What is Constantly Itching?
Itching is a common behavior in dogs, from just a casual itch to an all-out “scratchfest”. You may notice your dog rubbing his face on things like walls, carpets, or furniture, trying to relieve an itch on his face. It may be a simple tickle on his nose, but he will continue until that tickle has been taken care of. It may also be a behavioral symptom. Your dog may scratch his ears or bite his feet due to boredom. The signs you will most likely notice are scratching, licking, face rubbing, hair loss, scabs or flaky skin, and biting parts of his body such as the feet, ears, and tail. Some of the most common reasons for constant itching include:
- Fleas or mites
- Dry skin
Why Constantly Itching Occurs in Dogs
Some common environmental reasons for itching are dry heat or lack of moisture, which causes dry skin. On the other hand, too much moisture in the air can cause hot spots (moisture eczema). This may be from being outside in the rain or snow. Make sure you let your dog indoors during rain and snow to prevent this from happening. Also, make sure to dry your dog well because prolonged moisture on the skin can cause bacteria to grow wild.
Just like humans, dogs need certain vitamins and nutrients to maintain healthy skin and coats. For example, imagine what your hair and skin would look like if you were seriously deficient in nutrients. Read the ingredients on your dog’s food and make sure he is getting a good amount of meat such as fish, lamb, chicken, or beef.
One of the most common causes of itching in dogs is fleas. In fact, most people with dogs automatically think their dog has fleas as soon as they see him scratch. Of course, there are plenty of other parasites that can cause itching in your dog such as mites (sarcoptic or cheyletiella), lice, ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, and flies.
There are many causes of allergy in dogs, just like humans. Allergies are the second most common cause of itching in dogs. Flea allergy dermatitis, food allergy, allergy to shampoo or other product, and allergy to mold, pollen, or grass are all possible reasons for itching. Additionally, if you feed your dog the same kind of food all the time, sometimes his immune system builds up a resistance to the protein or another ingredient.
- Flea allergy can be found in any breed at any age although dogs with long hair coats have a tendency to attract more fleas
- Food allergies are more common in Labrador Retrievers, West Highland White Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels; the ingredients that most often cause allergic responses are wheat, soy, corn, eggs, dairy, fish, pork, and beef
- Shampoo allergies are common because most owners tend to use too much shampoo (it is best to only use a small amount of shampoo especially made for dogs); talk to your veterinarian about what kind is best for your dog
- The Shar Pei, Fox Terrier, Golden Retriever, West Highland White Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Shih Tzu, Dalmatian, Lhasa Apso, Boston Terrier, and Labrador Retriever are more susceptible to inhalant allergies like pollen and mold
This is the worst type of itching because there is no known reason for your dog to be itching. In other words, it is a behavioral issue. Many dogs itch when they are nervous, bored, frustrated, or just because it is a habit.
Some of the infectious forms of itching in dogs include yeast, fungal, and bacterial infections such as ringworm and malassezia.
What to do if your Dog is Constantly Itching
Your dog’s itching may not be a reason to see the veterinarian. If it seems like your dog is just itching out of boredom or frustration, you could try taking him for a walk or playing fetch.
However, if you think your dog may have fleas or other parasites, an infection, or a hot spot, you should call your veterinarian and make an appointment. Some of the treatments your veterinarian may suggest are flea shampoo or topical ointment, ivermectin for other parasites and medicated shampoo to soothe itchy skin. Corticosteroids may also be an option to help get rid of the itching.
Prevention of Constantly Itching
To prevent itching, you should make sure your dog has a balanced diet free of preservatives and additives. If your dog is allergic to the food, he is eating, the veterinarian can suggest a special diet that will likely include a novel protein or a hypoallergenic food.
Keep your dog’s skin and coat clean and dry as much as possible and do not use too much shampoo when you bathe him. You should only bathe your dog about once or twice a month, although more often may be necessary if he gets extra dirty. Of course, this depends on your dog’s lifestyle. If he goes outside often, you may need to bathe him once a week or more. Be sure to use mild shampoo if that is the case.
Cost of Constantly Itching
The cost of relieving your dog’s itch depends on the reason for the itchiness and your pet's response to the initial treatment. The cost can range from $10 for a medicated shampoo up to $2500 for a veterinary visit and allergy tests, which can be very expensive. The national average of treating itchiness is approximately $500.
Worried about the cost of treating your pet's symptoms?
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