Isn’t listening to your dog’s itching all night maddening? Do you not know what to do about the non-stop licking? Does your dog biting its tail leave you helpless?
If you think you are upset, imagine how your dog feels.
Irregular itching, licking, and chewing behaviors are quite common in dogs and have a variety of causes. They can also be harmful. One of the first signs that your dog may have a problem may be the development of a hotspot – a red, wet, inflamed area that is caused by the constant chewing, licking, itching, or rubbing. Although hotspots or acute moist dermatitis can be found anywhere on your dog’s body, they are most often found on the head, chest, or hips. Because dogs are constantly itching, licking, or biting somewhere once they become inflamed, hotspots can quickly and greatly cause excessive soreness.
Reasons why dogs inevitably scratch, lick, or chew
Dogs itch, lick or chew for a variety of reasons, from allergies to boredom to parasitic infestation:
- Allergies. When a dog gets itchy out of hand, it is always the result of food or environmental triggers, allergies, including mold and pollen. Dogs can also cause skin inflammation called contact dermatitis when substances such as pesticides or soap are present.
- Boredom or discomfort. Just as anxious people can bite their nails or cut their hair, dogs can also react physically to mental distress. Some dogs develop a condition similar to human obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can manifest itself in itching, licking, or chewing behaviors that cause serious harm.
- Dry skin. Various factors, including winter weather and fatty acid deficiency, can cause dry skin in dogs. Your pet may respond to discomfort by scratching or licking their skin or fur.
- Endocrine imbalance. If your dog’s body does not produce enough thyroid hormone or is given too much of the hormone cortisol, a superficial skin infection can occur. You may notice rashes on the cheeks, and your dog may itch or lick as it is bothered by allergies.
- Pain. When trying to determine why your dog is licking or biting excessively, be sure to consider the possibility that something is making them physically uncomfortable. For example, if you see your dog biting his paw frequently, a fork or a sharp stone may get stuck in his paws. Forced chewing or licking can also be a response to orthopedic problems, including arthritis and hip dysplasia.
- Parasites. The most common causes for unavoidable dog licking, chewing, or itching behavior are fleas, ticks, and mites. Ticks are often visible to the naked eye, although fleas often disappear until there is a large infestation of insects. So, do not assume your dog is not suffering from parasites because you can not see it.
Treat your dog’s inevitable scratching, licking, and chewing.
Because there are so many reasons why dogs chew or itch, don’t forget to check with your veterinarian as soon as the problem is reported. The veterinarian will help find the cause of the behavior and determine the best treatment plan. Depending on the cause of your dog’s unavoidable behavior, these may include:
- Eliminate parasites. There are many flea and tick products that your veterinarian may recommend. Additionally, if your dog bites or chewing problems are caused by fleas, be sure to wash your dog’s bed and vacuum your carpeting and upholstered furniture regularly to reduce the chances of rearranging. You also need to treat other pets.
- Changing diet. If food allergies make your dog itchy, removing potential trigger foods (such as beef or wheat) can make a big difference. If this happens, your veterinarian may recommend a special diet. Adding fatty acid supplements to your pet’s regular diet can help eliminate dry skin problems and keep your dog’s coat healthy.
- Drug use. Your veterinarian may prescribe some meds to treat the underlying cause of the problem that contributes to your the constant itching. Also, your veterinarian may recommend the use of topical or systemic antibiotics, steroids, or anti-itch products to treat existing sites or skin infections.
- Preventing behavior. Because unavoidable behavior can seriously damage and affect your dog’s quality of life, it is important to do your best to prevent your dog from chewing, licking, or scratching excessively. Some ideas include using a bitter spray to prevent licking, wearing a special collar to prevent your dog from getting hot spots, or keeping your dog aside while you are at home.
- To address anxiety or boredom. In some cases, inevitable biting, chewing, or licking develops in response to fear, stress, or insufficient stimulation. To minimize this possibility, make sure your dog gets enough exercise, attention, and love. It can also be helpful to train your dog to chew toys or bones to relieve stress in return for inappropriate chewing or licking behaviors.