By Dwight Alleyne
If you have a dog, you may have seen them scratch or nibble at themselves occasionally. Sometimes they do this out of boredom or if there is a temporary itch. However, if they seem to do it too frequently, that may mean something else is going on. In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons your dog may be exhibiting this behavior and recommend ways to provide relief to your itchy pet.
What Is Causing My Dog’s Scratching?
While it is not always obvious, there can be clues as to why your dog keeps scratching. Location is key. Where they are scratching or nibbling on their body can be one way to determine the root of the issue.
Scratching at the ear
Ear scratching could indicate some type of ear infection. One common cause of ear infections is yeast — yeast infections can develop when moisture gets trapped in the ears. Routine cleaning of the ears (check out Skout’s Honor Probiotic Ear Cleaner that helps protect your pet’s microbiome) and removal of excessive hair can help minimize these infections. Obvious signs to look for are redness of the ears or debris in them.
Chewing at the paws
Gnawing and nibbling at the paws is a sign that your dog may be allergic to something in the environment. Many dogs can be sensitive to grasses, leaves or pollen they come in contact with, especially during the warmer months. You may try cleaning your dog's paws more regularly and thoroughly during baths.
Chewing or scratching near the rear
One thing you may not realize is that fleas like to congregate near the tail area of your dog. So if your dog is constantly chewing near the tail, it is possible that these little critters may be the cause. Another possibility could also be an issue with the anal glands. The anal glands are located at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock position near the rectum. These glands are normally supposed to empty when dogs defecate, but in some dogs they can become impacted. The impaction can cause discomfort and chewing near the area.
Scratching at the body
If your dog keeps scratching at their body, it could mean any of the things we have mentioned previously. But dry skin can also play a role in increased itchiness. Just like us, environmental conditions such as cold and dry air can promote skin irritation and inflammation.
How Can I Provide Relief to My Dog?You’re probably wondering how to provide relief for your dog if he is constantly scratching and biting himself. The good news there are some great options to help soothe your itchy companion based on what is causing the issue. Since the skin is home to a combination of good and bad bacteria, when irritation occurs bad bacteria can take over, leading to inflammation.
The first line of defense is restoring the good bacteria to the skin. This can be accomplished through topical products containing beneficial probiotics, such as Skout’s Honor shampoos, conditioners and sprays. These products can help return your dog’s skin to normalcy, leading to decreased itchiness and drying and increased comfort.
It is also important that you keep your pet on a monthly flea preventative while regular grooming may help ensure that your pet’s fur and skin remain healthy. Also, anal gland expression is often routine for grooming protocols if your pet is excessively licking the area.
As you can see, you don’t have to let your scratchy dog suffer. Between the quality, clean products from Skout’s Honor and grooming your dog regularly, you can provide your pet the relief they need. Please remember to consult your veterinarian for any skin condition that is not improving in your dog.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne is a veterinarian who has over a decade of experience treating cats and dogs. He is also the creator of the Animal Doctor Blog, where he provides general health advice and pet-product reviews.