Spring brings showers, flowers, and nicer weather. For dogs, it can also bring parasites that cause itchy skin conditions. While all dogs need a good scratch now and then, if your dog is showing excessive scratching, it may be due to an underlying cause that requires treatment.
If your dog is showing signs of frequent scratching, biting, licking, or shaking, it may be time to investigate for parasites – particularly fleas or ticks – as a cause. Fleas, ticks, and other parasites bite your pet’s sensitive skin, and the resulting itching (known to the medical world as pruritis) will lead to telltale behavior in your pet, particularly if the dog is hypersensitive to flea saliva. Regardless of the reason, if your dog is showing signs of excessive itching, it’s important to identify the source of the problem as quickly as possible to keep your pooch healthy.
Fleas are small flightless insects that survive as external parasites of mammals and birds. Essentially, they live on animals and bite to consume their blood. (And yes, humans can get fleas, too). Untreated fleas can cause health problems for your dog, so it’s important to consult with a vet and find the right flea treatment and prevention regimen.
Ticks are common throughout North America and often return with a vengeance in the spring. While your dog may love to snuffle about in the undergrowth or in piles of old leaves, these are the primary places dogs pick up ticks. Ticks are parasitic arachnids that are part of the mite family, and like fleas, they thrive on blood. Ticks can also carry dangerous pathogens – Lyme disease, just for starters – that can lead to illness in animals and humans. The good news is that many of the treatments for fleas in animals are also highly effective against ticks.
Your dog’s itching problem may not always be caused by parasites. Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin can lead to itching, as well. When the dog scratches, it may open up small skin wounds, leading to scabs and discharge that can further irritate the skin. These small infection “hot spots” can make your beloved pet miserable.
Like humans, pets can have allergies, and these allergies often manifest as skin conditions. Dogs can be allergic to certain foods, or they can show sensitivity to pollens, molds, dust, and grass. You’ll need a vet to help you identify the cause of your dog’s allergy so you can limit its exposure to the allergen. You may also need medication, oral or topical, to reduce the itchiness.
A vet can help root out the cause of your dog’s itchiness and guide you to the appropriate treatment to relieve the symptoms. Solving your dog’s itch means he or she is able to enjoy the outdoors without the resulting scratching.
DogWatch of Western Mass is committed to providing the safest, most effective electronic pet fences on the market. DogWatch has proudly served the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas since 1990 and belongs to the international DogWatch Dealer Network. We are committed, trained professionals offering years of experience in installation, training, and customer service. Being locally owned, we have a vested interest to keep our customers – and their pets — happy!