Help! My Dog is Scratching A Lot
Your dog has been scratching a lot more often: You’ve noticed him rubbing his front paw across his nose and using his back paw to scratch behind his ears and his Whistle smart device has sent notifications that scratching activities have increased. So, what’s causing all of the dog itching?
Most common causes of skin irritation in dogs
An increase in scratching behaviors is the number one reason people bring their dogs to the vet and there are a number of potential causes.
Food allergies: Up to two percent of dogs have food allergies—and an even higher number experience food sensitivities that can leave them with gas, diarrhea and itchy skin, especially around the ears, feet, stomach and backside.
Environmental allergies: Dust, grasses, pollen and mold are all common allergens that trigger dog scratching. An estimated 10 percent of dogs suffer with skin allergies, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. If there is a seasonal pattern to your dog’s frequent scratching, environmental allergies could be to blame.
Parasites: Fleas and other chewing insects crawling on your dog’s skin can lead to increased scratching and skin irritation on dogs—and flea allergies can make the problem worse. Dogs that scratch around the lower back, base of the tail, inner thighs and backside could have flea allergies. Dog dermatitis can also cause hair loss.
Dry skin: Dogs get dry skin, too. In addition to feeding a complete and balanced diet that has the right amount of fatty acids to nourish their skin, pet supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids could help.
When should I call the vet?
Occasional itchiness is not a cause for concern but compulsive scratching, licking or chewing warrants a call to the vet. Itchy skin isn’t just uncomfortable for your dog; it’s also one of the strongest indicators of dog skin infections or allergies.
Whistle is powered by Vet Insights, a powerful tool that can tell you if the scratching is elevated. If your device detects an increase in scratching behavior, use the Ask a Vet feature available in your Whistle app to schedule a chat, call, email or video consult with a vet to determine what’s causing the itchiness.
Remedies and Treatment for Itchy Skin in Dogs
When your Whistle device notices an increase in your dog’s scratching behavior, your first thought might be, “How do I get relief for my dog’s itchy skin?” The best dog itching remedies depends on the cause.
Limiting exposure to grasses and mold that trigger allergic reactions could help with dog hair loss and itching from environmental allergens. Your vet may also recommend allergy medications to help alleviate the seasonal symptoms and clear dog skin infections.
Grooming could help, too. Remember to choose shampoos designed to calm irritated skin on dogs.
A new diet could also be the solution to alleviating chronic itchiness for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities. Your vet can conduct a feeding trial to figure out which ingredients are causing a reaction and recommend an alternate food.
Parasite protection to prevent fleas and other parasites (or kill parasites that are causing your dog to scratch) are important. Once the parasites are killed, the itching should stop.
It’s important to pay attention to changes in your dog’s behavior. Your Whistle device will alert you if your dog is itching a lot, allowing you to take action and get relief when your dog won’t stop scratching.