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Why does my dog scratch and lick compulsively?

Does it drive you crazy when you notice your dog licking his paws and his body incessantly? If you feel uncomfortable, we can assure you, it is much worse for Fido. Compulsive scratching, licking, and chewing behaviours are pretty common in dogs and have a variety of causes. This behaviour can become detrimental to your dog’s health so be sure to take him to a vet if hot spots develop.

 

Dogs scratch, lick, and chew for many reason, ranging from allergies to boredom, to parasite infestation.

 

1. Allergies

When you notice Fido’s scratching getting out of hand, it could be the result of allergies to food or environmental triggers. Dogs may develop a skin irritation called contact dermatitis when they encounter substances like pesticides or soap, or even mould and pollen. Household cleaning products at times might play a part in contributing to the allergies due to the

For food allergies, you may adopt the method – elimination diet where you remove certain suspected ingredient from your pet’s diet for a period of 1-2 weeks and monitor if the licking/ scratching reduces. Repeat the method for a few key ingredients.

2. Boredom or Anxiety

Do you bite your nails when you’re nervous? The same thing can manifest in dogs too. Fido’s obsessive licking and chewing may be physical responses to psychological upset. Some dogs can even develop a condition akin to human obsessive-compulsive disorders and this can cause severe damage to their mental and physical health. Keep your pet’s occupied and bring them for periodical walks everyday so as to release their pent up energy.

 

3. Dry skin

A variety of factors can cause dry skin – the weather, fatty acid deficiencies, and bacterial infections. Fido may be responding to the discomfort by licking at his skin and fur. Supplements such as Flaxseed oil which contains a balance ratio of Omega 3 and 6 which helps to eliminates dry skin:

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4. Hormonal imbalances

If your pooch is not producing enough thyroid hormones or is putting out too much cortisol, superficial skin infections can occur. These present themselves as little, red, hot spots and your dog may scratch or chew at it as if bothered by allergies.

 

5. Pain

When you notice your dog chewing or licking excessively, always check if he is physically injured or if there is something causing him physical discomfort. For example, if Fido is chewing on his paw, he might have a thorn stuck in it. Compulsive chewing or licking can also be a response to orthopedic problems, including arthritis and hip dysplasia.

 

6. Parasites

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Image credit:Doggroomingtutorial

 

One of most common causes of excessive scratching, licking and chewing is fleas, ticks, and mites. Although ticks are often visible to the naked eye, fleas often go unseen unless there is a large infestation, and mites are microscopic. So do take your dog to a vet to make sure he isn’t suffering from parasitic attacks.

 

Image Credit: Alan Sii (https://www.flickr.com/photos/t_talan/5183858142/in/photolist-8U5Cqw-8oiM6W-gLoCJZ-4HfexC-cjXooG-j4vGBq-7Xqqvp-P6x1i-A5QLD-29JDzT-6FV79W-ahcp4c-dUyStE-4Tph28-j4vESJ-Cmmya-4TP94u-2maHMy-sn3su-5mkS9-j4vBfy-j4tpLr-4JAtsF-sX3oa-fuVikK-FmNze-nMCvA-a128EE-7z6Y5J-dZ6Fp-5LtNjo-2YmEaD-e52UHm-57QneJ-pqAAPQ-d2ANf-59BdWR-f1hrr-6nQnhd-8rSDqt-4b4pd7-3AMtt-5hVTzJ-5hRxhP-7smmCp-5hVTdo-7sUain-9tHmjM-5VEraz-3SUYQD), So Itchy, CC (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)