At your wit’s end over listening to your dog scratch, or seeing him lick his paw or bite his tail constantly? If you think you are just imagine how your dog feels.
Scratching, licking and chewing compulsively are quite common in dogs and have a variety of causes. They may also be harmful. A term known as a “hot spot” is one of the first signs that your dog might have a problem. It first appears as a red, wet, irritated area and with persistent chewing or licking it will get worse. Hot spots, or Acute Moist Dermatitis, may occur anywhere on your dog’s body but most likely on the head, chest or hips. The incessant scratching, licking or biting the area will cause the hot spot to become larger and very sore rather quickly.
Some of the reasons these hot spots occur will vary and range from allergies to boredom to parasite infestation. Allergies can be triggered from mold, or pollen, or a contact dermatitis when the dog may have encountered a substance like pesticide or herbicide in the yard. Boredom or anxiety can be manifested in physical responses to psychological upsets and can be like obsessive-compulsive disorder causing them to scratch, lick or chew causing severe damage to themselves. Dry skin from a change in the weather or from fatty acid deficiencies may all cause the scratching, licking or biting. Hormonal imbalances, if your dog isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone or putting out too much cortisol will make your dog become irritated and aggressively bother the hotspot that develops. Parasites such as fleas, ticks or mites could also be the problem.
Remember when trying to determine why your dog is exhibiting this behavior be sure to consider the possibility that something is causing physical pain. It could be as simple as a thorn stuck in the foot pad, but it could also be a response to an orthopedic problem such as back pain or even hip dysplasia. Be sure to schedule an exam with your veterinarian immediately to help bring relief to your loyal friend.