Why Dogs Scratch Themselves

How To Stop Your Dog From Scratching

It is a natural thing for dogs to scratch themselves.

However it can be a bit worrisome for some pet owners as they are unsure if something is wrong with their pet. Additionally it can be annoying if your dog is scratching other things besides themselves such as furniture, plants, and carpets.

Its possible for even the most obedient puppies to do some scratching from time to time and therefore its important to know why your pet is scratching and what can be done to help stop it.

What An Expert Has To Say About Dog Scratching

Why Do Dogs Scratch Themselves?

Before we can solve the problem of scratching we need to know why dogs compulsively scratch, lick, and chew themselves.

There are a few different reasons why this occurs and it varies from allergies to boredom to parasite infections.  Here are a few of the reasons why your dog may be scratching themselves.

Allergies: One of the reasons why your dog is scratching themselves is because of allergies they have.  These allergies can be triggered by a number of reasons including environmental factors (mold and pollen) and food. Dogs may develop skin irritation called contact dermatitis as a result of soap and/or pesticides.

Boredom or Anxiety: Just like how humans can get anxiety and bite their nails or twirl their hair it can be very similar to dogs and scratching themselves.  When dogs get into uncomfortable situations or when they are very bored at home alone they can possibly resort to scratching themselves and possibly hurting themselves by scratching too often.

Dry Skin: Dry skin can be caused by dry winter weather and also by fatty acid deficiencies.  Dogs respond to their dry skin by scratching, bite it, and licking their fur and skin to feel comfort.

Hormonal Imbalances: Superficial skin infections can occur if your dog is putting out too much cortisol or not producing enough thyroid hormones. This may cause your dog to bite, lick, or scratch at red spots on their skin that are bothering them.

Pain: If you notice that your dog is scratching or chewing compulsively at one spot on their body its possible that they may be in pain. It could be something like a thorn in their paw that they are trying to get out because its painful when they walk.  Additionally your dog my be chewing or scratching themselves because of arthritis or hip dyspepsia.

Parasites: The most common reason why your dog may be scratching themselves is because of parasites such as ticks, fleas, and mites. Ticks are often visible by the naked eye but mites are microscopic and cannot be seen and therefore by the naked eye you cannot judge if your dog is infected by parasites or not.

When Is Scratching A Real Problem?

Dog ScratchingOccasionally your dog may quickly scratch themselves and feel better and stop. On the other hand your dog may scratch themselves often and for long periods of time. As well your dog may scratch themselves so profusely that they may even cause their skin to bleed.

If your dog is scratching often, for a long period of time, or hurting themselves it is a good idea to see your veterinarian right away.

On the other hand if your dog scratches themselves once in awhile this can be fine as they may just have and itch like humans occasionally do and its nothing serious.

A Solution To Scratching

If you have determined that the reason why your dog is scratching themselves is because something is bothering them there is a few ways you can treat the issue depending on the reason why they are scratching.

These solutions include:

  • Eliminating the parasites
  • Changing dog food
  • Using medication
  • Preventing the behavior
  • Addressing boredom and anxiety issues

Eliminating Parasites: in order to do this you can speak with your veterinarian or go online to find prevention medications for your pet.  However when your pet already has a parasite you will need to find the source of the parasites and have them removed.  This includes cleaning carpets, upholstered furniture, and dog beds by vacuuming them thoroughly on a regular basis. Once everything is clean you will need to make sure your dog and any other pet in the household is cleaned of all parasites by visiting the vet.

Changing Dog Food: if the cause of your dogs scratching is because of allergies it could be caused by the food they are eating. Therefore you should try other dog foods that are hypoallergenic. Once you find a food that they are no longer allergic to it should stop the scratching.

Using Medication: As mentioned above there are preventative medications you can give your dog ahead of time to prevent your dog from getting parasite in the first place. Secondly you can get medication from your veterinarian to help cure current ailments your dog may be experiencing.

Preventing The Behavior: Excessive scratching, biting, and licking can cause serious damage to the quality of your dogs life. Therefore you can prevent the behavior by letting your dog know they shouldn’t be scratching because of boredom and anxiety.  You will need to train your dog not to scratch for non-serious reasons. Also you can use a preventative collar that stops your pet from scratching certain areas of their body.

Addressing boredom and anxiety issues: If the reason why your dog is scratching, bites, and licking their skin and fur is because of anxiety or boredom it is important to teach your dog not to do this action. You can do this by keeping your dog busy with other activities such as chew toys, bones, and other things that keep your dog busy.  Also you need to make your dogs environment a comfortable one with little change so that it doesn’t stress your dog out.

7 Ways To Stop The Itching Fast

Just in case you need some additional help getting your dog to stop itching here is another great video.

Additional Resources For Dog Scratching:


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