Itchiness is a common dog health problem, particularly during the summer months when fleas, mosquitoes and other pests can wreak havoc on your dog's skin. If your dog is keeping you up at night chewing and scratching or if you notice hot spots or missing patches of hair, a trip to the vet is in order. A variety of treatments can help alleviate your dog's constant itching.
If your dog has greasy skin and fur and a strange smell, he may have a fungal infection. Your veterinarian can prescribe an antifungal medication. Over-the-counter antifungal shampoos are sometimes effective, but you may need to wash your dog with the shampoo several times over the course of a few weeks. Add a tablespoon of plain yogurt to your dog's diet to prevent future fungal infections.
If there's no obvious cause for your dog's itching, he may have allergies. Ask your vet to test your dog for allergies. Common allergens include fillers in food such as corn and some meats. If the itching started after a change to a new food, it's a sure sign the itching is a reaction to the food. Check the ingredients list to uncover the culprit. Some dogs also develop allergic reactions to flea or mosquito bites. Treating your dog for fleas can help prevent future reactions, but your vet may still need to treat the skin condition. A cortisone injection often helps with allergic skin reactions and itchiness.
Fleas and Pests
Fleas, mosquitoes and other biting insects are perhaps the most common cause of frequent scratching. Check your dog's skin and fur for fleas and tiny, clear flea eggs. A prescription pest control treatment can help eliminate the fleas. Make sure you use a treatment that kills both fleas and their eggs. You will also need to remove bedding that is potentially flea-infested and vacuum areas your dog frequents to completely remove the fleas and their eggs. If you live in an area with lots of mosquitoes, ask your vet about a treatment that will deter mosquitoes as well. Over-the-counter flea treatments are often ineffective and may cause allergic skin reactions in some dogs.
Some dogs compulsively lick and scratch themselves because of anxiety. Frequent exercise can help your dog burn off some of this nervous energy. Crating your dog when you are not home may also help. Some dogs suffer from anxiety so severe that prescription medication is in order. If your dog's anxiety is interfering with his quality of life and exercise and lifestyle changes have not worked, ask your veterinarian about prescription anxiety medication.