Dog Scratching. Stop & Prevent

CAUSES of dog scratching at the Door: Fleas, Flea allergy, Mites, Contact allergy, food allergy, Insect bites, Boredom/Attention seeking, Ringworm.

TREATMENT: Veterinary treatment is usually required, but control over the long term (without drugs) is up to you! Often in severe cases preventing the dog from reaching the area is necessary by the use of an ELIZABETHAN COLLAR.

FLEAS: Treat the dog(s), cat(s)etc and their beds and the house. Daily vacuuming, monthly topical or oral treatments from your vet, or Insecticide or herbal flea washes for the pets, or flea bombs for the house or pest control sprays for the yard. These are all the things you can do, to beat fleas.
WARNING: Always follow directions and never use more than one method at a time. The dog can become toxic if too much poison is used.
Remember FLEAS LAY THOUSANDS OF EGGS! These land throughout your house and yard and kennel areas.
Also FLEA EGGS HATCH DAILY! Especially if warm weather and movement (vibrations) are sensed by the egg.MITES:(Mange) There are two main types of mite. They are Sarcoptic and Demodectic mites. They can only be seen with a microscope. Sarcoptic mange is contagious to humans but not Demodectic mange which lives deep in the skin layers. If you do notice an itchy hair loss patch on your dog, get it examined early by your vet. It can usually be identified and treatment given that day, in the practice. However, an improvement will take several weeks, so be patient. To avoid getting mites a well balanced diet is essential. A clean bed and yard environment, An occasional flea rinse or using benzyl peroxide shampoo usually keeps them away. Normal dog to dog contact does not spread mites. Unlike fleas mites live in the skin not on the skin. Only close contact e.g. Mother and pups is contagious. Usually a dog breaks out with mites when it is under stress (in the pound), suffering from other illnesses, aged or a runt of the litter. In general when its body's resistance is lower than normal

Dog TrainingFLEA ALLERGY: It only takes ONE flea to set off an allergic reaction. So if your dog does suffer from allergies then make sure you keep a good control over fleas. If you catch it early enough you can give your dog some relief by using soothing creams specifically for irritated skin, or just plain cold water to cool the skin after being scratched.
Calamine lotion, Pinetarsol lotion (available from chemists or some vets) used topically work well for sudden and new itches. Oral omega 3 fatty acids, fish oils, vegetable oils etc also help maintain healthy skin. Chronic (long-term) dermatitis (allergies) often need stronger products to give relief.

These are usually cortisone and if given in injectable form give the dog immediate relief. Tablet form just takes a bit longer. These drugs are prescription only drugs. In chronic cases the prescription is repeated but only under veterinary supervision. This has to be done by law and for the dogs benefit, as miss-use is detrimental to the dogs health.

food / CONTACT ALLERGY
It is worthwhile finding out what causes your dog's allergy. If it is not fleas, then start eliminating the common triggers.
Make sure you keep a thorough record of this, as veterinary help may be needed if you are unsuccessful.
These are red meats, commercially produced foods (dry and tinned), food scraps containing allot of preservatives, MSG, rich and spicy flavours, sweet foods and fatty foods.

Also for contact allergies, keep your garden neat and clean. Especially rye grass, wild oats, flowering weeds, toxic plants that the dog sleeps near. All need to be removed. Even lawn can affect some dogs, so confine the dog away from the yard and only exercise "on lead". For all of the items listed to be eliminated allow at least 2-4 weeks time to show effects/results.

ONLY ELIMINATE ONE ITEM AT A TIME!
If you are unable to control the allergy then take the dog to the vet before it breaks the skin and sets up secondary infections and pustular wounds.

INSECT BITES
Follow instructions as in SNAKEBITE / SPIDER BITE.
If an allergic reaction and severe scratching persists then seek veterinary attention.

BOREDOM / ATTENTION
Dogs will drag themselves along the ground to scratch their stomach when itchy, and also for your attention when they are bored. General scratching can also happen for these reasons. Make sure you relieve the skin and eliminate the cause. (as explained in "flea and contact allergies").

RINGWORM
This is characterised by an itchy lesion where there is hair loss and a dry scaly, red and sometimes raised appearance to the skin.
Like mites ringworm appears when the dogs resistance is low.
Other dogs, cats, other children and owners, can contact it. It can even remain dormant in the soil for up to 6 months. First the lesion must be identified by the vet. Your dog will be given appropriate medication and advice. Like washing bedding, grooming items, all other pets etc in a fungal wash prescribed by your vet.
Despite the name, ringworm is caused by a fungus Microsporum canis and less frequently by other species. Ringworm infections remain limited to skin and superficial structures like hair and less frequently nails in cats and dogs. The infecting fungi require the keratin in superficial skin layers and nails, horns etc for their metabolism and furthermore do not grow well at the warmer temperatures of subcutaneous tissues, hence the superficial distribution. Note that ringworm agents are obligate parasites - they normally live on the skin, although not in pathogenic numbers.
It can be transmitted between animals by skin abrasion or mild trauma, grooming tools, scabs etc particularly if the animal's immune system has been compromised, e.g. with steroids. In a normal, healthy animal ringworm infections are usually mild and self limiting, say 1-2 months. A major motivation for getting rid of a ringworm infection is to prevent you the owner from getting it. If it is a mild infection topical application of lime sulfur is supposed to be good, although it can be smelly. Chlorhexidine shampoo is also effective as is also a relatively new 2% miconazole shampoo. If the infection is severe, oral griseofulvin is effective but costly. The round, ring-like lesions are suggestive but not diagnostic and are not even the typical lesion in cats and dogs. The animal may have itchy, scaly, crusty and hairless areas. Fungal culture is probably the best diagnostic method but many vets are not set up to culture fungi. A Wood's lamp can be used but not all ringworm agents will fluoresce so absence of fluorescence does not mean no ringworm. Furthermore other things besides ringworm also fluoresce. In other words Wood's lamp is not a great test. Microscopic examination of skin scrapings may reveal the actual organism. Finally, if you think your dog/cat has ringworm take it to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. If it does have ringworm, you could catch it, but prevention is Straightforward - treat your animal.

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