The most common complaint in dogs, after digestive issues, is skin allergies or irritations. Of course, it is quite reasonable to see your dog having a scratch now and again but what do you do when it gets more consistent? Why is your dog scratching so much and how do you stop it?
Scratching in dogs needs to be addressed as it typically indicates a more serious complaint. If left untreated it may progress to licking, biting or even chewing the area. This can lead to a loss of fur and flesh wounds which you must try and avoid.
There are various reasons your dog may have irritated skin. We take a look at the primary ones and how you can address them:
1. Dog Scratching: Skin condition
If your dog is shedding more than usual or has visibly dry, flaky skin then it is highly likely that your dog has a skin condition. Factors that contribute to this include weather, central heating, hormones or stress. By process of elimination, you can usually tell what might be causing the skin irritation. If the seasons have changed, the weather has got warmer or colder, or if you have just put the heating back on, these could all be contributing to the problem. Many skin conditions can be controlled by what you are feeding your dog. Feeding a raw diet which includes fats and oils is an excellent place to start. Many dog foods contain lots of processed, starchy foods. This can cause yeast infections and itchy skin.
2. Dog Scratching: Parasites
Parasites are a common cause of scratching in dogs, the most obvious offender being fleas. One of the first tell-tale signs of fleas is your dog having a good old scratch. At first, you may not notice anything out of the ordinary, but very soon the itching will intensify as the fleas grow in number. The way to tell if your dog has fleas is to examine the area between the hind legs. Turn your dog onto their back and have a look in the areas around the tops of the legs and belly. If fleas are present you will see them crawling around, or you will see brown flecks – this is flea excrement. There are many valid ways to treat fleas – some are more effective than others, but we recommend talking to your vet about the most suitable remedy for your dog.
3. Dog Scratching: Allergies
If your dog has an allergy, it could be caused by many things. Pollen and grass is sometimes a cause of allergies in dogs, but diet is often the most significant factor, especially in specific breeds. We recommend you try an elimination diet. This means removing all treats from the dogs diet and starting with one particular meat. Try chicken for two weeks without adding anything else. If the problem seems to be dissipating then, in the third week, you can start adding other foods. Gradually keep adding different varieties until you are confident the issue is resolved. If the problem returns suddenly then remove the last meal that you introduced. Many people find a raw diet is the key to a healthier, less itchy dog!
There are other contributing factors to itchy, flaky skin. If a dog is in pain, they will likely scratch the affected area. If you are in any doubt at all, then we recommend consulting your vet for a professional diagnosis.
Try giving your dog a complete raw dog food diet. Many people (and their dogs) find that the complete raw diet “Green Tripe with Chicken Raw Dog Food” is a good place to start. Alternatively, we offer raw dog food diet sample packs.