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Itching is one of the most common reasons pet owners take their dogs to the veterinarian. It goes without saying that, just like humans, there are a number of reasons behind why canines lick, chew and scratch themselves.
Why does your dog scratch himself?
Inflammation is also referred to as dermatitis. This condition causes intense itching in dogs. Parasitic and allergic dermatitis are the to most common types of dermatitis. The allergic variant is caused by food allergies, seasonal allergies and non-seasonal allergies. Parasitic dermatitis is caused due to insect bites and stings. Both these conditions have similarities in their clinical signs.
How can you tell the difference between the two?
If your dog is suffering from an acute case of allergic dermatitis, then he may have allergies due to one of the three aforementioned causes. Seasonal allergies are prevalent during summer, spring, and fall. If you live in a region that has predominantly warm/humid weather, then the allergy can persist all year long. Blooming flowers, plants, weeds, grasses and trees are the most common culprits behind seasonal allergies. Non-seasonal allergies can be caused due to molds, dust, environmental materials, chemicals and other factors. Some dogs are allergic to certain protein sources (beef, chicken, dairy) or grains (corn, wheat, rice).
If your dog is suffering from allergic dermatitis, then you will see signs of the condition all over his body, but most commonly on the ears, feet, armpits, legs, groin, muzzle, and around the anus. Redness, hair loss, oozing, crusting, hyperpigmentation and skin thickening can occur at the itchy locations.
Ticks, fleas and other stinging insects can cause inflammation and discomfort to varying degrees. Some dogs are sensitive to insect bites and some of them are even allergic to the saliva. Your dog will lick, chew or scratch himself on the affected site. The itching pattern will vary depending on where your dog has been stung or bitten, as well as on how sensitive he is to the saliva or venom of the insect.
Fleas tend to congregate around the neck, head, tail base, inguinal area and the perineum. The most common sign of a flea infestation is the appearance of black pepper like deposits on the infested site. If your dog has flea dirt, then use a moist cloth and gently wipe the area. If you see an orange or pink tinged reside, then it is a sure fire sign of a flea infestation. Mites, on the other hand, are microscopic insects that dig deep into the skin layers to feed and survive. As they chew their way through your dog’s skin, they cause inflammation and secondary infections (yeast, bacteria and so on). Redness, swelling, crusting, oozing, hair loss are the most common signs of mange in dogs.