Why does my dog scratch so much?

April 13, 2012

A dog will not only be your friend and companion. The dog will also be the protector of the family. You may have taken great measures in choosing a dog with ideal temperament but you have to remember that no matter how well mannered your pet is, it is still a dog. Some unwanted behaviors are bound to surface at some point in the dog’s life. Dogs are intelligent creatures but they do not think the way we humans do. Your Fido will not understand what you want but you certainly can take the initiative to understand the meaning of your pet’s body language. Biting, chewing and scratching are the most common pastimes of dogs. Your role is not to suppress the natural urge of the dog but to understand the causes and to find ways to deal with the dog’s unwanted behavior. Dogs are naturally inclined to scratch but when the scratching becomes excessive you need to pay close attention not only because the scratching gets in your nerves but more importantly it is obvious that the itch makes the pet very uncomfortable. Excessive scratching can lead to skin irritations that would need medical attention. Dipping into your pocket for the vet’s fee and for the necessary medications can be prevented if you take the time to know what causes the pet to scratch.

There are various reasons why a dog would scratch. Severe itching can be caused by freeloaders. Fleas, ticks and mites can make your pet’s life very uncomfortable. Fleas and ticks can be seen easily but you would need a microscope to see the mites in your dog’s fur. Ticks and fleas would feed on the blood of your dog. Mites would burrow into the dog’s skin. Scratching will relieve the itching caused by these parasites but excessive scratching will result to hair loss and sores that can get infected. These parasites can be eliminated even without consulting a vet. Over the counter medications can effectively stop the infestation.

Excessive scratching can be due to allergies. Allergies to food and to allergens in the environment will make the dog itch all over. Contact dermatitis is another cause of skin irritations. Localized skin irritation will result when the skin gets in direct contact with offending or allergy causing substances. The dog can have itchy lesion on the neck where the skin gets in contact with the leather or metal collar. Avoiding contact with the offending substance will stop the dog from scratching. Severe itching that makes the dog scratch excessively can be due to dry skin. Nutrient deficiencies, frequent bathing and using harsh soaps and shampoos can dry the dog’s skin.

Dogs are social creatures thus they would need interaction with other dogs and with its human family. When was the last time you have taken the dog for a walk? When did you last played with the dog? Excessive scratching can be the dog’s way of gaining your attention or coping with a change in the environment. A new addition to the family or a new pet would get the family’s attention. Similar to the nail biting or hair twirling that anxious humans do, scratching can be the dog’s way of coping with anxiety. To resolve the dog’s compulsive scratching, you have to ensure that the pet receives attention and love from the family. Make sure that the dog is regularly given opportunities to exercise. Another dog would be a good idea as the pets would keep each other company. If another pet is not possible, provide the dog with toys that will prevent the dog from being stressed and bored and ultimately take its mind away from scratching.

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