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Why is Your Dog Scratching?

Joseph M Sabol

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Have you seen your dogs coat go from shiny and healthy to dull and bare? Does your dog scratch and lick at himself constantly? We dog owners have probably all seen our pets go through this at some point. Although fleas are often the culprit, there are many other causes for skin and coat problems in dogs. Causes of skin and coat problems include, environmental, nutritional, allergic, neurogenic, infectious and parasitic. This article will discuss parasitic skin problems.

One canine skin condition is mange. External parasites cause mange. There are 2 types of mange, Demodex mange and Sarcoptic mange. Both types are caused by mites. Demodex mange is most common in young dogs and an outbreak is attributed to an insufficient immune system. Poor nutrition and environment can also trigger an outbreak.

So, you're probably wondering where this parasite came from and how it got on your dog. Veterinarians think all dogs have a small number of these mites living in their skin and certain factors will cause them to become active in some dogs. A healthy dog with a resistant immune system will usually be able to fight the infestation and it will not reappear.

If treatment is required, there are several options that your vet may use. One option is a lime/sulphur dip. Vets have found that topical creams are not effective but the pet wormer Ivermectin is sometimes used. It is not labeled for Demodex treatment but some vets find it helpful when used carefully, as it can be toxic. Collies and related breeds are especially sensitive to Ivermectin so it would not be appropriate for those breeds. To support a healthy immune system, it is recommended that you feed your dog a high quality, meat based diet. An all natural pet vitamin can also boost your dogs overall health.

Sarcoptic mange is extremely easy to spread. It causes mangy, ragged, coat and dry flaky skin. It is very irritating and itchy. The scabies mite that causes Sarcoptic mange is very difficult to find on the dogs skin, therefore it is often diagnosed as general dermatitis or a skin allergy. If a vet prescribes a cortisone treatment to calm the itching for allergy or dermatitis, it will cause the mange to become worse because cortisone causes the scabies mites to reproduce more quickly. Ivermectin used in the correct dose is effective in treatment of Sarcoptic mange but should not be used in Collies and related breeds.

To relieve the itching and soothe the flaky skin and hot spots, a vitamin supplement with Omega fatty acids is very helpful. It will also restore the dogs fur back to a full, healthy coat.

Joseph M. Sabol is a world class Doberman breeder. Please go to or to for further information


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