Monday, January 4, 2010
By Linda Cole
Do you have a scratching dog that is driving you crazy? Does he wake you up in the middle of the night with his mournful yelps while his leg pounds on the ground with a beat that would make any drummer envious? Like us, a dog scratches what itches, but there may be more going on than just a simple itch behind his ear. Scratching can indicate a presence of ear mites, dry skin or fleas, but it can also alert a dog owner to more serious conditions that need to be attended to.
One of my dogs has a severe reaction to fleas. It only takes one to drive her nuts. Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergic reaction to the saliva of the biting flea. But a scratching dog doesn't have to be miserable or drive you crazy, because flea allergies can be eliminated in most cases with regular use of flea medication along with controlling fleas throughout the home. Your vet can administer steroids or antihistamines to help calm the dog's itching and give both of you peace and quiet from all the scratching and whining.
Winter weather means furnaces are up and running which makes the air inside the home drier. The dry heat quickly creates scratching dogs and humans, so extra attention to skin care may be required. Dogs have more dander during winter months, and extra grooming can help keep their skin in good shape. It's a good idea to not bathe your dog as frequently in the winter.
If they do need a bath, use a moisturizing shampoo that's made specifically for dogs. Shampoo made for people is too harsh for dogs because our PH is different from theirs. Finish off with a good dog conditioner that contains ingredients to help reduce dry skin. Of course the best way to help scratching dogs beat the winter itch is to provide them with a high-quality dog food that keeps them healthy from the inside out. CANIDAE Grain Free Salmon Formula can help keep your dog's skin and coat healthy all year.
Scratching dogs may have ear mites that have invaded their ears. These tiny parasites will cause your dog to shake his head and scratch his ears. A sure sign your dog has ear mites is an unpleasant odor coming from their ears. The dog may yelp in pain while scratching and rub his head along the ground in an attempt to stop the itch. You may see a discharge (dried blood) draining from the ear and if you clean his ears with a Q-tip and look closely at the debris, you can see the mites moving. To stop the scratching and free him of this parasite, it's important to first clean his ears thoroughly with a quality ear cleaner followed by ear drops to kill the mites. Ear Miticide is the normal medicine used to kill the mites.
Yeast infections or secondary infections can also cause your dog to dig at his ears. If you are unsure why your dog is scratching his ears and you've been able to rule out ear mites, a visit to your vet can help determine the cause. Antibiotics may be required to clear up the cause of the problem.
Any time a skin condition lasts more than a week, it's a good idea to take your dog to see your veterinarian. A constantly scratching dog may indicate a serious condition that needs to be addressed. If you see open sores on their skin or irritations like rashes, redness or bumps, hair loss, a constant licking of their feet or dry, or dull hair that you can easily pull out, these symptoms could indicate other conditions like cancer, skin cancer or lymphoma, bacterial infections, allergies, mange, ringworm, hot spots or a number of other conditions that can affect dogs.
A scratching dog can work themselves into a frenzy and the cause of their itching needs to be addressed. If his drummer's beat on the floor is driving you crazy, then imagine how he must feel. Most skin and ear conditions can be dealt with easily. Once you've been able to determine exactly what your dog's scratching is all about, both of you can finally have a peaceful night's sleep.
Read more articles by Linda Cole