How to Stop your Dog Scratching Itself

Spring is that time of year when humans start getting hay-fever and our pets start itching. The wonderful Sydney climate, high density living and all those beautiful flowering shrubs and exuberantly growing grasses tend to be the main culprits of seasonal itching. So what can we do to help our itchy pets?

Wandering Jew

Contact allergies to a plant called Wandering Jew cause red, irritated feet. This common ground cover is often used as a quick-growing filler in garden beds and is incredibly hardy.

There are different types of Wandering Jew, including Purple Heart, Moses-in-a-Cradle, Scurvy Weed, Zebrina, Trad, Turtle Vine and Inch Plant. They are all related plants that tend to be invasive weeds. They are generally fleshy, spreading plants that love shady areas under trees and also love to grow in amongst other plants.

Some examples of what this plant looks like include:

wanderingjew

If your dog regularly licks or chews his feet, keeping him away from Wandering Jew can be an easy way to solve the problem. For some dogs simply wiping down the feet with a wet towel after walking on the plant can help reduce irritation. Avoid the plant and those itchy feet usually improve, so long as there is no secondary infection.

Itchy Ears

The warmer weather also brings on ear infections. An average 10kg dog has an ear canal that is approximately 10cm long and there is an L-shaped bend, making ears very difficult to keep clean.  This warm, dark cavity is the ideal environment for a bacterial or yeast infection, particularly if those ears are hairy or floppy.

A regular ear clean every 2 weeks with a good quality ear cleaner such as Epi-Otic can prevent those dirty, itchy ears turning into a full-blown infection. For tips on how to do a good, thorough ear clean, you can read more here.

If your dog’s ears have become red and smelly you may also need some antibiotic ear drops, so it’s a good idea to see your vet.

Fleas

The dreaded fleas can be difficult to control in warmer weather, particularly if you’ve been a little lax with your flea prevention during winter.  If you are struggling with fleas and your dog continues to scratch itself despite using a monthly top-spot, you may need to do a good vacuum, then a flea bomb to really sort out the problem. We also suggest washing your dog’s bed on a hot cycle in the washing machine each week (over 60ºC for more than 10 minutes).

You can read more here on how to tackle other areas of the home, including the backyard.

Seasonal Allergies

If your dog is still itchy during springtime despite tackling those ears, fleas and keeping away from Wandering Jew, it is quite likely you are dealing with atopic dermatitis. There are some very good treatments available for allergies, including antihistamines, topical sprays and creams, shampoo therapy and immunotherapy to desensitise your dog. We also find Atopica, an allergy treatment prescribed by vets, helps 70% of dogs with allergies. If you would like some help with your dog’s allergies, please chat to one of our vets about strategies that will work for your furry family member.

Help Soothe & Repair the Skin

If your dog is suffering from itchy, irritated skin, there are products that can help:

  • Lotions such as Resisoothe contain colloidal oatmeal and vitamin E to soothe irritated and itchy skin
  • Calming gels such as PAW TriDerm soothe the skin and reduce itch and inflammation that can affect pets with skin allergies
  • Vitamins like PAW Coat, Skin & Nails Multivitamin Chews support a shiny, healthy coat and skin, all in a tasy chew