Notice your working dog itching and scratching more than normal? Fleas, allergies and infections are the most common causes.
Itching is a really common problem among farm dogs. Itchy dogs can present in a number of ways including scratching, biting or licking at one or multiple areas of the body. The 3 most common causes of itching are parasites, allergies and infections.
Parasites in dogs
Fleas are small insects that feed on animal blood. Their saliva is very irritant and often causes an allergic reaction in dogs. They are also zoonotic, meaning they can also transfer to and infect humans.
The lifecycle of fleas makes them difficult to eliminate as the majority of their time is in the environment as eggs. A single flea on a dog can lay approximately 2000 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs drop into the environment and then hatch into larvae.
Step one is to eliminate fleas on the dog. There are a number of products available, most of which last for approximately 1 month (e.g. Advocate). Always read the packet or consult your vet for advice on which product would suit you best. Step two is to use a product on bedding/housing that can eliminate fleas in the environment.
Other parasites include mites, which can cause mange in dogs. These often cause severe itching and painful lesions. Treatment should be started as soon as possible, so contact your vet if you have any concerns.
Dogs and Allergies
Allergies in dogs can stem from a variety of factors just as in people including long grass, certain foods and washing powder. Allergies can develop at any age and it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint what is triggering the allergy. We use clues such as the location of itching and seasonality to help us figure out what could be the cause.
Treatments include anti-itch medications and control of flare factors.
Skin infections are an overgrowth of bacteria or fungus, which is often secondary to an allergy or parasite infestation. We normally treat these with a combination of topical and systemic antibiotics plus anti-itch medications.
Itchy dogs can really be a nightmare to treat so the sooner you get them seen the better! If you notice your dog itching excessively don’t hesitate to call us and set up an appointment. A dog that is busy scratching is not busy working!
- Eleanor Robertson