There are many reasons why dogs scratch – this blog takes a look at 4 causes of dog itching to help you spot and soothe the itchy urge.
Wondering ‘why is my dog itching’?
4 common causes of dog scratching explored
Many of our dogs love a good scratch behind the ears – but what causes dog itching, and how can you tell if they start to scratch excessively? In this blog we take a closer look at what’s happening when your dog feels itchy – and how you can soothe the urge and help to reduce excessive scratching.
Itchy dog – spotting the signs
Spotting the itching dog sounds simple – but sometimes it's a bit more complicated than you think. As well as the typical scratch-with-the-hind-leg, dogs respond to itches in other ways, including:
- Do they nibble at their skin?
- Do they lick their paws?
- Maybe they rub their face or body on furniture?
- Have they got bald patches?
- Or do they get lots of ‘hot spots’ (pyoderma)?
These are all symptoms of irritated, itchy skin – so what’s happening when your dog gets the urge to itch, and can you help?
Why is your dog itching?
There are many reasons why dogs itch and scratch, so let’s take a closer look at some of the more common ones to help you spot what might be going on.
Fleas, ticks and mites
Even the cleanest dogs can pick up fleas and ticks if you forget to regularly apply appropriate treatment. In the case of pests, prevention is the best approach. We use a spot-on treatment, and keep track of how often we need to reapply by setting a calendar reminder every 4 weeks. And if fleas have already entered your home, there’s a guide to beating the pesky biters here. Other itchy pests to watch out for include harvest mites, dust mites and ear mites. There’s advice to spot and avoid harvest mites here – though when it comes to ear mites or a dust mite problem, you’ll need to pop to the vets for expert help.
Another itchy nasty is mange. There are two kinds of mange: sarcoptic mange (or ‘canine scabies’), and demodectic mange. Both are caused by mites, and call for a trip to the vets for treatment if your dog is itchy – usually this will take the form of medication given orally or applied topically, or using a shampoo or dip.
Environmental allergies or sensitive skin
One of the most common causes of itching is environmental factors. Just like people, dogs can have sensitive skin. And these dogs are more likely to react to ‘triggers’ – that’s things in their environment like:
- Pollen – yes, dogs can get hayfever too!
- Plants and grasses
- Dust mites
- Cleaning products like laundry detergent
Contact with these irritants causes your dog’s skin to feel itchy, which leads to scratching and nibbling. If this is prolonged, it can cause skin damage and hair loss – some dogs scratch themselves raw – which makes them uncomfortable, and damages their coats.
Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to help your dog if their itches are due to environmental factors. Start by avoiding their triggers – where practical – then boost their skin’s defences by adding an Omega 3 & 6 supplement like YuMEGA Itchy Dog to their food. One of the most common sensitivities is pollen. And as walkies is obviously an essential that no-one wants to avoid, we’ve written a guide to help you manage your dog’s hayfever here.
Dietary sensitivities and allergies
Another reason dogs may be itchy is diet. As well as upset tums, dietary sensitivities can lead to itchy skin, a dull coat, paw nibbling, and even hot spots. Dogs can be sensitive to lots of different ingredients, including:
- Meats like lamb and beef
- Colourings and flavourings
There’s advice on understanding food sensitivities – and helping your dog get back on top form – in this article about dogs with sensitive digestion.
More ways to help itching dogs
Of course, there are many reasons why dogs itch and scratch and we haven’t covered everything here. If you’re concerned about your itching dog, we’d always recommend a trip to the vet. And you might also be interested in the second of our itchy dog series – how to reduce your dog’s scratching.
Do you have a dog who’s prone to feeling itchy? How do you help to soothe the urge to scratch? Maybe you’ve found an amazing shampoo, or a have a top tip you’d like to share? Please do leave a comment and share with our community.