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Itchy Dog? 5 Things That Might Be Causing It

By    |   Thursday, 22 Jan 2015 05:01 PM

Itching in dogs is a symptom of an underlying health or parasite condition. Characterized by intense scratching and even biting at the skin, itching can be a constant source of irritation not only for the itchy dog but also for the owner who may become frustrated with the dog's incessant scratching.

The Merck Manual Pet Edition advises that a dog with "pruritus," defined as an unpleasant sensation within the skin that provokes the desire to scratch, "will excessively scratch, bite, or lick its skin. Itching may be general or confined to one area."

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Here are five health or parasite conditions that can cause itching in a dog:

1. Flea allergy

"Studies have shown that there are over 15 different antigens in the saliva of the flea. Each one of these is capable of causing an allergic response in a sensitive dog or cat," reports Pet Education. Dogs that have a flea allergy will not only scratch when they are bitten by a flea, they will develop an itchy area that provokes further scratching and biting at the skin. Treatment includes removing all fleas from the environment and the use of topical and oral medications, which will kill adult fleas after they bite.

2. Dry skin

This condition, which appears as dandruff and cracked, irritated skin, can cause intense itching and often occurs in dogs that live in areas of low humidity. According to The Bark, diet plays a big role in skin health and dry dog food can have a dehydrating effect on the skin. The Bark recommends, "If you must feed dry foods, then by all means add digestive enzymes to your dog’s meals. In fact, digestive enzymes are good to use with any type of food. Enzymes improve the release of nutrients, and beneficial probiotic bacteria also assist in the digestive process."

3. Food allergy

Dogs that are allergic to certain foods can develop an intense itchy rash usually over the base of the tail, sometimes over the ears, the back of the legs or the belly area. Dog Food Advisor lists the most common foods that can cause a dog allergy as beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, fish, corn, wheat, soy and yeast. In addition, there may be contaminants in the food itself that have caused the allergy. Some pet foods are marketed as hypoallergenic and these contain limited ingredients. Switching to one of these brands can help narrow down the specific food causing the reaction.

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4. Irritant contact dermatitis:


This condition is "caused by the direct effect of a chemical or irritant on the skin. It occurs in areas where the skin is not well protected by hair, such as the feet, chin, nose, hocks, stifles, and the undersurface of the body, including the scrotum," reports WebMD. Common causes include flea collars, shampoos, rubber dishes, insecticides, paint, and carpet cleaners.

5. Ear mites:

These parasites, which can live in the ear canal of the dog, are almost microscopic and can cause intense itching. Pets and Parasites states, "Dogs who are infected with ear mites typically have very itchy and irritated ears and frequently scratch at their ears or shake their heads. The ears can become red and inflamed, and rashes or other skin disorders can occur on the skin around the ears." Treatment involves specific medications and as the mites are contagious, both dogs and cats in the environment will need to be treated at the same time.

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Itching in dogs is a symptom of an underlying health or parasite condition. Characterized by intense scratching and even biting at the skin, itching can be a constant source of irritation not only for the itchy dog but also for the owner who may become frustrated with the dog's incessant scratching.
itchy dog, five, causes, itching
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2015-01-22
Thursday, 22 Jan 2015 05:01 PM
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