick Spray

 

For environmental factors like dust, pollen, or dust mites

Consider washing your dog’s bed in an unscented or low scented washing detergent to get rid of dust and other dirt. Also, pay attention to what time of year your dog starts experiencing symptoms if you are worried about pollen being a factor– this might indicate seasonal allergies. In these cases, you can’t really avoid all environmental factors so if your pet is really suffering, please speak to your vet about medication that can help make symptoms manageable. Medicated shampoo or ointments can help relieve the itchiness and discomfort, or a shampoo that contains oatmeal and aloe that will naturally soothe itchy skin. An additional tip: wipe off your pets’ paws after a trip outside with a clean wet washcloth to remove pollen!

pollen allergies for dogs

List of products:

  1. Kin + Kind oatmeal dog and cat shampoo
  2. Nootie aloe and oatmeal soothing dog and cat shampoo 

 

For food allergies

A food trial can help narrow down what food your dog is allergic to. Starting your dog on a food trial means your pet will eat a prescription diet and absolutely nothing else for a couple of months to see if symptoms resolve. Again, this is one you may want to speak to your vet about because they can guide you through this food transition with a prescription diet best suited for you and your dog. 

For yeast infections

Add supplements like Omega-3 and Omega-6 to your dog diet to make sure the gastrointestinal tract is healthy. Yeast can grow out of control when the immune system is compromised, so ensuring they have essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6 will help them build up a healthy immune system. Salmon oil is a great way to get these extra nutrients into their diet and all you have to do is add it on top of their food! Probiotics also ensure a healthy gut and will help treat the infection, and again, can be added as a topper to their food. To treat the skin, use antifungal shampoo that contains neem oil and let it sit on the skin for 10 minutes or so to remove the yeast. 

List of products:

  1. Grizzly Salmon Oil Plus
  2. Brilliant Salmon Oil 
  3. Healthy Essentials Probiotic Spray
  4. Prudence Absolute Immune Health
  5. Hollywood Feed Milk in Mississippi Goat Milk Soap (antifungal shampoo) 

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