A lot of dogs I’ve come across lately are itchy, and it is driving their owners bonkers!!!
I know the minute Billy starts scratching like crazy and then biting his tail, that he has a flea. It only takes 1 for him to go crazy because he’s not use to having them.
We recently fed my cousins dog while they were away and he gets itchy. Some of my customers come in saying their dog must have a flea because they won’t stop scratching, only to find nothing on them.
It’s uncomfortable for our fur babies to constantly scratch and it’s upsetting for us to see them this way. Many will find yelling at them to stop scratching doesn’t work either.
Finding the cause of the itch is a process of elimination.
I always check for fleas first!! Like Billy, if your dog isn’t use to having fleas it may only take 1 pesky flea to drive them nuts. Some dogs are also allergic to flea bites, which can cause them to also start biting themselves.
I can’t stand fleas and I don’t understand why they even exist except to drive our fur babies crazy!!!!
They are tiny black living creatures that can come from places like the grass, the dirt or other animals and they crawl all over your dog. They leave a black dirt like substance all over them which is flea poo and flea eggs. When washing your dog a dark orange to red tinge comes out in the water.
For a much more in depth explanation on THE FLEA read the Wikipedia definition here!
There are soooooo many flea prevention products on the market now it’s confusing about what to use. Searching reviews of the products can drive you crazy as well because some people rave about products whereas others will condemn that same product.
You’ve got to chose what’s best for YOUR DOG! You can ask other dog owners what they use and you can always ask a trusted vet. To name just a few product types out there you’ll find – flea shampoos (won’t stop them from jumping back on your dog long term), flea collars, flea sprays, flea powders, topical flea products and oral flea products!!!
If however, you don’t want to use these products there is always the natural remedy path. With this path though I find you just have to apply the remedy more often (which is fine because it’s not as harsh for your dog).
What you use will also depend on whether your dog is covered in fleas or whether they just have a few.
On A Side Note – also treat the surrounding areas such as your dogs bedding, kennel, carpets and lounges, anywhere your dog has been.
I liken fleas on dogs to nits on kids – treat everywhere and everything until you know it’s all gone.
In Spring and Summer, my parent’s dog Cleo use to lay spread out on the cement and rub her stomach up and down until it was raw (obviously we’d take her to the vet for this). We found out that she was allergic to a seed in the grass that’s produced around that time of year.
It doesn’t matter what grass it is, if your dog is allergic to your grass you’ll definitely know about it in spring time. It doesn’t mean you have to pull up your grass it just means you’ll have to manage your dog’s allergy.
It will depend on how bad the scratching is. Cleo use to have to get a cortisone injection from the vet. Some people give their dog’s an antihistamine, but before doing this I’d check with your vet. When giving dog’s human medications you’ve got to be really careful with dosage.
I had to give Billy some Zyrtec once because (being a white staffy) he came up all bright pink on his belly. He had 1 per day until it went away and I only had to give him 3 over 3 days. Every case is different though, so proceed with caution and do your research.
With my cousins dog all they were given was a shampoo (a brand that dries the skin out anyway which doesn’t help) to wash him in. This is not working. I’ve since advised them to try something else.
This is also a seasonal itch so you may only have to manage the allergy in the warmer months only. It’s a great idea to keep a diary of when your dog gets itchy as well.
On a Side Note – check whether your dog is running through any plants in the garden, sitting under trees that drop sap or any other substance that could also be making them itchy.
There’s all sorts of ingredients in dog food and our food (that we give to our dogs) that can be causing your dog to itch like crazy.
A customer of mine got her little dog Bub’s tested because she would rub herself silly, up and down the ledge of the bricks on the outside window, any where she could she’d be rubbing herself silly. It turns out she was allergic to yeast, so my customer had to pretty much change her diet completely.
Some of the most common foods that can cause allergies are – beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit and fish.
If your dog has no fleas and is ALWAYS itching (so it doesn’t appear to be a seasonal itch) then the next place to look at is their food.
According to PetMD some general signs are – itching all over the body, sometimes focussing more on the ears and feet. Recurring ear and skin infections as well as excessive gas, or vomiting or diarrhoea.
If you’re unsure, take your dog to the vet to have allergy tests. It will depend on which vet you go to as to how much it will cost.
If you’re feeding your dog canned food, change their diet to something more nutritional, meat and vegetables made at home by you. However, don’t change it immediately change it over a 7 day period where you feed them less and less of the canned food and more and more of their new food.
Check the ingredients of their canned food and dry food. If you’re not sure this post on 6 Must Have Ingredients covers what to look for on dog food labels.
Your vet may recommend a more suitable diet. You could try a raw diet but again a slow introduction is a best way to give new food.
Make sure no-one else in the household is feeding the dog food they shouldn’t be. We all mean well but sometimes we can be causing issues in our dogs by giving them a small biscuit or piece of toast etc. You know what I mean, we all do it!!!
On A Side Note – I make Billy’s food that way I know what goes into it and being a white staffy he’s not an itchy dog (only when we find 1 flea).
Anxiety in dogs is becoming more and more common. Excessive itching and scratching in our dogs is one way for them to release it, just as some people may bite their nails.
A change in family energy can cause your dog to become anxious, as well as situations they aren’t fond of, they can have separation anxiety while the family is away!! There are many reasons why your dog may be anxious, another being boredom.
Here is an article from PetMD that may help you understand Anxiety in our dogs more and how to deal with it.
On a Side Note – Here’s Joey’s Story!
One of my customer’s dogs Joey has been fine for all his grooming visits thus far, however the last time I saw him he was wearing a cone collar and his feet were all swollen!!!
I asked what had happened and they said over the last few months he’d been obsessively licking his paws to the point of them being badly swollen.
I also asked what had changed in the family dynamic. It turns out the wife had had a fall and hurt her hip so was away in hospital for a bit and then when she got home she told me she became depressed.
His mum also mentioned to me that he’s a very smart active little dog. Also because of her bad hip she couldn’t walk him and her son’s work had taken off so he was no longer doing so! This got me thinking from Joey’s perspective.
Long story short my conclusion (I’m not a vet) was that Joey had picked up the change in the energy of the house and this was his way of dealing with it. As well as not being taken for walks he’d become bored and maybe even a little depressed himself.
While the cone collar and medication will help the topical issue. For his mental state I suggested they build a little agility course for him in the back yard out of different things they could find so he had to get his way around them, i.e. solve problems. I also suggested they put his dry food in a ball or some form of container that causes him to think of how to get it out.
Watch your dog’s behaviour, have they only just started scratching? Look back at what happened around the time the itching starting, did something occur in the family or a change in household? Did something change in your dog’s life around the time the itching started?
Is your dog bored? Does your dog need more mental stimulation, walks can do this, there’s toys for generating mental stimulation as well as playing with your dog, making them hunt for their treats etc.
Once you can pinpoint what changes occurred in your dog’s environment to cause the itching/scratching then you can put processes in place to change the behaviour.
If you can’t manage to figure it out, you may need to seek a trusted Dog Behaviourist, as well as seek Vet advice to rule out any medical conditions etc. As in Joey’s case a vet can treat the symptoms a Dog Behaviourist can help you change their habits.
This is another area to look at especially if your dog is an inside dog. Dogs are constantly on the floor, so it could be a floor cleaner that’s being used causing the itching.
What washing powder’s are you using and are you washing the dog’s bedding and blankets in it? Or have you recently changed to a different product?
It’s always important to be aware of the chemicals used around the flooring and bedding areas (even if they sleep on your bed or the carpet beside your bed etc) because this could be effecting your dog.
Have you recently shampooed the carpets what chemical was used or is always used when doing this? Do you have blankets all over your lounges, what do they get washed in?
Are fleas in the carpet? Are you using an oil in your diffuser that could be causing your dog to scratch? Do you spray your carpets or furniture with something to make it smell nice, but it could be actually driving your dog nuts?
There are so many questions to ask here.
The best thing to do is be aware of what products you are using around the house and how your dog reacts to them.
On A Side Note – If you can, get down on your hands and knees and crawl around your house. Yes I”m serious because this is the perspective your dog has of the area in which you live.
Bedding is important because this is where your fur baby sleeps. Some people I know use Hessian Bags for their dog’s bed and I know for some dogs this drives them to scratch like crazy because of the material they’re made of.
As mentioned above, make sure your dog’s bedding (anywhere they sleep) and kennel is rid of fleas. If they sleep inside, do the same here and use a natural non harsh washing powder/detergent when washing their blankets etc.
Make sure their bedding isn’t a harsh itchy material.
On A Side Note – if you’re not sure whether your dog’s bedding is a harsh material or not, rub it on your bare skin and see how it makes your feel?
Dry skin in anyone is itchy. Dean recently (stupidly) got sunburnt at the beach and his skin became dry and itchy and flaked off, it’s a no brainer.
Here are some images of what Dry Skin can look like.
There’s many reasons why, here are just a few common ones, washing your dog too much, dandruff, food, fleas, excessive scratching, cold weather, infections etc.
If in doubt seek medical advice.
I also suggest a fish oil (Omega 3-6-9) , but again I’m not a vet, so seek medical advice. There are topical treatments (creams to put on the skin) but I like to go the natural way and start naturally and internally. There are also soft oatmeal and lanolin shampoos to use and some soft conditioners if need by.
It will depend on the severity of the dryness that needs to be taken into account.
Do your research.
Hot spots when in their finest form are nasty and terrible for your dog to experience. It’s like a red moist dermatitis that’s commonly found on the head, chest and hip areas. Images of what Hot Spots look like.
By starting off with extreme itching, scratching and biting as well as licking (caused by any of the above). The licking keeps it moist and spreads it if it’s not treated.
I always say prevention is better than the cure so, try to stop the itching in the first place by addressing all of the above issues.
If however it happens, the best way is to head to the vet.
There are many many articles that come up when searching how to treat them at home, just be aware. Do your research and when in doubt go to the vet.
Our dogs have skin and it’s going to itch at some time or another, just as ours does.
It’s the excessive itching and scratching that we want to be aware of and avoid.
It takes patience and going through a process of elimination to find out what is causing your dog to itch excessively.
Be aware of your dog’s behaviour, diarise it if you have to, just to keep note of seasonal itching or anxiety itching or boredom itchiness. Also note down any changes in food, or household products as well as energy shifts in the house (as in Joey’s story).
Billy and I hope this helps with conquering any itchiness that maybe driving you and your fur baby nuts.
Have you had to deal with any itchiness in your fur baby? How did you deal with it, we’d love to hear from you? Drop us a comment.
J & B @ Woofalicious Tales