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Why does my dog itch ?

15 May 2023

Why do dogs itch ? Is it because of fleas ? Is it a behavioural problem? Or is there another reason for the itching ?

Sometimes dogs itch just because it makes them feel good or because they are trying to get rid of an irritant that got stuck to their skin when they rolled around in the garden. Who knows ?

But often there is something else… First of all, skin parasites (mites and insects), and in particular fleas. They are a scourge for dogs (and their owners). Although they are small and annoying, their main characteristic is that they bite. The dog scratches itself, which relieves it at the time; but this does not solve the problem, because the more the dog scratches, the more its skin becomes irritated… and the more it itches.

Caution: Germs can develop in the area of the scratches, due to a break in the skin barrier, and cause skin infections.

In addition, as in humans, allergy is a common cause of itching. Dogs can develop an allergy to the composition of their food, to naturally occurring elements in the environment (moulds, mites, insects, pollens, plants), to textiles, to metals, to care products (shampoos, creams) or to household products, to name but a few.

Some dogs have a genetic predisposition to develop skin allergies in response to environmental substances; this is called atopic dermatitis.

Did you know ?

When a flea bites, it injects its saliva into the blood vessel of its host. This saliva contains substances that prevent blood clotting and anaesthetise the area of the bite so that the animal does not scratch at the time. This is a very effective way for the flea to feed without interruption. However, in dogs, this can lead to the development of an allergy to the flea’s saliva, which is one of the most common causes of allergy in dogs. This is known as FAD, which stands for Flea Allergic Dermatitis.

Underlying health problems can also cause itching in dogs and itchiness can be a symptom of systemic disease (systemic diseases are conditions that affect several organs). For example, endocrine diseases such as diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, or thyroid imbalances can affect a dog’s skin, which in turn can lead to skin imbalances that cause itching.

Finally, anxiety can also be a contributing factor to itching in dogs. Dogs suffering from stress may engage in repetitive behaviours, such as scratching or licking, which in turn can cause skin irritation.

In conclusion, your dog may scratch for a variety of reasons. By identifying the cause of the itch, you can provide appropriate relief from the unpleasant itching.

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