Looking for a way to stop dog scratching? Read on to learn how to address this common problem.
It is a problem that affects millions of dogs and if you’re reading this you’re likely one of the millions of dog owners looking for a way to stop dog scratching.
When a dog scratches continually, the automatic assumption is that he has fleas. This may well be the case, and often is, but there are many other possibilities, ranging from allergies, to compulsive behavior.
Whatever the reason, it should be addressed immediately as chronic scratching can lead to hot spots, infections, and other skin problems.
Why is my Dog Scratching?
There are a number of possible reasons why your dog is constantly scratching, and you need to identify the cause before you can stop dog scratching.
Parasites – Parasites including ticks, fleas, flies, gnats, and mites are the most common cause of persistent scratching. There are very effective medications that your vet can recommend.
Infections – An infection could be the caused by bacteria, yeast, or fungi. Tell-tale signs are greasy sores, hairless patches, or red swelling.
Allergies – Many dogs suffer from allergies and can have allergic reactions to food, fleas, dust, plants and other substances, all of which can lead to to severe itching.
Nutritional – If a dog suffers from a lack of the right nutrients, they can suffer from dry skin, eczema, and other skin lesions. A simple change of diet can address this problem.
Environmental – Swimming, digging, and rolling in the grass can all cause itchiness. If your dog swims in the pool make sure that you hose him down afterwards to remove chlorine, which dries the skin.
Neurogenic – This is the most difficult cause to address and often occurs in dogs that are under exercised or lack mental stimulation. They develop a nervous issue which leads to compulsive licking and chewing at their coat and skin.
Before you can stop dog scratching, consider which of these causes is the most likely culprit in the case of your dog.
Start by taking your dog to the vet for a thoroughly check-up. In most cases the vet will be able to zero in on the problem and prescribe the necessary medications.
These could include antibiotics, anti-fungal cream or antihistamines depending on the cause. The vet may also recommend a change of diet, or a flea treatment to help stop dog scratching.
Dealing with Neurogenic Scratching
If the cause is physical, it is relatively easy to stop dog scratching. However, it gets more difficult if the cause is neurogenic.
The first thing you have to do is pinpoint why your dog might feel the need to constantly scratch and bite at his skin.
Ask yourself (and answer honestly) whether your dog gets enough exercise. All dogs need at least an hour of physical activity a day, and for more active breeds like Border Collies or Dalmatians, this should be at least two hours.
Make sure this includes a walk, as patrolling their territory is natural canine behavior. Also include mental stimulation through games and training.
Bored dogs often develop a nervous compulsion to continuously scratch and lick, so by increasing your dog’s physical and mental stimulation you should address this problem.
You may want to, at the same time, use ‘shock tactics’ like putting bitter apple spray on your dog’s favourite licking spots. Or ask your vet for a cone to prevent your dog from reaching those itchy spots.
However, these measures should be used in addition to increasing your dog’s physical activity, not instead of it. Once the dog has a more active exercise routine, you can remove the cone or the spray, and the habit should be broken.
As a dog owner you need to pay close attention any signs of distress in your dog. Constant itching and scratching is not a minor ailment and is extremely uncomfortable and potential dangerous for your dog.
The good news is that most of the time, it is fairly easy to stop dog scratching.