If you’re a dog owner, you’ve likely seen your furry friend scratching or biting themselves from time to time. Occasional itching is normal for dogs, just as it is for humans, but when it becomes a persistent and uncomfortable issue, it can be cause for concern.
Itchy skin is one of the most common reasons pet owners take their dogs to the vet, and it can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, parasites, infections, and more. Not only can constant scratching be frustrating for dogs and their owners, but it can also lead to skin damage and infections if left untreated.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the causes of canine itching and explore effective ways to manage and prevent it.
What Are The Most Common Causes of Dog Scratching?
Parasites: Parasites can cause itching in dogs by biting or burrowing into the skin, laying eggs, or secreting chemicals that irritate the skin. Fleas are also a pest and are one of the most common parasites found in dogs. They, too, can cause severe itching.
Ticks and mites are two other types of parasites that can cause itching in dogs.
Skin Infections: When a dog scratches excessively, it can create small wounds on its skin, which can provide a portal of entry for bacteria or fungi. In some cases, the normal bacteria that live on the skin can overgrow and cause an infection.
There are different types of skin infections in dogs, including bacterial infections like pyoderma and fungal infections like ringworm. These infections can cause redness, itching, and hair loss and may even lead to the development of pus-filled bumps or blisters.
Allergies: Environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, and mold, are among the most common causes of allergies in dogs. Food allergies, although less common, can also cause itching and skin irritation.
Exposure of a dog to an allergen can trigger an excessive response from its immune system. This often results in the discharge of histamines and other substances that promote itching and inflammation.
Boredom: When dogs don’t get enough physical and mental stimulation, they have a tendency to become bored and restless. Some of the side effects include behaviors like excessive scratching, licking, and biting. Boredom is also known to cause skin irritation and lead to secondary skin infections.
What Steps Can You Take to Stop Your Dog From Itching?
The first step in stopping your dog from itching is to identify the underlying cause. This may involve a visit to the veterinarian to diagnose any underlying medical conditions or allergies. Once you have established the main cause, it becomes easier to treat them. Here are three ways that you can give your pet relief from itchiness.
1. Shampoos That Contain Oat Protein
According to Dr. Gary Richter, medical director of Holistic Veterinary Care, itching in dogs can be soothed by dog shampoos that contain oat proteins, tea tree oil, or aloe. Oat proteins are particularly known for their soothing and moisturizing properties, which can help alleviate dry, itchy skin and soothe any existing irritation.
They are also a natural, gentle cleanser that can help remove dirt, debris, and excess oils from your dog’s skin and coat without stripping away natural oils. Oat proteins are hypoallergenic, which means they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction in dogs with sensitive skin or allergies.
The fact that Oat proteins also contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties is also ideal since they help reduce redness on the skin.
2. Anti-Allergen Medication Like Apoquel
If your dog is experiencing severe itching, medication might sometimes be necessary. Many veterinarians prescribe Apoquel for dogs as it is shown to be effective in controlling itchiness and inflammation in dogs caused by allergic skin conditions.
According to PetRx, Apoquel is an anti-allergen that can provide relief from itching within four hours. One of the main benefits of Apoquel is that the impact on your dog’s immune system is low as it is not a steroid.
The active ingredient in Apoquel is oclacitinib, which belongs to a class of drugs known as Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors.
Allergic reactions often cause the release of chemicals like cytokines in the body.
These cytokines bind to receptors on cells in the skin, causing itching, redness, and inflammation. Apoquel works by blocking the activity of JAK enzymes, which are involved in the production of cytokines.
This reduces the inflammation and itchiness associated with allergic skin conditions. Apoquel is typically administered orally as a tablet, and its effects can be seen within 4 hours of the first dose. Of course, you want to ensure that you inform your veterinarian about any side effects you notice.
3. Regular Cleaning of Collars and Harnesses
Collars and harnesses can become dirty and accumulate bacteria, dirt, and oils from a dog’s skin and fur over time. This can cause irritation, itching, and discomfort, leading to potential skin infections and other health issues.
Cleaning a harness or collar is a relatively simple process. Depending on the material, owners can use warm soapy water or a pet-friendly cleaning solution to wash the item. You should then rinse it thoroughly and allow it to air dry completely before putting it back on the dog.
This is also a good time for you to check the item for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed edges or broken buckles, and replace it if necessary.
Persistent itching in dogs can be a frustrating and uncomfortable issue for both dogs and their owners. Due to the number of factors that may be responsible for itching, identifying the underlying cause becomes crucial.
Thankfully, itchiness in dogs isn’t as serious a problem for the most part. With just a little bit of care, both you and your dog can be stress-free and itch-free.