If you have a constantly scratching dog with licking and rubbing that begs for relief, then you may need to deal with a case of dog allergies. Sometimes a dog allergy can be relatively mild, at other times it is a very serious problem. Obviously, the dog is very uncomfortable and needs relief. But what could the problem be? Well, it could be one of several "scratching dog" conditions, which is not necessarily allergy based. These non-allergy conditions must first be ruled-out.
One cause of dog allergies is Environmental Dermatitis, or sensitivity to something the dog has touched in its extended environment. This contact usually takes place outside of the home. While there are potentially many causes, the most common cause is lawn grass with the accompanying chemicals sprayed on the grass. The dog has contact by walking around on the grass. Another common cause is trapped moisture. This usually occurs with heavily coated dogs or dogs with matted hair. The moisture is trapped under the hair and causes skin irritation. The moisture can be from any source, but is often rainwater or trapped moisture from swimming. Oddly enough, contact with plastics can be an unexpected cause for scratching dog. Environmental Dermatitis usually requires aggressive treatment to correct.
Another common cause of scratching dog is poor diet. This is very common. A poor diet will cause stress throughout the entire body including the skin and coat, as well as dental problems and internal organs. Deterioration of the condition of the skin and coat is called Nutritional Dermatitis. Dog owners are often shocked to learn the reason for their dog's gradual deterioration. Almost all dog owners think they are giving their dog a healthy diet. After all, many dog food labels state their contents are "a complete and balanced diet." Well, maybe not. Especially less expensive dry dog food (kibble) is usually more of a problem. Their labels might make sweeping claims but they are not being truthful. Many species of dog have very exact nutritional needs which many dog food manufacturers ignore. Luckily, there is a very quick cure. A switch to a high quality meat-based diet will usually bring a very dramatic turn-around in malnourished dogs.
Parasitic Dermatitis usually means fleas. There are a variety of effective and safe treatments that will prevent fleas or get rid of fleas. Preventative care is the key. Ticks can be another problem that needs attention. The tick is removed and the wound treated. Various types of mites can be quite a problem, so you may need to make a visit to the veterinarian for diagnose and treatment. Skin fungal, bacterial, and yeast infections come under the classification of Infectious Dermatitis and it's not pretty. Such infections are sometimes a complication to an already stressed skin condition. Lesions can develop if left untreated. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat skin infections in the office.
Neurogenic Dermatitis can be very serious. I will not get into this except to say these are extreme cases and your dog will need a specialist in dermatology. Your veterinarian will be able to make recommendations. Now we come to the core topic of this weblog, and the largest category in dermatitis, dog allergies, a.k.a. Allergic Dermatitis. All the above forms of dermatitis and other ailments and illnesses must first be ruled out before attempting to deal with a dog allergy. The veterinarian will take blood samples and skin scrapings for lab tests in order to form a diagnosis. If the specific problem is "none of the above" then the problem is an allergy. Allergic Dermatitis is a complicated field because an allergen is often difficult to identify, and it can be difficult to treat. Of course, some cases are very straightforward and easily solved. But that is sometimes not the case.
What Should You Do?
Contact allergies are the simplest to handle. This is an allergy from an item used by the dog, such as the dog's bed, rug, toys, etc. Just wash them and bathe the dog in a medicated shampoo. Sometimes the item must be replaced. If you observe dog allergy symptoms, it is important to have the condition identified and treated before it becomes a serious problem. Take your dog to a veterinarian. A veterinarian will do a diagnosis. You can expect blood tests, skin scrapings, and lab work before a diagnosis can be properly made. The ailments other than allergies must first be ruled out. Then if your dog is diagnosed with Allergic Dermatitis, then the search begins. Your veterinarian will instruct you what to do. I understand that severe or chronic dog allergy symptoms are especially difficult for the dog and are upsetting to the dog owner. In dealing with dog allergies, it is necessary to be persistent in rooting out the cause of the allergy and in applying treatment. If all goes to plan, the scratching dog will return to its previously content and playful self.