Does it seem as if your dog never seems to stop scratching and chewing at his skin? The best way to find out what is needed to prevent this is to gain a better understand what is causing him to itch in the first place. While the odd itch and resulting scratch are not really much of a problem, constant scratching can lead to hot spots, infections, and other more complex medical conditions that require more serious treatment. The best thing you can do is prevent the cause of the itching in the first place.
As a pet owner, it is your job to do everything in your power to keep your dog healthy and happy. One thing is for sure, if your dog is constantly itching and having to scratch at himself, he is not going to be happy.
Causes and Prevention of Itching Skin in Dogs
There are several different reasons why your dog's skin might become so itchy that he can't seem to stop scratching at himself. Most of these conditions are easily preventable, but many pet owners are not aware of them and have no idea their pet could have a problem until it becomes serious enough that they need veterinary care. Here are three of the most common reasons why your dog's skin might become itchy.
Fleas, Fleas, Fleas
Of all the reasons why your dog might suffer from itchy skin, fleas and their bites are probably the most common and in most cases, the easiest to prevent. The bad part is that your dog may have fleas even when you can't seem to find any on him. The only ones you are likely to be able to see are the adults and they only account for 5 percent of the total flea population living on your dog's skin.
Applying a topical flea treatment on a monthly basis (or as recommended by your vet and the manufacturer's instructions) is the best thing you can do to prevent itchy skin resulting from flea bites. Not only do these treatments kill adult fleas, they also kill off the larvae and eggs, putting an end to the constant cycle of going from egg to adult flea. Proper usage of these products offers a long-term solution to your dog's itchy skin.
Whether you can see fleas on your dog or not, they are likely to be there. If you are not sure what kind of treatment to use, contact your vet, as he has a much larger selection of flea prevention medications and treatments to work with. Remember, even one single flea on your dog's body is too many, as female fleas can lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Simply giving your dog a flea bath is not enough as this is only a short-term solution.
Hay Fever Can Cause Itchy Skin
Hay fever or atopy is defined as an allergy to inhaled allergens. While your dog may not sit around with his eyes and nose running sneezing his head off, he is still quite susceptible to hay fever. If your dog seems to be itching all over his body rather than in one or two spots, this could be an indication that he has hay fever. Other symptoms of hay fever can include your dog constantly licking and chewing his feet and frequent ear infections.
Prevention of hay fever and the accompanying itchy skin can be challenging. Your first step should be to contact your vet if you suspect your dog may be suffering from hay fever. Your vet should have you bring the dog into his office for a complete checkup and allergy testing.
From this, he will be able to recommend possible treatments that may offer relief from the allergies and the accompanying itching. This is typically a longer-term preventative treatment as it can take time for the vet to determine the best treatment and for any medication he prescribes to take effect.
If the allergies are from coming into contact with certain items, start by trying to determine what is causing the reaction and either keep your dog away from it or remove it from your home or yard. This is a short-term solution as you will still need to take your dog to the vet for testing and determining the most effective long-term solution.
Chances are good that if your dog has food allergies, it isn't the warm weather that is making him itch. It is something that he is eating, which many vets say is a good indication that he may have a food allergy. The good news is that this may be one of the easiest ways to stop your dog's skin from itching.
Prevention starts with trying to determine what your dog is eating that is causing him to itch. If you have just changed his food, look at the labels on both his old and new food. Take note of any ingredients in the new food that are not in the old one. Try switching back to his old food and seeing if the itching goes away. Depending on why you made the change in his food, you may have to switch back on a permanent basis or look for a food that does not contain ingredients he is allergic to.
You can also take your dog in to see his vet for allergy testing to try and determine exactly what he is allergic to. This is a good long-term solution as it will allow you to find foods that he isn’t allergic to and won't cause him to have itchy skin.
Importance of Preventing Itchy Skin
The most obvious effect of prevention is that your dog will no longer have to deal with the incessant itching that any of the above situations can cause. But there is more to it than simply stopping the itching. If your dog constantly scratches at his skin, he is at risk of creating hot spots, deep scratches in his skin, and bacterial and fungal infections, both of which are considered very serious medical conditions.
As with most medical problems for dogs, the more time and effort you invest in preventing the itching in the first place, the less likely it will be that you have to take your dog to the emergency clinic and deal with its accompanying fees.
Along with reduced vet bills, keeping your dog's skin from itching will result in a much happier and healthier dog. Also, if the itching is caused by fleas or other parasites, getting rid of them will help keep your home much cleaner with far less effort. This, of course, results in everybody being much happier and healthier.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
While there are many different causes of itchy skin in dogs, the majority of them are easily overcome. If you are not sure what to do, take your dog in to be seen by his vet for a complete checkup. This will let your vet work with you to create a long-term plan of action that will help keep your dog’s skin much healthier and free of the many reasons why he might be scratching himself constantly.