Why You Need to Address Your Dog’s Scratching
All dogs scratch occasionally, but excessive scratching can lead to serious medical problems, including infection.
“Scratching breaks down the healthy skin barrier. This allows bacteria, yeast, and parasites to penetrate and flourish. It also dries out the skin which makes it even more itchy. So they get even more infections and often need even more expensive treatments if you let it wait,” says Dr. Jason Sweitzer, a veterinarian at Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California.
Chronic scratching can also lead to hair loss and thickening of the skin, says Dr. Christine Cain, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. And as a pet parent, the scratching is no doubt hard on you, too.
“From a human standpoint, scratching is nearly intolerable. The sound of dog tags jangling at all hours is disruptive [and] it is difficult to see a dog in the level of distress that is typically indicated by chronic scratching,” says Dr. Liz Stelow, chief of service at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at University of California, Davis.
Scratching in dogs can be caused by a number of conditions, including parasites, skin infections, allergies and tumors. Though not as common, behavioral issues may also be at the root of your dog’s scratching.