Dogs have a lot of behaviors and most of them we never think twice about. But, scratching is one of those things that all dog owners should spend more time coming to understand because, without basic knowledge of why your dog scratches and what he’s doing, you might miss important symptoms of illness.
The Causes of Scratching
Dogs scratch for any number of reasons. They generally do it to relieve a real itch – the result of an allergy, a flea bite, or an irritation that they might get from time spent out of the house in water, mud, or other irritants.
When your dog starts to itch, the easiest way to identify the source is to watch him and his other symptoms. If you see dandruff, a dull coat with no oils, or constant sneezing, he is probably suffering from dry skin and allergies.
If he starts developing red spots or sores, he may have a skin infection that can grow and actually make him ill. If this is the case, you need to see the vet immediately to get treatment for the infection.
Other possible sources might be neurological. A dog that spends far too much time licking and scratching and not enough time outside, getting exercise or enjoying the nice weather is highly likely to develop dry, itchy patches that will need treatment.
When to Worry About Scratching
For the most part, you can ignore when a dog starts to scratch. However, when it becomes chronic, or any form of damage starts to appear as a result of their scratching, you need to rethink your allowance. For example, if you see any sores start to open up or the dog gets particularly vicious in his scratching, think about taking a trip to the vet to see if there might be a deeper underlying cause for their issues.
A veterinarian will do a series of blood tests and checks on the dog’s skin to make sure there are not serious diseases or problems related to their scratching. For example if they start bleeding or have swollen ears or other infections, it could be a deeper underlying issue that needs to be dealt with.
How to Stop Excess Scratching
There are a few ways to curb all that scratching. First up, try to treat any issues that may have developed as a result of infection or allergies. Get him tested and then get the necessary flea medications or antibiotics. After treatment, you can curb further scratching by applying deterrents to the spots such as bitter apple or cayenne pepper. You can also tape it up so he cannot scratch the surface, and then use a cone of some sort that will keep him from getting to it.
If your dog scratches his neck every now and then, it’s just an itch. Don’t worry about it. However, if your dog sits and scratches endlessly at his back side or bites his leg for hours at a time, there is something at work that should be dealt with. It could be fleas, an allergy or a neurological impulse to scratch for no good reason but that your dog is bored.
Whatever the case, tackle it head on, and if you can’t get him to stop, see your vet to rule out any medical causes.
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Akinluyi Jerry is a young entrepreneur, Animal lover, Dog Consultant and Security expert, CEO of Jeak’s kennel and securities. Certified dog behaviourist and Pro trainer with over 50 trained dogs, Popular Dog Columnist of ‘Jerryandyourdog’ with over 100 published articles, Member of international association of canine professionals (IACP) .A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile ife and National K9 School.