How to Stop Your Dog Scratching

Itchy dogs are all too common. Itching can be an indication of many different skin diseases so, without a good examination, it can be very difficult to pinpoint exactly what is wrong.

So what can you do for your dog at home? Ideally, you should visit your vet for a correct diagnosis, but you can start by ruling out a few things yourself.

  • Keeping a diary of the itching in relation to the dog's movements can be useful for discovering the source of the allergen.
  • Make sure you use a good flea control. Most of the monthly spot-on treatments, such as Frontline Plus, Advantage and Revolution, should be adequate. If you have other dogs or cats, treat them as well to prevent fleas jumping from untreated animals back onto your itchy dog. It may also be necessary to vacuum or flea bomb your house and wash your dog's bedding to get those fleas under control.
Causes of itching
Some of the more common causes of
itching in dogs and cats are:
  • Fleas; either the fleas themselves or an allergic reaction to fleas called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD).
  • Other allergies, including inhaled allergies, contact allergies and food allergies.
  • Parasites, such mites and lice and sometimes even flies.
  • Seborrhea, an over-secretion of the skin glands causing flaky or greasy skin.
Stop your dog scratching
Petshed's most popular anti-scratching treatments are right here:
  • Advantix
  • Advantage
  • Try a different diet. Beef allergies are not uncommon, so you could switch the dog to a different protein source such as fish or chicken. There are commercial allergy diets available or you could make up a home-made meal. Keep your dog on the diet for at least eight weeks before assessing whether it is beneficial. Make sure that your dog does not get any other treats containing allergens during this time, including meaty heartworm preventatives.
  • Shampooing can be another good way of removing allergens from the dog's skin. There are many shampoos available which are hypoallergenic and contain soothing ingredients, such as oatmeal or aloe vera. Depending on the dog, it may be necessary to
    bathe every day, but usually no more than twice a week.
  • Hot water can worsen the itching sensation so a tepid bath may be more soothing. However be careful not to give your dog a chill in winter. There are also shampoos which help treating bacterial and fungal infections or to remove scaly skin (doggy dundruff). Many of these are available without a prescription.
  • Fish oils containing omega fatty acids can also be given as nutritional supplements to reduce the inflammation in the skin. These too are available without prescription.

If the itching doesn't respond to these treatments, your veterinarian may wish to carry out further tests to identify what is causing the itching. These tests can include scraping the skin for mites, taking skin biopsies, sticky tape preparations for fungi, a UV (Woods) lamp for ringworm, or allergy skin or blood tests.

Once they have a cause, a more definitive treatment will be recommended, often incorporating the above-mentioned therapies in addition to other medications.