Dog scratching is normal behaviour and a standard part of their daily grooming.
If it becomes excessive, fleas could be the problem, but if there is no sign of these parasites, the dog is at risk of underlying issues such as food allergies, atopy, and infections.
It is worth consulting a vet for medical examinations and proper treatment of the problems causing the dog discomfort. Treatments usually depend on the causes of scratching.
Below is a detailed stretch of why your dog may be scratching but has no fleas:
Can a dog itch and not have fleas?
Itching is discomfort that provokes a desire to scratch and worsens in warm weather.
At first, many skin diseases don't cause itching. If a dog scratches but has no signs of fleas, scratching may indicate that the underlying cause has been present for a while.
Here are ways to help a dog owner distinguish if their dog has no fleas for proper handling of the dog's condition:
- Using a white sheet or towel, have the dog lay on it. Use a comb for brushing while looking out for dark, gritty specks or spots. If they are falling, it could be flea dirt.
- Closely inspect the dog's skin for tiny insects, especially around the armpits, tail base, neck, and groin areas. Fleas are rampant in these areas because they are warm and protected.
- Look for red or bumpy skin around the areas, as mentioned earlier. There may be larvae that have hatched or tiny fleas that move away quickly.
Fleas move first and hide well, and are hard to find. If you have gauged that fleas are not causing your dog's itching, you should consult a vet immediately.
If the situation is ignored, it could result in further complicated infections that may lead to longer treatments to multiple medications affecting the dog's quality of life.
Why does my dog keep scratching if he doesn't have fleas?
Dogs scratch and bite to relieve themselves of irritations that may be caused by the following:
Environmental allergic reaction, atopic dermatitis, is to airborne pollens, dander, trees, cleaning products, mould, or grass particles. It is seasonal and causes a lot of discomfort to atopic dogs, who often scratch their feet and develop frequent ear infections.
Symptoms include: excessive scratching, itching, sneezing, and head shaking.
These allergies involve immune responses to items such as milk, soy, corn, wheat, chicken, and eggs. Allergies are often underlying issues of food intolerance where dogs gradually react to an offending element in their diet.
Symptoms may include diarrhoea, poor coat and skin, itching, vomiting, and chronic ear infections.
Some mites can be detected using a microscope, while others are not visible to the naked eye and are challenging to spot. Demodex mites are principal suspects for dog hair loss and scaling and cause itching, although they are not infectious to humans.
On the other hand, Sarcoptic mites cause intense itching around the dog's chest, ears, and elbows and are infectious even to humans.
Cheyletiella, predominantly rabbit mite, is not an ordinary dog problem. They are spread by wild rabbits and cause itching to hypersensitive dogs. Also, these mites don't affect humans but can cause skin irritations.
High-quality food in a balanced diet ensures healthy skin and coat for healthy dogs, including essential vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals.
Poor nutrition and deficiency of Omega 3 and 6 lead to itching and definite scratching by dogs.
Minerals act as beneficial antioxidants, while zinc, selenium, and copper maintain the skin's elasticity. Their deficit may result in scratching.
Also, a lack of vitamin A and E may lead to scaly skin and itching as they are responsible for maintaining a dog's healthy skin.
When a dog has an overabundance of yeast in its body, the result is a yeast infection. Yeasts are budding, usually in spore-like forms of fungi, and live naturally in the body without causing illnesses.
They thrive in moist areas like the armpit, paws, ears, and face folds in some dog breeds.
Its symptoms include a distinct odour, scratching, licking, greasy skin, hair loss, shaking the head, and scaly skin.
Excessive scratching, licking, and rubbing are typical among dogs with bacterial infections. Most bacteria camp on dogs' skins without symptoms until a suitable environment is provided. This is often around irritated or broken skin and skin folds.
Dogs are infested with many bacterias, but the most common are pseudintermedius which thrive in humid conditions adding moisture and oil to the dog's skin.
Its symptoms are hair loss, fluid secretion, and odour.
How can I relieve my dog's itching without fleas?
Choosing the proper treatment for your dog's scratching problem when they have no fleas depends on the cause of the itching.
Contacting a vet immediately at the first signs of scratching is vital. The vet will physically examine the dog's entire body while paying attention to hot spots and inflamed areas.
Ensure to give the vet detailed information about the dog's medical history. Also, the vet may take a skin swab to test for yeast and bacterial infections.
Blood and allergy tests may also determine immune disorders, hormonal conditions, and allergies.
Below are treatment options available for common scratching causes:
- Probiotics aid in increasing beneficial bacterias in the dog's gut, improving its balance and immunity system. Safe Guard's probiotic is vet approved, formulated with highly researched bacterial ingredients in addition to fulvic and humic acid, perfect for your dog's health.
- Over-the-counter Oils and Shampoos: Most treatments only offer temporary relief for dogs. Many dog skins are different, and ingredients in these products may give positive results, while some dogs have bad reactions. Always contacting a vet to get to the root of the problem is essential.
- Antihistamines: Like over-the-counter, antihistamines don't address underlying issues of a dog scratching and only offer temporary solutions. They may cause trembling, drowsiness, panting, or discomfort for dogs if not given accurately. After administering antihistamines for proper treatments, it is crucial to make an appointment with a vet.
- Prescription steroids: When prescribed by vets, steroids can be effective, but dogs may develop unpleasant side effects such as thirst, weight gain, and increased urination. They may also gradually grow to be aggressive and develop other negative behaviours.
Specific scratching causes need particular treatment options. For instance, if itching is caused by shampoos or cleaning products, the solution can be to switch to other products.
- Treatment of food allergies: The elimination diet method has proven the best for containing food allergies. Certain food ingredients are excluded from the dog's diet and added back slowly for evaluation. Always ensure a balanced diet with all nutrients the dog needs.
- Treatment of environmental allergies: Preventing these allergies is nearly impossible as good walking and general exercises are needed for the dog's health, and keeping them from pollen may be hectic. Treatments can go beyond one method, and vets may prescribe antihistamines for control.
How do you stop a dog from scratching without fleas?
Here are some home remedies to help your dog with their scratching:
- Eliminate particular food from the dog's diet with directions from your vet. You may add fatty acids to alleviate their dry skin and improve their coat.
- Give your vet's prescribed medications like antibiotics, anti-itch products, and steroids to the latter for the underlying issues.
- You can try preventing excessive scratching and biting by using bitter sprays on your dog and having the dog wear a unique collar.
- If scratching and biting result from boredom, give the dog toys to play with and adequate daily exercises.
Special home remedies for a dog's scratching include:
Apple Cider Vinegar for Itchy Dogs
This is a naturally dry and itchy skin soother. It has antifungal and antiseptic properties that may sting when applied to itchy raw skin. Get a spray water half filled with water and apple cider for irritated skin and open wounds.
Oatmeal Bath for Itchy Dogs
Most hypoallergenic dog shampoos contain oatmeal as their first ingredients to soothe itchiness and remedy dry, itchy skin. Grind oatmeal into powder form, then sprinkle in the dog's warm bath. One can also make an oatmeal paste after grinding by adding water in small amounts to make a spreadable texture. Ensure to target irritated areas keeping the paste in contact with the dog's skin.
Sugar-Free Plain Yoghourt
Unsweetened-plain yoghurt for dogs has numerous health benefits. It may be mixed with other foods to help with digestion. It is suitable for dogs with hives, allergies, and rashes but before giving yoghurt to your dog, consult with a vet first.
Coconut Oil for Itchy Dogs
Coconut oil has a high viscosity that helps soothe irritated dog skins effectively. Most dog products contain coconut oils because of their antifungal and antibacterial properties. They are also effective moisturisers. Massage gently onto the dog's coat and skin for perfect results.
Scratching or itching by dogs is mostly a sign and not a diagnosis of particular infections.
Dogs are accustomed to occasional scratching primarily as part of their grooming, but if it increases in frequency, there's a possibility of an underlying problem.
Fleas are a common problem for dogs, and their eggs develop into adults faster in warmer seasons, making them very elusive.
However, after medical examinations prove that your dog is not flea-infested, allergies and skin infections could be at play.
The most common symptoms to check out are hot spots resulting from the dog's excessive scratching, licking, and biting.
Ensure to schedule an appointment immediately with a vet during the onset of the symptoms for check-ups, diagnosis, and possible treatment plans.