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Itching Dogs: 'Tis the Season


If there’s a season for itching dogs, this may be it. Veterinary dermatologist Dr. Ursula Thomas explains on my national Steve Dale’s Pet World radio show that there are many reasons dogs scratch or lick.

Those reasons can range from “I have a quick [benign] itch” to the discomfort of flea or mosquito bites to an allergic response to flea or mosquito bites, which is far worse than the typical bite discomfort. In all, there are a lot of potential explanations for a scratching dog, and, perhaps, even a combination of factors. And, if itching gets bad enough, dogs may scratch or lick themselves raw, which can create a secondary infection.

How intensive the itching is and when the dog is scratching both matter. Also, where the dog is scratching may be key to helping a veterinarian determine what the dog is sensitive to. It’s a great idea to pull out your phone and video as the dog licks and/or scratches. Obviously, a dog is not likely to recreate the itching in an exam room at your vet’s office.

If mosquito bites are the culprit, a double defense against the mosquito-spread heartworm disease should be considered. Vectra 3D repels heartworm-carrying mosquitoes, and if there is no bite, obviously there will be no heartworm (to be clear, this is not considered a heartworm preventive, but rather it’s an adjunct, the “double” in double defense), and there is no scratching for dogs sensitive to mosquito bites if there are no bites to begin with.



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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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