Scratching and Biting
The Common Culprits of Your Dog’s Incessant Itching
If only it was as simple as speaking the same language. Owners definitely feel a deep connection with their pets, yet they can’t ask their cats or canines what’s bothering them. Rather, owners have to proactively look for signs or observe such things as hot spots, places where pets aggressively itch due to a rash or reaction. Before you take them to the vet for a formal checkup, consider the following reasons why your friend may be excessively biting or itching.
Your pet may be biting, itching, and acting out due to a poor diet. Like humans, a pet’s immune system may be defunct due to a lack of nutrients in their diet. Consult a veterinarian and do additional research regarding natural diets for your dog, cat, or other friend. Moreover, providing your animal with a daily multivitamin ensures they’re getting all needed nutrients.
Humans sneeze, sniffle, and get itchy eyes due to pollen, grass, and dust. While humans react with respiratory symptoms, animals show signs of allergic reactions on their skin. While it can be easily treated, it’s difficult to diagnose pet allergies. Pets may be allergic to pollen coming in from the yard or getting reactions due to an in-home cleaner. Allergies can be controlled yet seldom cured. Over-the-counter and vet-prescribed supplements may help control symptoms.
Some people get an instant reaction from types of cloth or latex. Pets also get reactions when coming in contact with certain substances such as flea collars, grooming products, and household cleaners. Even if ingredients are considered “safe” for your pet, they may inspire contact dermatitis. If you suspect a product is inducing reactions, eliminate it from your home or do not allow your pet to come in contact.
Fleas, Mites, and Bites
If your pet is itching on their hindquarters or at the base of their tail, it may have fleas, or more unfortunate, having a reaction from just a single flea bite. Mites are microscopic and often found in an animal’s ears and head. A natural insect repellent will help your pet stay healthy during bug season. If you notice excessive itching, take your animal to the vet for a skin scraping.
Excessive itching can lead to a bacterial infection, causing a bad cycle of irritation and subsequent scratching. Ringworm, common in animals and humans, appears as areas of broken or crusty skin. Moreover, a yeast infection can form on a pet’s paws or ears. Over-the-counter solutions may cure certain infections, yet be prepared to bring your pet to the vet if areas of the skin grow more irritated and infection spreads. View pictures and descriptions of dog skin problems.
Like humans, animals are predisposed to certain conditions. Breeds of cats and dogs are more likely than others to develop infections, rashes, etc. Moreover, dogs and cats with skin folds or floppy ears attract yeast and bacterial infections. Vets also advise owners to be aware of pets’ temperaments; high-strung breeds are more prone to reactive health issues such as allergies.
Like some humans have adverse reactions to vaccines and other forms of medicine, too many doses could inspire bad reactions in pets. Vaccines cause reactions in the immune system, and in some situations, cause allergies in pets. “Vaccinosis” is known to cause itchy skin.
Sweat glands are used to detoxify the body. Your dog or cat may be itching as part of the healing process. For example, when pets switch from pharmaceutical to holistic solutions, or when food is upgraded, they may begin itching as the body eliminates toxins via the skin. This may be the case if your pet’s stool smells different or they have an ongoing runny nose.
Too Much Itching
Of course, it’s hard to understand if you’re pet is just itchy or if there is an underlying and serious medical issue. Vets and pet experts have tried to develop a way to grade your pet’s level of itching. For example, a grade 0 involves minimal itching or a “normal” level of occasional skin irritation. A grade 3 denotes regular itching when the pet is awake and if the pet occasionally wakes from a nap or sleep due to itching. A level 5 involves external restraint, so the pet can stop itching and does not further irritate the skin.
It’s always good to err on the side of caution and visit the vet if you feel like your pet is irregularly itching. A worse scenario involves ignoring the itching or believing it will abate without professional and medicinal assistance.
Jeff Grill is the publisher of the Dog Health Guide and several other sites dedicated to small animal health that together attract over 10,000 visitors per day. He has more than 10 years of experience researching, editing, writing and publishing articles on canine health. Jeff founded his publishing company after finding it difficult to find accurate information online on dog and puppy health issues. He has a Masters degree from the City University of New York and a Bachelor of Science from the State University of New York at Binghamton.