It is common for dogs to scratch themselves and this can lead to hair loss, sores, etc... It is important to know that the main cause of itching in dogs is flea infestation, so good antiparasitic protection is essential! The other causes of itching are considered in a second time (other parasites, allergies, skin infections, etc...).
Your dog is scratching? Think fleas!
Most itching in dogs is due to flea infestation. It is therefore necessary to treat your dog for fleas before considering another cause of itching.
For a dog to be properly protected against fleas, an effective flea treatment that contains an insecticide (i.e. kills fleas) must be used. It is important to treat your dog against fleas all year round, even in winter, because fleas continue to develop in heated homes and in the animals' thick coats... You must respect the time between applications, which varies according to the antiparasitic treatment between 1 and 3 months.
Warning: "natural antiparasitics" contain only insect repellents, they repel fleas but they do not kill them. They do not allow to exclude an infestation by fleas, they are insufficient when the infestation pressure is high.
It is not easy to observe fleas on an animal. Indeed, eggs, larvae and most adults are present in the environment. Adult fleas only come on the animal to feed and mate. If you see fleas on your dog, then there are already many fleas in your home! Sometimes flea droppings are visible in the animal's coat in the form of black dots. This is digested blood: flea droppings leave a red trail when placed on a moistened paper towel.
If you see fleas on your dog, then it is also necessary to treat the environment to get rid of the fleas.
Other animals in the home should be treated (dogs and cats) even if they are not itchy. Care must be taken to determine the species of the pest control treatment used, as some pest control treatments for dogs are toxic to cats.
Dogs can develop an allergy due to sensitivity to flea saliva: this is called flea bite allergy dermatitis (FAD). This results in severe itching, scratching sores, etc. .... A single flea bite is enough to trigger such symptoms! A consultation with a veterinarian is necessary in addition to an appropriate antiparasitic treatment.
Good to know: when they bite themselves, dogs can swallow fleas. These can transmit a tapeworm called Dipylidium caninum after ingestion. It is advisable to deworm your dog regularly with a dewormer that you can find at your veterinarian.
What if the itching persists despite flea treatment?
If flea infestation has been ruled out, then other causes of itching should be considered.
Here are some of them:
- Other parasites: this is the case for example of Augustats, cheylétielles, mange agents...
- Allergies: there are several types of allergy that can be responsible for itching in dogs. As mentioned previously, there is dermatitis caused by flea bites, but also food allergies, atopic dermatitis and contact allergies.
- A bacterial infection (pyoderma): it can be primary or secondary to other causes of itching.
- A behavioral problem.
A consultation with a veterinarian is necessary if the itching persists despite an appropriate antiparasitic treatment. He will be able to determine the cause of the itching and to set up an effective treatment.
Also, if the itching is associated with other symptoms (pimples, scabs, sores, redness, etc...), a consultation with a veterinarian is recommended.
To relieve occasional itching, alternative medicines are more and more sought after by pet owners.
Biocanina has developed Urticalm, a complementary plant-based food that helps relieve itching (due to flea bites, allergies...) in dogs and cats. Its action is due to the senegenin (Securidaca Longepedunculata) having soothing properties on the pruritus. Urticalm is given orally, in 10 to 15 days treatment, renewable.
The animal must of course be treated in parallel against parasites to eliminate the most frequent cause of pruritus. If the symptoms persist after the treatment, consult a veterinarian.