Have you ever noticed how much your dog scratches itself? It’s an interesting question and the truth is that most dog owners don’t really give a second thought to the amount of scratching their dog does.
In fact, many dog owners simply accept that a dog which often licks or scratches itself is perfectly normal. However, the truth is that your dog shouldn’t scratch itself any more than you do (which presumably isn’t that often).
Observe your dog over an hour or so and notice how much is scratches or licks itself. If it is more often than a couple of times then you may have a problem. Think of it from your pet’s perspective – if it is scratching a lot it obviously has some sort of skin irritation which will be at the least annoying for it, and it may even be causing it discomfort or pain. If it is an obvious issue then it should be addressed.
The first thing most people think of as the cause of scratching is fleas. In actual fact, this is one of the least reasons your dog may have an irritation. Of course, if possible you can inspect the dog’s skin and fur to see if there is any evidence of fleas. If it is not immediately obvious then it is best to look for other (and more likely) causes.
Some animals can react to things in its environment. These included natural elements such as grasses, pollens and plants. A change in season can set off allergic reactions, and are more common in the summer and spring. This is because many of the offending substances are present in the air. Dogs can often be outside more during these seasons as well.
Both fleas and natural irritants can be combatted with medicines from a vet or pet shop. However, before going to that trouble and expense there is one other allergy-causing factor that you should look at closely – the food you are feeding your dog.
In fact, allergies caused by ingredients in dog food is one of the most common causes of skin problems in dogs. If you are not feeding a quality food you can be almost certain that it will be the cause of the problem.
It is a simple fact that you cannot feed things to your dog that don’t agree with it without it trying to eliminate it from its system. The ways its body will try to do this include runny stools, bad breath and body odor – and skin rashes and sores.
All of the following dog food ingredients are common causes of allergies in dogs. Most of them have no place in an animal’s diet:
- Animal fat
- Dairy products
- Cereal by-products
- Artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives
If your dog suffers from any of the symptoms above check out the ingredients of the food you are using. Also be very mindful of any additional foods you allow the dog to eat such as table scraps.
Many people have the attitude that the dog can just eat anything. They seem to think that a smelly dog that scratches a lot is “normal”. However the same people are not very happy when they run up an expensive vet bill.
The food you feed your dog does make a massive difference to its health and wellbeing. It need not cost you any more as with a decent food you feed less anyway. But putting a little bit of care into what you feed will definitely be worth it.