Why Might Your Dog Be Itchy? Part 1

Whether you have a thick coated Shetland Sheepdog or the slight coat of a chihuahua or something in between, you have probably had to deal with an itchy dog at some point. If you haven’t yet, give it some time, you may yet.

A dog with itchy skin can be a frustrating experience, its the constant scratching that really works on the humans in the house. I can remember waking in the middle of the night to the “thump”, “thump”, “thump” of my dog’s leg banging against the floor. And then there’s the sneaky scratching, have you ever dealt with that? When my dog was itchy, we would tell him to stop scratching when we saw him; so eventually he would go out of the room, in the hallway and scratch there. We couldn’t see him but we could hear him! He thought he was putting one over on us.

The poor little guy was at the veterinarian’s several times for that scratching. We got creams, pills, bills and a lot of kind words. I have heard stories from other dog owners here and there. I am sorry to say that it seems that some times the doctor may not be doing his or her due diligence and not really getting to the heart of the matter. Of course I am not saying this is the rule and hopefully it is the exception but as a responsible pet owner it is our responsibility to work with our dog’s veterinarian. Solving the cause of a dog’s scratching can be some real detective work and you may need to look at your own home and behaviors there and look for recent changes.

Probably one of the most common causes of a dog’s itchiness is an allergy. Dog’s like people can develop allergies to certain things that were fine before. Then it may be that he or she is around something new, like a new laundry detergent. So you might want to give some serious thought as to whether anything has recently changed in the house. I once heard a story from a dental assistant. She told me about her dog, a Yorkie I think, that had developed a serious itching problem. She went to the vets got medicines and performed tests and apparently spent quite a bit of money. Well it turned out that she was staying in a hotel at the time because of a house fire. To make a long story short, apparently the previous residents of the room were smokers and the dog was allergic to this smoke residue.

I was recently talking with a sales associate in a local pet store. He told me the story of his dog, a pit bull I think, was subject to severe ear infections as a pup and I believe he mentioned there were also skin issues. The cure for his dog? Changed her food to a holistic brand, without any grains, except rice. She has been on that for about eight years with no more problems. Now your vet may advise you to switch foods. Personally I might like to hear the strategy in doing that right off, just to know there is one, But regardless, you may not have to use the brand of food the vet office recommends; discuss this with them, there may be cheaper comparable alternatives or just better choices available. Remember that as your dog ages he or she may develop allergies to items in the food and a change may be in order but talk to your vet and agree on a plan.

One final thing, my owns dog’s story; that I began to tell, a few paragraphs back. Despite the several visits to the vet his itching was not solved so we decided to try a new vet. After a brief examination, she did a skin scraping and found scabies, a skin parasite. In fact it is the parasite that causes some forms of mange. My wife had asked the previous vet to test for this but they basically thought my wife didn’t know what she was talking about and had reasons not to do it. But in the case of my dog, they should have treated him for scabies even without a positive scraping; the scraping does not always show the mite. Best practice indicates that he should have been treated just because of his symptoms. Once treated, after a few days he felt much better and was soon back to his old self but he suffered needlessly.

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