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Pet dog owners would know that licking and scratching are normal dog behaviors. For example, licking is grooming for dogs. However, when this behavior persists and becomes compulsive, there could be reasons for concern.

A dog relentlessly scratching his ears until it becomes red is trying to get rid of discomfort. Excessive licking, biting, and scratching can signify that the dog suffers from a condition beyond skin dryness.

The good news is that you can now help alleviate your dog’s discomfort with simple changes at home and without spending too much.

You can use a more natural alternative to alleviate itchiness in dogs. Using essential oils is another alternative method of addressing these problems.

Your dog may behave normally around you but differently when you are out of sight. Reviewing footage from your security camera can help you check for any signs of any persistent unusual behavior.

Why Dogs Lick, Bite, and Scratch Excessively

One ear out on the playtime!

Dog scratching, licking, and biting can be various reasons, from medical conditions to plain boredom. Common reasons include the following:

Parasitic Infestation

Ticks and fleas are common external parasites in dogs and not easy to eliminate. Just one bite from a flea can already cause excessive itching and agitation.

Signs of infestation include red spots resembling pimples on your dog’s belly, groin area, and under the legs.

Allergies

Welcome Mocha! #beauty #thoseears #justlovely

Dogs, like humans, also suffer allergic reactions. Common allergens include chicken, eggs, pollen, soaps, shampoo, and other chemicals that come in contact with their skin.

Itching, either localized or generalized, is usually linked to allergies. In some cases, symptoms include coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Sometimes, there may be runny discharge from your dog’s eyes or nose.

Infections

Dogs can suffer from bacterial, yeast, and fungal infections.

  • Yeast infections can occur in the dog’s skin folds and ear canals.
  • Bacterial infections can result from cuts, blisters, or burns.
  • Fungal infections usually appearing as red circles or raised patches on your dog’s skin can be both painful and itchy at the same time. This infection is most often called ringworm and is also identified by the American Kennel Club as a common parasite in dogs.

Hormonal Imbalance

What a cutie!

According to the MSD (Merck Sharp & Dohme Corporation) Veterinary Manual, imbalances in the production of thyroid hormones and cortisol can also result in skin infections.

Hyperthyroidism is the most common type of hormonal imbalance. Any breed of dogs can have this condition but more often in dogs five years old and above.

Pain

Ellie! #onepawup

When a dog is in pain, it tends to lick and chew compulsively. If you notice it biting incessantly on its paw, consider checking it. There may be sharp objects stuck in their footpads, causing them discomfort.

Compulsive scratching, licking, and biting can also be manifestations of psychological or emotional reasons.

In studies done by experts in Horsham Veterinary Hospital, it was found that boredom, anxiety, phobia, or stress are among the commonly identified emotional issues your pet dog can suffer.

Scratching, licking, and biting are normal, but when done excessively, they can be symptoms of underlying health issues. In cases like this, take your dog to the vet right away for a check-up.

Boredom and Anxiety

Bored with the weekend already? Off to daycare!

Dogs need mental stimulation, too. When they get bored and left alone, they can be disruptive. They may sometimes exhibit anxiety as they look for something to do.

Separation anxiety can cause emotional stress in dogs. They can show agitation when their owners leave the house or while still preparing to leave.

When dogs feel anxious, they tend to lick themselves to calm down. This behavior is most often followed by barking and display of distress behavior after their guardians have left. 

Treating Compulsive Behaviors in Dogs

Eliminate the Parasites

Fleas and ticks breed and multiply fast. These parasites will infest your home, and if not addressed immediately, your kids will also suffer from them.

There are plenty of anti-tick and flea products in the market that you can choose from your favorite supermarkets or veterinary shops. The products range from soaps to flea collars.

Essential oils can also help terminate these parasites. Studies show this natural remedy is safe to use on dogs, especially when you also have kids at home.

Change Your Dog’s Diet

Consider changing your pet’s diet and avoid trigger foods. Changing your pet’s diet will also be beneficial in managing dry skin issues that can cause itchiness.

Fish-based diets are often recommended for itchiness in dogs. They contain high levels of natural fish oil, which reduces itchy and flaky skin,  promotes a silky coat, and can help relieve allergies.

Spend More Quality Time With Your Dog

In cases where the culprit to the display of compulsive behavior is boredom, you can engage your dog in activities that can stimulate their minds.

A good example would be to play hide and seek with your dog. Exercising your dogs, such as taking them for a walk, is another way of wiping the boredom away.

Walking is not just healthy but also provides a change of environment, thus a good action plan.

Did you know that you can also enroll your dogs in classes? You might want to consider this a plan and enroll your bored dog in a scent identification class.

Consult a Veterinarian

Your veterinarian may prescribe steroids or antibiotics – systemic or topical. Prescriptions will be given depending on the diagnosed condition.

The vets will most likely recommend anti-itch products to help remedy your dog’s condition. Most over-the-counter products do not need any prescription.

References

  1. What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Dogs? https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/flea-bites-on-dogs/
  2. Dog Rash on Belly. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-rash-on-belly/
  3. Disorders of the Thyroid Gland in Dogs.

https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/hormonal-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-thyroid-gland-in-dogs

  1. Breaking the Scratch, Itch & Lick Cycle. https://www.horshamvethospital.com.au/breaking-the-scratch-itch-and-lick-cycle
  2. Separation Anxiety. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/separation-anxiety
  3. Use of Essential Oils in Veterinary Medicine to COmbat Bacterial and Fungal Infections. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7712454/
  4. Canine Allergic Dermatitis: Causes and Treatment Options. https://animalmedcenter.com/canine-allergic-dermatitis/
  5. Fish Oil for Dogs. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/fish-oil-for-dogs/

photo credit:

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-doggy-animal-mammal-scratch-2410875/

Author’s Bio:

Fay’s interest in radiology started when she first became pregnant. Now she regularly contributes to W-Radiology.com. She worked in communications for five years before settling down with her husband. As a mother and an advocate of all things natural, she tried CBD when friends recommended it for common aches and pain.

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