Brown dog sat on pebbles scratching its ear

Dog Scratching: Symptoms

Dog Keeps Scratching: Why and What to Do?

It’s normal for dogs to scratch themselves, but if your dog is constantly scratching, and spends more time scratching than playing, it can be cause for concern. The feeling of itchiness which causes a dog to keep scratching is known as Pruritus. There are many reasons why dogs may suffer from this, from issues with their skin health to external parasites to underlying medical or psychological problems. However, severe itching can be detrimental to your dog’s skin and coat health, as your dog may be nibbling at, biting and licking their skin excessively. This can lead to hot spots, damaged skin and hair loss, not to mention irritation and increased risk of infection. It’s important that dog parents find the cause of their dog’s scratching to prevent further complications.

In this article, we help dog parents understand why their dog won’t stop scratching by discussing the possible reasons, as well as highlighting potential consequences. We also discuss how dog parents can relieve itching and promote healthy skin in their dogs. Itching can cause great discomfort, which is why it’s essential to look after your dog’s skin and coat health in order to protect their overall well-being - so your dog can enjoy sleeping, eating and playing, instead of scratching.

Why is my dog suddenly itching and scratching?

It’s important to identify the root cause in order to address the issue of your dog suddenly itching and scratching. If your dog won’t stop scratching, they may have parasites, allergies or a skin condition. They could also have an underlying medical problem, or a psychological issue such as anxiety. Dog parents should consult a veterinarian to determine the root cause of their dog’s scratching, and provide appropriate treatment and advice.

Dogs can have allergies to food or environmental factors, such as pollen, dust or mould. You’ll know if your dog has an allergy if they experience intense itching and are scratching, biting or licking themselves excessively. They may have red or inflamed skin, persistent ear infections or gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhoea or vomiting. Parasites, such as fleas, ticks, mites and lice, can also cause severe itching in dogs.

If your dog has a skin condition such as a bacterial or fungal infection, dermatitis or autoimmune disorder, besides your dog scratching constantly, you may notice red sores, hair loss and a strong odour from the affected area. On the other hand, if there are no physical symptoms, your dog may keep scratching itself due to a psychological issue. They may be bored due to a lack of mental stimulation, or displaying signs of stress and anxiety if something is troubling them.

What are the consequences of constant scratching in dogs?

There are negative consequences to your dog scratching constantly, as it can disrupt their daily activities and therefore lead to changes in their behaviour. Your dog may struggle to get comfortable enough to rest or may be too irritated for play and exercise, all of which can affect their overall well-being. Excessive scratching can also damage your dog’s skin, as it can create open wounds and sores which are painful. Damaged skin can also make your dog more susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections, which can lead to redness and swelling, causing your dog more discomfort.

If your dog keeps scratching in the same areas, it may also lead to significant hair loss. This not only affects the appearance of your dog’s coat but can also make them more exposed to infection. Also, hot spots can occur in the areas that your dog keeps scratching, chewing and licking, which will appear as red, irritated and wet skin. Hot spots can also grow and become extremely painful. It’s crucial that dog parents consult a veterinary expert if they notice any skin problems in their dog, to relieve their discomfort as soon as possible.

Why is my dog itching?

Dog parents need to find the underlying cause of why their dog keeps scratching, in order to effectively treat the problem. It’s helpful to observe your dog’s itching behaviours so that you can relay this information to your veterinarian. Make note of when your dog’s itching started, what time of day it is more severe, which areas your dog is scratching the most, and any recent changes in their behaviour or diet. You can also gently inspect your dog’s skin and fur for redness, rashes, lumps, sores and hot or bald spots.

If your dog’s constant scratching is a new behaviour, you may want to rule out a flea infestation first. You can check your dog for fleas by looking in areas of less dense hair, such as around their stomach, as well as evidence of flea dirt, which will look like brown flecks. In this case, you’ll need to treat your dog with a prescribed flea treatment, as well as thoroughly clean your home and wash your dog’s bedding. It’s important to keep your dog’s living environment clean, regardless of fleas, as you can imagine if you got into a dirty bed each evening, it would probably make you feel itchy too! If your dog is particularly sensitive to flea bites, or even allergic to them, their reaction from just one bite whilst on a walk could also cause severe itching - without any signs of fleas actually in their coat.

However, if your dog is always scratching but doesn’t have fleas, you may want to take them for a veterinary check-up. A veterinarian can perform allergy tests to see if your dog has a food, environmental or product allergy that is causing them to itch. Some dogs have very sensitive skin, and if you use bleach or ammonia-based cleaning products to clean your home, this could be what’s irritating them. Make sure to use pet-friendly cleaning products instead. Otherwise, your dog could have a food allergy, in which case your veterinarian may recommend a food-elimination diet to identify the allergen. James Wellbeloved™ Dog Food is hypoallergenic and made with natural ingredients. With only a single animal protein in each variety, ranging between lamb, turkey, fish, chicken and duck, you can choose which is best suited for your dog.

Depending on the reason why your dog keeps scratching, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination. This usually begins with a physical examination of your dog’s skin and coat, where they will look for skin problems, infections or parasites. If they suspect mites, they may perform skin scrapings, and if they suspect an infection, they may take swabs or biopsies. Your veterinarian may recommend an allergy test if your dog has relevant symptoms, or a blood test to rule out underlying health conditions. Whatever the procedure, your veterinarian should discuss treatment options, as well as schedule a follow-up appointment for results and to monitor your dog’s progress

What are effective ways to relieve a dog's itching?

There are various ways to relieve your dog’s itching. If your dog keeps scratching themselves, you could place something cool against their body to relieve their itchiness, redness and soreness. This could be a cloth soaked in cold water and then wrung out. You can also try to bathe your dog in cool water, and use medicated shampoos designed for sensitive, dry or itchy skin, depending on your veterinarian’s recommendation.

Of course, if your dog has fleas, using an effective flea treatment can kill the fleas and their eggs, and relieve your dog’s itchiness too. Dog parents should also make sure to treat their homes, as well as wash their dog’s bedding at a high temperature. But if your dog is always scratching and doesn’t have fleas, they may have an allergy.

In this case, your veterinarian may prescribe antihistamines or recommend allergy shots, once they’ve determined the allergen. They may also suggest a food-elimination diet or dietary changes if your dog has a food allergy. It might be ideal to remove grains fromy our dog’s diet by serving the James Wellbeloved™ Grain Free range to rule out allergens and manage your dog’s allergies.

With the above recommendations in mind, it’s important to consult a veterinarian for tailored solutions that appropriately tackle why your dog won’t stop scratching.

How to prevent itching and promote healthy skin in dogs?

Depending on the root cause of your dog’s itching, they may need regular treatment to prevent itching. However, it is possible to promote healthy skin in dogs by practising good hygiene. Make sure your dog’s living environment is clean by regularly washing their bedding, hoovering the carpets and cleaning the floors. It’s recommended to regularly bathe your dog to keep their coat clean and free from dust, dirt and debris, which can support their skin health too. You can also use specific dog shampoos for itchy, sensitive or oily skin. It’s important not to overbathe your dog, however, as this can strip the natural oils in their coat, leading to dry skin that can cause itchiness.

If it’s not possible to bathe your dog often, you can use dog-friendly antibacterial wipes to keep them clean on a daily basis - especially after muddy walks! You should also groom your dog regularly to remove knots and tangles - this can help to detect any skin problems early too. It’s also important for dog parents to administer flea and tick prevention treatments as recommended to ensure parasite control. Besides hygiene, dog parents should ensure their dog is comfortable in their living environment to reduce stress-related itching. This can be done by minimising triggers, ensuring physical exercise and providing mental stimulation through training. Of course, cuddles, praise and treats go a long way too!

However, one of the most important ways to prevent itching and promote healthy skin in dogs is by ensuring they have a complete and balanced diet. Your dog’s food should be tailored to their age, size and health, in order to receive essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals for them to thrive. If your dog has a food allergy or intolerance, dog parents should consider serving a hypoallergenic diet with the James Wellbeloved™ Food range. With the absence of common allergens such as grains, beef, pork and soya, James Wellbeloved™ Dog Food also contains omega-6 fatty acids and zinc to support healthy skin and coat.

While it can be concerning for dog parents to see their dog irritated by constant itchiness, with veterinary guidance and treatment, it is possible to alleviate your dog’s symptoms. It’s important to look after your dog’s skin and coat health through good hygiene, a complete and balanced diet, and regular veterinary check-ups. The latter can help to detect any skin problems early too. Dog parents should also familiarise themselves with dog mange - a common skin condition that requires veterinary attention.