Your dog can’t tell you when something is wrong, so look out for odd behaviors, such as consistent chewing or scratching. There are many things that can cause these behaviors, so let’s get to the core of why your dog is itching.
If you notice any abnormal behaviors exhibited by your dog, talk with your vet immediately. It may be as simple as allergies, or as severe as mites or a torn ACL. There are some home remedies you can try before calling your vet, but if they do not work, we at Doggy Brace advise you seek professional veterinary advice.
One of the most common reasons that can cause your dog to itch its head, chest, stomach, or hips are allergies. It can be from something they ate (or their regular food), household irritants such as dust or cleaning products, or from seasonal changes. When exposed to something they’re allergic to, a dog can develop a skin irritation (dermatitis).
Dogs can be allergic to pesticides, certain soaps, pollen, grass, mold, dust, mites, and more! Some allergies may be seasonal and others can persist year-round.
Treating an allergy can be as simple as giving your dog a bath to wash away the irritant from their skin, cleaning your home, or wiping off their feet and belly when they come inside. If that doesn’t help, talk with your vet. They may have to administer a steroid shot to give your pup some relief.
Boredom or Anxiety
Dogs will often exhibit destructive behavior, such as chewing or scratching, when they are overly bored or anxious. It’s exactly like how you may chew your nails, twirl your hair, or kick your leg; your dog expresses themself in the same non-verbal way.
Thankfully, helping a dog cope with boredom is usually simple. Schedule an extra playtime during the day, go on a longer walk with them, and give them plenty of enrichment, such as toys or teach them tricks.
Anxiety is a little harder. Keep an eye on your dog and try to find the root of the problem. If they have separation anxiety, consider crate-training them for when you are gone, keeping the radio on, or coming home during your lunch break. A crate creates a safe space for them to relax while playing music can help reduce the silence or drown out the sound of outside stimuli.
Like dry skin is itchy and scratchy for you, it is for dogs too. Dry skin for dogs has similar causes too: the winter weather, cold air, fatty acid deficiencies, or too much scratching.
If it’s not a chronic condition, treatment is relatively easy. You can give your dog a bath with non-drying agents and moisturizing shampoo, give them vitamins, or rub coconut oil on the dry patches. Avoid using lotion, unless it is specifically created for dogs and anything that provides excessive heat, such as a hairdryer.
It’s possible that a hormone imbalance is causing skin irritation. Ask your vet if your dog may be deficient in thyroid hormones or if their body is creating too much cortisol. You may notice bald spots, and your dog may scratch or lick as if bothered by allergies.
Your vet will be able to offer treatment options, though coconut oil may be able to help soothe their irritated skin.
It is very possible that your dog is scratching or pawing at an area that is causing them pain. For instance, you may see your dog scratching at their shoulder, kicking at their knee, or chewing on the same areas.
A vet should be able to identify if your dog’s scratching is caused by an injury. If it is an ACL or leg issue, consider using a dog leg brace as a conservative treatment. The brace comfortably restricts movement while supporting their limb, which alleviates their pain.
If your dog has a sprained ACL, they will avoid putting weight on their injury, but they may not necessarily avoid touching it. It’s similar to how you may touch a burn or a scratch a sunburn — touching it provides temporary relief.
Another common cause of irregular scratchings is parasites. Fleas, ticks, and mites are small critters that live in your dog’s fur, burrow into their skin, and can cause skin irritation and more medical problems. Ticks are often visible, but fleas are often too small to notice until there is a large manifestation of them, and mites are microscopic.
Talk with a vet, otc options like Frontline, flea baths and brushes can work too. Be sure to sanitize your living area to kill all pests that may be residing there too.