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Help! Why is my dog scratching?

Help! Why is my dog scratching?

Dog itching, scratching, and licking are signs that your pooch is being tormented by an uncomfortable skin condition. Today our Albany vets explain what could be causing your dog's skin problems and how you can help your canine companion feel better.

Reasons Why Dog's Scratch

Inevitably most dogs will encounter itchy skin at some point. In most cases, the conditions that cause dog scratching are irritating for your canine companion but not serious. However, some dog skin conditions do need to be seen by a vet and will require treatment to prevent them from becoming more severe.

    Dog Skin Problems That Can Cause Itching & Scratching

    There are a number of fairly common reasons why your pooch may start scratching, licking or biting at their fur, including:

    Parasitic Bites
    • Bites from parasites. such as fleas and mites are one of the most common sources of itching in dogs, and one of the easiest to treat. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to resolve the parasite issue and soothe itchy skin. That said, you may want to consider proactively giving your dog medication to avoid fleas, mites, or ticks in the first place.
    Environmental Dermatitis
    • This is a skin issue is caused when the dog comes into contact with certain substances, such as grass, dirt, and plants, that they are sensitive to. Symptoms include itchy/dry or cracked skin, rashes, blisters, redness, or swelling. Suggested ways to alleviate this condition include antihistamines from your vet or oatmeal baths (never give your dog medications formulated for humans since many are toxic to dogs). Your vet may recommend a cortisone cream or other alternative depending on the severity.
    Nutritional Dermatitis
    • While relatively rare, it is not unheard of for dogs to experience an allergic reaction to something in their food. Nutritional dermatitis generally results in skin irritations and scratching, but digestive issues could also result, such as diarrhea or vomiting. If your dog is displaying either type of symptom, it's best to make an appointment with your vet.
    Skin Allergies
    • Some dogs are prone to allergies, making this a somewhat common reason to visit the vet. Allergens that cause itching can be found in pollen, dander, plants or insects, among other things. Some of the most common symptoms of skin allergies in dogs aside from itching include excessive grooming or licking, watery eyes and sneezing, rashes, and inflamed skin. Your vet may be able to diagnose what is causing the allergy and can recommend treatment as well as other ways to prevent future allergic reactions.
    • Another type of allergic reaction is hives. Hives can be a reaction to many things, from bites or medications. Symptoms are characterized by a raised bump that would cause the dog's fur to stick out. Occasionally, hives will present with swelling near the eyes. Using a hypoallergenic shampoo for dogs will usually alleviate the condition. A hydrating leave-in conditioner may also help. Ask your vet what they recommend for your pet.

    Urgent Cases

    If your dog's itch skin persists for more than a few days, you should make an appointment so your vet can diagnose the issue and treat it. Prolonged itching can lead to excessive scratching and biting at the site of the itch which can result in a self-inflicted injury. This can become serious if left treated. 

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    Is your dog tormented by itchy skin? Our Albany vets have experience diagnosing and treating many dog skin problems. Contact us to book an appointment for your canine companion.

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