So where do you begin to find the cause?
An itchy dog can drive not just us crazy but your dog too! So where to being….
I recommend you start with the basics. Check for fleas. Always head straight to your dogs tummy area first. If your dog has fleas its likely they would be running around there and its a clear way without too much hair for you to see. Look for flea dirt (ie flea poop) its a dark brown/ red colour. Pick one off and drop it in a drop of water, if it turns the water a red/brown colour, its flea dirt! Fleas feed on the dogs blood so their poo is basically blood. On a darker coloured dog you just may be able to see the flea eggs. These are white. If its a flea issue, you may see one of those three signs. Did you know that one single flea bite can send an allergy dog scratching for a month, even long after the flea has gone! And did you know that fleas lay 50 eggs daily after their first blood feed. In one week thats 350 eggs from just 1 flea! Thats a lot of fleas to hatch and feed on your dog, then those fleas each laying 50 eggs per day! Thats what is called an infestation and can be very frustrating to get on top of. Not to mention thats one very itchy dog!
So how to treat for fleas?
From here, I would immediately start treatment. I have a fantastic flea wash I use that kills fleas instantly without the harsh chemicals. Then you need some on going treatments to protect your dog from these little blood suckers! There are some great products out there, such as Advantage, Frontline, Sentinel, Interceptor and the list goes on. Next wash your dogs bedding and vacuum the areas your pets go in the house. Those flea eggs drop off their coats as they trot around the house and land on the floor, when then hatch, and jump back on your dog the cycle starts again, unless of course you are using a good flea product. So get vacuuming! If you have a cat don’t forget to treat the cat for fleas too! I also recommend worming your dog as fleas can cause tape worm.
So what if its not fleas?
Lets look at when the itches happen. If these itches happen in a certain season, you can bank on the itches being an environment allergy! This means that there is a certain grass or flower or shrub that grows in that season that is causing your dog to scratch! You could liken it to us having hay fever when we become sensitive to certain pollens that grow through out the seasons. And like hay fever you can treat dogs with Antihistamines too! Talk to your vet about the dosage. If the antihistamines don’t help I have a number of customers who use evening primrose oil capsules in their dogs food and it has worked miracles clearing up the skin and scratching almost immediately. This also includes dogs who chew their paws and have paw swelling from walking on these grasses that cause the allergy. (but unlikely to work on dogs who chew their paws out of anxiety although may help some)
So what if its not environmental allergies?
So we’ve gone through the list of fleas and a dogs environment….. next we can look at your dogs diet! Like us not all foods agree with some people. Some of us have allergies to certain foods and cannot stomach them. So our dogs can have the same thing. There might be something in your dogs food that could be causing the reaction. Just think when you have a reaction to something like a cream or food your skin can come up in welts and you itch! Its the same for our dogs. So where do you start? I would start with a process of elimination. I would buy a premium low allergy dog food. These foods have ingredients in them that are rated as a lower risk of causing an allergic reaction. Usually they are made up of fish and potato. But there are others made up with chicken, rice or turkey. So choose wisely and maybe ask your vet for some advice as to which food they feel you could start your dog on. I must add that you should slowly change over to the food. Do this over a period of a week to 2 weeks. Give your usual food for each meal but remove a table spoon of food and add a tablespoon of the new low allergy food each meal. Over the two weeks increase that tablespoon size until at the end of the two weeks your dog is solely eating the allergy free food. The slow introduction is to not upset your dogs stomach so your dog doesn’t get a bout of diarrhoea. Once on the allergy food and we’ve established that the scratching is food related you should see a great recovery! I would also recommend a good pro biotic to give your dog daily. Adding fish oil and flaxseed oil will also help your dogs skin improve and shine. If you want to return to your previous diet and are able to divide up the ingredients such as a raw diet you put together yourself, you can slowly add each individual food back in, one by one to work out what was causing the reaction, therefore changing that ingredient to something else less likely to cause the reaction. Its a slow process but one that will benefit your dog in the long term.
In the meantime you can use soothing shampoos and conditioners on the skin for any of the above causes. A shampoo & conditioner with ingredients such as the soothing Aloe Vera and /or oatmeal are ideal. You can also use coconut oil on your dogs coat, it can be oily but does have the ability to soothe if required for some immediate relief. Keri Oil bath oil (from your pharmacy) is also a great product to use for dogs with environment allergies. Bathing your dog with a few drops in his or her bath water works as a great barrier to protect from further reactions and also to soothe. If you bring your dog to me I can provide all of the treatments I mentioned above. If your dog has any skin issues always mention them to me when I groom your dog!
If none of these things turn out to be whats causing your dogs scratching I would highly suggest a visit with your vet. It could be something a lot more serious such as a mite or bug that requires medication like antibiotics, anxiety issues or even more serious, although less common, such as a brain issue. Thankfully you will find the most common causes of itching are listed above.
Hope this has helped you and your dog, its good information to keep in mind for future use or to tell a friend if their dog has an itch!
Till next time! Take care of your dog.
Dog Day Spa
0407 763 674