If you dog is constantly scratching, biting, licking or chewing at their skin, it may not be just an annoying habit – they may have a skin problem. Unfortunately, dogs frequently suffer from skin conditions that often go unnoticed because their attempts at relieving the itching or irritation are thought to simply be a habit. Nearly all dog skin problems have symptoms of itching, so taking the dog to the vet for a checkup may put a stop to the scratching and licking. Here are just a few of the types of skin conditions that may be causing excessive scratching and licking, biting or chewing under the skin.
Fleas, mites and ticks can cause discomfort and excessive itchiness, so it is important to routinely check your dog for any signs of an infestation. Running a flea comb through your dog’s coat and inspecting their teeth are the easiest ways to check for insects, but you should also thoroughly inspect their skin looking for deposits of small, black specks, which could be an infestation of fleas. If you suspect your dog has a tick or an infestation of mites or fleas, you should consult with the vet about the most appropriate form of treatment.
Yeast and bacterial infections are both common causes of excessive itching in dogs. An infection is typically accompanied by biting and licking of their skin, scaling, hair loss, odor and a fluid discharge. Excessive scratching of their face and feet is common in dogs who may have a concurrent yeast and/or bacterial infection. Whether it is yeast or a bacterial infection it is essential that you take the dog to the vet for an examination as soon as possible; delaying treatment for an infection may result in more serious health problems.
The most common causes of itching due to allergies are food allergies, a reaction to allergens in the environment and/or insect bites. An allergy can cause mild to severe itching. Dogs can be allergic to the same irritants that humans are allergic to, such as certain foods, dust, pollen, mold, cleaning products and plants in the yard. If you suspect your dog may have allergies, your vet can determine what types of allergies are causing the problem.
There are a range of factors, such as fatty acid deficiencies or winter weather that may cause your dog to have dry skin. The discomfort of having dry skin may cause the dog to respond by scratching, biting and licking. Medical conditions, such as a thyroid dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and other health problems can also cause dry, itchy skin. In some situations, adding a fatty acid supplement to your dog’s regular diet may help to address their dry skin issues and help to keep your dog’s coat healthy. It is best to schedule an appointment with the vet for recommendations and the best way to soothe your dog’s dry skin.
All dogs scratch, lick and bite themselves from time to time, but if the scratching, biting and licking become excessive, then there is probably something going on with your dog’s skin. If these behaviors lead to hair loss or serious injury, there may be something serious wrong, so the best thing to do is to take him to the vet for a checkup, regardless of how severe the itching has become.
Contact Heritage Veterinarian Hospital to learn more information about skin problems in pets or if you suspect your pet may have a skin problem and you would like to schedule an appointment for an examination.