Why do dogs Scratch?

katy towle 13 May 2021

Did you know, one of the most common reasons a dog is brought to the vet is because they have been scratching. Dogs typically scratch because they are itchy. Causes of itchy skin include:

  • Atopic Dermatitis (allergies to the environment or food)
  • Parasites (such as fleas or mites)
  • A contact dermatitis (a reaction to e.g. a shampoo)
  • A hormonal disease (such as an underactive thyroid)
  • Skin infections (which may be bacterial or fungal)

Did you know, as well as scratching your dog may lick, chew or rub. You may notice their skin is red or scabby and their fur isn’t as thick and glossy as it once was.

What can I do for my pruritic pooch?

It can be heart-wrenching to see our pets incessantly scratching, licking and chewing at their skin. Some will be distressed and they can find it hard to focus on other things such as playing with their toys. Many will find it hard to sleep and might wake up licking or scratching. It is little wonder then, that owners are keen to help ease this discomfort. 

The Necessities 

It is vital that any itchy dog sees a vet. This is so the vet can try to determine what is the underlying issue. They may need to run some tests such as a skin scrape, skin swab or allergy blood testing. They will also thoroughly check for any fleas as ‘flea allergy dermatitis’ is one of the most common causes of scratching.

Your dog may be prescribed medicine such as a parasite treatment, medicated shampoo, antibiotics and anti-itch medicine to break the itch scratch cycle.

Once we treat the cause of the scratching, we are well on our way to re-establishing a healthy skin and coat.

Diet & Supplements

For the majority of our patients, the right diet will play a role in helping their skin.

This is especially true for those with food allergies / adverse food reactions. Dogs can react to certain ingredients (such as grain, dairy or chicken) so removing these ingredients completely from their diet should make an improvement within a few weeks. As all of our diets contain a limited number of ingredients and are grain free, they work well for many itchy dogs.

For all, adding omega 3 fatty acids can improve the skin barrier and help it retain moisture and react less to allergens in the environment. Our Pooch & Mutt Salmon Oil is a rich source of these healthy fats and can be added to your doggo’s dinner each day.

Supplements, such as our Bionic Biotic, may also help support the skin and reduce generalised itching. This complementary feed is sprinkled on our pet’s food. It contains both prebiotics and probiotics which promote a healthy gut microbiome. The right balance of healthy bacteria in the gut may reduce the prevalence of adverse food reactions. The added antioxidants in Bionic Biotic can help your dog fight off skin infections as they promote a robust immune system. On top of this, the Biotin within this supplement promotes healthy fur growth; ideal for those whose itching led to fur loss or thinning.

So, don’t despair if your dog is incessantly scratching at their skin. Once we treat the cause and support their skin and fur with the right diet, things should improve rapidly.