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Photo of a beagle scratching itself

All dogs lick, scratch and chew things. However, if your dog is compulsively scratching itself all the time, it may be a sign that something is wrong. If left untreated, incessant scratching can lead to red, bleeding sores. Here are some reasons why your dog is scratching itself and some prevention methods.

Allergies Your dog may be scratching because of food or environmental allergies, including mould and pollen. If your dog has been in contact with a pesticide or soap, it may develop a skin irritation called contact dermatitis. Changing your dog’s diet may help alleviate symptoms. However, knowing what food items to change is best left to a veterinarian who knows pet nutrition. Boredom or anxiety Like humans, dogs can physically respond to anxiety, fear and lack of stimulation. Dogs can develop a condition that resembles obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, which results in excessive scratching and licking. Be sure to give your dog adequate exercise, loving attention and a few chew toys. Dry skin Dry winter air or a deficiency in fatty acids may cause itchy, dry skin. Adding fatty acid supplements to your dog’s diet and adjusting your home’s humidity levels can help. Hormonal imbalances A lack of thyroid hormone or too much cortisol can produce superficial skin infections, resulting in bald spots that your dog constantly scratches. A veterinarian can prescribe something that can help. Parasites Fleas, ticks and mites can live in your dog’s fur, and their bites can cause your pet to scratch. Fleas and mites are difficult to see, so you may not notice an infestation. Applying a flea and tick control product can keep these parasites at bay. Moreover, regularly clean and vacuum the pet’s bed, carpet and upholstered furniture. Pain Your dog may be scratching itself for relief from some irritation, like a thorn in its paw. Look closely at the irritated area to see if you can relieve the problem. Scratching and licking can also be a symptom of orthopedic issues such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. The best prevention An essential way to ensure your dog’s health is to schedule regular checkups with a veterinarian, who can administer pet vaccinations, provide flea and tick meds and test for illnesses like heartworm. A vet can also recommend specific foods to maintain your pet’s health. Comprehensive pet care and vaccines in Scarborough At Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital, our veterinarians provide routine checkups, plus emergency and specialized care. We offer pet vaccines, flea and tick control and pet nutrition consultation services at our animal clinic in Toronto. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your dog.

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