My Puppy Keeps Scratching and Itching
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Anyone fortunate enough to raise their dog from being a puppy will know they can't stand still. When they aren't sleeping, they are exploring everywhere and trying to eat everything. There are many adolescent behaviors which happen more when they are young. Most are benign and are usually ways of trying to better understand their environment. However, if your puppy keeps scratching and itching, it may be a sign of an underlying problem.
The best thing to do when your puppy won't stop scratching is to take them to the veterinarian. They will provide an examination, diagnose the problem and implement an appropriate course of treatment. While this AnimalWised article is not a substitute for a professional diagnosis, it can help us to understand the reasons why your puppy is itchy all the time.
Why is my puppy itching all the time?
Scratching is an important part of a healthy dog's behavior. When they skin is irritated, scratching helps relieve the frustration of the itch. These are usually isolated incidents with the relief of scratching being sufficient to quell the itch. If your puppy is itching all the time, this is not normal behavior. A puppy keeps scratching because the cause of the itch persists. This cause could be due to:
- External parasites
- Insect bites and wounds
- Skin irritation and dermatitis
- Stress and anxiety
- Hormonal disorders
We look into each potential cause of persistent itching in your puppy. As you will see, most are conditions which are not necessarily life threatening. However, if they are ignored, it is possible the health, well-being and development of the puppy may be impaired.
One of the most important reasons we need to find out why a puppy won't stop scratching is determining if they have a parasitical infestation. External parasites cause great itching on the puppy's skin. If unaddressed, they can also result in pain and discomfort. This is down to the irritation caused by the parasites themselves, but also the puppy's scratching can break the skin.
While scratching too much can cause a wound to form and opens the door to possible infection, parasites may also vectors of disease. Fleas, ticks and other parasites carry disease which can infect the animal with a variety of diseases. Some of these are zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred to humans. For the sake of the puppy and any other member of their family, deworming is essential.
One of the most common diseases caused by parasites in dogs is due to a fungal infection. This is known as ringworm due to the ring shaped marks left on the animal's skin. If you check the spot where your puppy keeps scratching, you might see a red circular mark indicating ringworm. Scabies caused by parasitical mites is also relatively common. Prevention of parasites and disease though deworming and vaccinating needs to be carried out regularly and timetabled by your veterinarian. We also need to be vigilant when we see observe any abnormalities on the dog's skin.
Our article on the importance of deworming animals can help you to better understand the necessity of preventive medicine for your puppy.
Picaduras de insectos y heridas
Parasites are not the only unwelcome guest on your puppy's coat. Non-parasitic insects, arachnids or other creatures can bite your puppy. The irritation this causes leads to scratching. Bees, wasps, ants or spiders can all leave irritation on the puppy's skin. In these cases, you can try to provide some relief to help them stop scratching themselves. Putting a cloth with some ice on it for a few seconds might bring temporary relief.
Physical trauma can occur from running or interacting with their environment. As puppies are still learning, they test the boundaries of their experience and this can sometimes lead to scratches. Even careful older dogs can have an accident. In these cases, you will need to disinfect the skin and keep an eye on it while it heals. This is why a first aid kit for dogs is so important. Serious wounds need to be attended to by a veterinarian. Go to the clinic if you are at all unsure.
Another reason your puppy may be scratching themselves so much is because they have an allergy. These are most likely either a:
- Skin allergy: contact with an allergen causes the skin to become inflamed and irritated, causing the puppy to scratch the affected area.
- Food allergy: eating an allergen causes a reaction which leads to irritated skin as a symptom.
Allergies can be very bothersome as the dog may scratch even more to relieve frustration and make matters worse.
When excessive scratching and skin irritation persist, it is possible the puppy will have a food or skin allergy. We need to take them to a veterinarian to find out what this is and then address the underlying problem. This may take an extended period of testing.
Skin irritation and dermatitis
Skin irritants can result in symptoms similar to allergic reactions in puppies. The difference is that an irritant is a substances which causes kin irritation regardless if the affected animal has an allergy. These may include various common household products such as colognes, cleaning products and others. They can provide a persistent itch which is troubling for the animal. The result it dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin which can be painful.
It is vital you check for symptoms if you think your puppy has dermatitis. They may include a persistent itch, small wounds, inflamed skin or dry scaly skin. The veterinarian will be able to diagnose the problem and offer suitable treatment. We also need to ensure we remove the original irritant from their environment.
Stress and anxiety
Puppies have high energy levels which need to be expended regularly. If they are unable to exhaust and renew their energy reserves, it will lead to problematic behavior. This can manifest itself in various ways such as ignoring training, urinating inappropriately, hyperactivity or becoming destructive. When this anxiety and stress is sufficiently acute, it can result in stereotypies. These are repetitive behaviors which have no obvious purpose.
Scratching is one example of a stereotypy in stressed or anxious puppies. This scratching can even result in hair loss, exacerbated by a lowered immune system induced by stress. It is essential we notice signs of stress in dogs so we can prevent such debilitating symptoms from occurring. Since puppies are still developing, ensuring their health now will affect their well-being when older.
Hormonal disorders are some of the least obvious reasons why your puppy might be scratching all the time. For example, Cushing's syndrome in dogs can cause itchy skin because the body's cortisol levels are imbalanced. This hormone helps the puppy's skin to be well-structured. If cortisol levels are compromised, the result is broken skin, irritation and even infections.
Another hormonal condition affecting a puppy's skin is hypothyroidism in dogs. Some of the symptoms of this medical condition in dogs are seborrhea and pyoderma. These skin problems that will make your puppy scratch a lot. Again, if you detect any symptoms or changes in your puppy, take him to the vet as soon as possible
Finally, the last main reason for your puppy having a persistent itch is what happens when they specifically scratch their ears. The reason is otitis, a general word for inflammation of the ear. This disease is frequent in puppies, especially after bathing them. This condition is very annoying and may cause your puppy to scratch their ears desperately. You can see them tilting their head to the side to try to reach the affected ear and scratch repeatedly.
The causes of otitis in dogs are varied. Parasitic mites can be the cause, but so too can allergies, foreign bodies or even physical trauma. Autoimmune diseases may also lead to recurrent cases of otitis. Since there are so many possible causes, it is necessary to go to the veterinarian to determine what it might be. Only then can we begin the right treatment. If we do not have a professional diagnosis and try to treat it on our own, we may end up making the situation worse.
Check out our video in the gallery below to see how you can clean your puppy's ears at home and prevent otitis.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Puppy Keeps Scratching and Itching, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.