Why is my dog scratching if he doesn’t have fleas?

Written by Heidi Lyon, Groomer, 1000 Acre Wood

The answer can be a many things, but here are the most common:

1) Dogs, unlike humans, don’t need a bath every day, more like once a month.  Many of my customers will bathe their dog every week but don’t realize that, in doing so, they’ve stripped all the natural oils that the dog’s skin needs to stay hydrated and not itch.  Washing a dog weekly can be done, I do it for many customers, but you have to be sure you use a shampoo that is NOT soap based, like Buddy Wash.  This way the dog gets clean and smells are removed and the necessary oils remain on the dog’s skin.  Always be sure you are using the right shampoo for your dog and do not use your hair shampoo for these reasons.

2) Humidity changes year round with the seasons and as this affects our skin, it also affects your dog’s skin.  Once the humidity drops and it starts to get cooler, the skin on some dogs gets drier and the increase in dry dirt you’ll find outside also adds to the itch.  Dogs play outside, come in with dirt and dust, and that not only dries their skin but can become caked on them as well.  Regular soap-free baths and hot spot treatments can help, but what I have found most effective is using baby lotions or conditioning sprays.  Put a little bit in your hands, enough to cover your hands well, and them rub it into your dog’s skin by going against the hair and getting to the skin.  This won’t leave an oily residue, smells wonderful, and your dog’s skin will LOVE the added moisture.  During this time of year, from November to March, I would recommend ONLY using soap free baths to be sure you keep as much moisture in the skin as possible.

3) Many items that begin to appear during the holidays can often cause allergies to flare up, some you might not even know your dog has!  Many dogs are allergic to pine sap and real Christmas trees are irresistible to dogs.  The poking of the needles can definitely cause itching in numerous spots.  Also, many new foods might be introduced to the dog during the holidays and food allergies can cause itching, hand and foot biting, and even puffy eyes and lips.  If you believe allergies may be the problem, keep your pet away from fresh trees in your home and limit the food they eat.  If you do not see an improvement in a few days, you might want to consider a visit to your vet to determine what allergy, if any, could be the culprit.  Keep in mind, many items that are common human allergy triggers could also affect your pet.

These are only the most common triggers to obsessive scratching and biting, though there are many!  If you try to remedy these situations and there is no improvement, be sure to visit your vet.  Other, more serious, problems might be the answer and they do not want to be overlooked.

Heidi Lyon, Groomer, 1000 Acre Wood, Dahlonega, GA

Heidi learned grooming on the show circuit back when she was 16.   She started to show her ShihTzu and spent time with many other local groomers who helped her learn.  While she can groom for show, Heidi found herself giving personalized cuts to home pets.  Back in 2010 she opened 1000 Acre Wood, which she still runs, and Heidi also serves on the Board of Directors of TLC Humane Society.  In addition to her board duties, she grooms dogs that are rescues, for fundraising, as volunteer, etc. She is always working to make an impact for the animals in her community and have 14 animals of her own at home.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way those of Cloud Star Corporation.