My dog is constantly scratching and biting himself, why?

Nuestro equipo está formado por veterinarios, etólogos, y expertos en contenido sobre salud animal.

Many of the queries we received at Barkibu refer to skin problems or the habits of our pets. One of the most common starts like this:

"My dog scratches a lot since a few days ago. I have bathed and dewormed him, but he is still scratching. He is starting to get hurt. I looked at him very closely, but I do not see any fleas. I'm desperate”

If you have this problem it is important that you know that it can be due to different causes, either of external or internal origin. Below we explain the most common, although the supervision of a veterinarian is always recommended.

External causes

In these cases it resembles a human problem of dermatitis, inflammation of the skin, swelling in some localized areas and hair loss. The agents that produce these symptoms can be:

Mold

In this case, we observe in our mascot several hairless areas in general in circular form and with scales. The fungi are contagious for other animals as well as for humans, although the wound disappears with the treatment you must make revisions since the fungus can remain latent in the skin of your pet and may come out again in the future.

In many cases, the problem comes back with the application of a topical ointment. Even so, we should not administer anything without consulting a veterinary professional since the mismanagement of the medication can cause the fungus not to disappear completely and become a focus of new infections.

Yeasts

The main signs of this infection are skin lesions, itchy ears, hair loss and a different smell in the affected areas. The main causes can be some type of allergy that our pet has to pollen, dust, some food or the famed fleas. After veterinary treatment, the most important thing is that your dog is always clean and dry, that is, when you bathe your dog do not forget to dry him with the dryer (even if he does not like it), humidity is the ideal way to contract and maintain this type of infection.

Mites

Mites produce the dreaded scabies, which causes skin irritation, causing the dog to scratch and scratch continuously as if unable to stop, eventually causing hair loss in the affected areas, which usually spread throughout the body of the animal, causing the formation of crusts, in the case of puppies, old dogs or those who are weak, the badly treated scabies can cause the death of the animal.

Again the consultation with our veterinarian is inevitable, the professional will prescribe a specific insecticide for your pet and antibiotic. In the case of mites you should avoid any type of medication or home remedy, as it can be harmful to your pet.

Fleas

They are small and annoying bugs, similar to lice in humans. It is one of the most common problems dogs have, the animal scratches a lot but that is not the main problem. The danger of fleas is that they can transmit many diseases, which can be very harmful to your pet.

If you deworm your dog externally he will never have this problem. External deworming is usually done with the application of a pipette or with an antiparasitic collar, only in adult dogs.

If you have a puppy with fleas you should go to your veterinarian because the chemicals for adults are very aggressive for him, being the remedy worse than the disease in this case. If you cannot go to a professional, you can also treat your pet with home remedies, vinegar, lemon, garlic, beer yeast... those are some of the best-known homemade remedies for fleas.

Ticks

They are a type of insect that feeds on the blood of the animals. When connecting itself directly with the blood system of the animal it can transmit diseases, so if your mascot has a tick, do not treat this lightly. You can try removing the tick yourself, but if you are not sure how you do it correctly it is better to go to a veterinarian, since you can keep part of the insect inside your pet and cause future infections.

Bacteria

The appearance of bacteria in our mascot usually takes place after an episode of cutaneous infection. The bacteria take advantage of any fissure, wound or alteration of the skin to cause a parallel bacterial infection. Normally it stays in the outer layers of the skin but if left untreated, the infection can get deeper, causing fibrosis and pus in more internal tissues of the dermis. The treatment must always be carried out by a professional.

Virus

A virus is a microorganism capable of having an independent life, the most common and feared virus in dogs is the parvovirosis, which is highly contagious and if left untreated can cause the death of the animal.

External parasites

In addition to the ticks and fleas that we have already seen, the Cutaneous Leishmania is also an external parasite that is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. In this case, the dog is itchy on the skin; there are areas with baldness, especially around the eyes, ears and nose. Leg ulcers, the formation of nodules, and brittle and pale hair. The life of our animal depends on whether or not we treat this disease promptly, so if your dog suffers any of these symptoms do not hesitate to run to your veterinarian to administer the appropriate medication, with which he can lead a totally normal life.

Allergies to food (gluten), food intolerances. As in humans, any allergy to a component or food can be reflected in the appearance of the skin of our pet, to check that he has allergies you should do several tests with different foods, removing from the diet and giving it some time to see if the skin improves. It is better if you do it under the supervision of a professional, who can dismiss other possible problems first.

Atopic dermatitis

It is an inflammatory skin reaction caused by substances that are in the air or the environment and that cause allergies in your dog. It is genetically conditioned disease that accompanies the dog throughout his life. Apart from veterinary medication, you must complete some behavioral patterns with your pet, since he is more vulnerable to other types of skin infections. Adequate and prompt diagnosis and treatment will give your dog a full and happy life.

Internal causes

The skin is sick and does not perform its functions well.

Hormonal disorders

Thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries or testicles. Any alteration of the glands that regulate fats, proteins or hormones of our pet can cause skin problems. In this case, you have to perform an exploration to check the reason for this alteration in the glands and rule out more serious problems.

Bad keratinization of the skin (seborrhea)

It consists of the excessive desquamation of the skin, such as dandruff. It is usually produced by factors such as, poor diet or stress situations, in many cases it is solved with a good bath with a suitable shampoo, or eliminating those situations that stress our pet. It is important to check that there are no other external factors such as parasites, mites, etc.

Tests to be carried out

Even if the problem is addressed without veterinary help, it is advisable to consult a trusted veterinarian to carry out tests and rule out possible causes that imply a more serious illness.

The tests they usually perform are:

  • Hair study. The different phases of hair growth are observed, to see where the problem lies. It guides us about endocrine disorders, hair loss caused by the itching, behavioral disorders or hair color disorders.

  • Skin scrapes. Several areas affected by lack of hair and itching are scratched and analyzed under a microscope or with different assets to see how they react.

  • Cytology. As in humans, cytology serves to see how our dog's organism works internally.
    Biopsies. It is a test that gives a lot of information to the professional; it serves to rule out possible cancer cells.

  • Cultures of bacteria and fungi. With this test, it is verified what type of external agent affects the skin of our pet.

  • Allergy tests. In this test, the agents that can cause allergies to our dog will be indicated, and what type they are.

  • Hormonal test. This type of test allows us to know if it is necessary to regulate and help the operation of some gland with external medication.

  • Blood test. A blood test is always the test to see what the state of health of our pet is.

  • IgE levels. These levels indicate if there is atopic dermatitis in the animal's organism.

Remember that if your dog has a skin problem, he will not be cured with a pill or vaccine. It is a combined treatment and, sometimes, for a long time.

In any case, it is important to clean and disinfect with bleach all the surroundings of your dog, his bed, feeding trough, drinker and the places where he usually lives. The main reason is that the mites and spores of fungi, pollen and other agents that cause allergy are in the air. When cleaning, vacuuming, and disinfecting, the environment surrounding your dog, he will have fewer "bugs" that can cause skin conditions.

My dog is always scratching but doesn´t have fleas

Topical (external) treatment is usually done with baths with specific shampoos. The frequency of the baths is usually, in general, every week. The goal is to reduce the burden of dermatitis causes, moisturize the skin, soothe itching and reduce inflammation of the skin of your dog.

After the baths, it is usually recommended to apply specific collars and pipettes for prevention. A clean and dry environment, as well as the hygiene of your pet, will always be optimal for the improvement of his condition.

How can I get my dog to stop scratching?

In the case of having an allergy, there are on the market specific feeds, hypoallergenic and of first quality, with all the vitamins and nutrients necessary for your dog to have a healthy skin and prevent possible allergies.

You can also supplement the meals with essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6), vitamin A, C, vitamin B complex, and vitamin E, for at least a couple of months. You will notice at once if your dog improves, simply observing and touching the quality of his hair.

The ingestion of water is also important to keep your dog's skin hydrated. He depends on the skin to be flexible and in shape, to act as an outer protective layer.

Following these tips and with the help of your veterinarian, you will overcome any type of dermatological problem together, and your dog will stop scratching, enjoying a full and happy life by your side.