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What Does it Mean When Your Puppy Scratches but They Don't Have Fleas

 by jaime on 22 Jun 2014 |
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Getting a new puppy is an exciting time in the life of any household. Welcoming a new four-legged friend to the family is always fun, but inexplicable medical problems can replace your happiness with fear and anxiety.
 
One of the most vexing problems dog owners face is a puppy that constantly scratches itself. In some cases the itching and subsequent scratching can become so severe that the animal literally rubs its hair off, causing sore spots and making the problem even worse.
 
When pet owners see their puppies scratching themselves, the first thing they think of is flea infestation. Fleas are extremely common, and they love to hitch a ride whenever a dog happens by. Fleas are also extremely tiny and hard to detect, so it is important to check your puppy carefully. Even if you think fleas are not to blame, going over the puppy one more time with a fine-toothed flea comb is a good way to rule them out.
 
If you have truly ruled out fleas, you need to look to other possible causes of itching. In some cases the cause could be as simple as rough carpet. If your new puppy has been spending a lot of time rolling around on the rug, the tiny fibers in the carpet could be irritating its skin. You can test this theory by getting your puppy a dog bed and encouraging it to play there, or by placing the dog in an uncarpeted room to see if the itching and scratching goes away.
 
Once you have ruled out itchy carpets, you need to think about allergies as a source of itchy skin and persistent scratching. Puppies can suffer from all kinds of allergies, from food allergies to reactions to household cleaners and chemicals. If you suspect allergies are to blame, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian. A good vet will be able to look at the symptoms, including the condition of your puppy's skin, to determine whether allergies are to blame.
 
The vet will also be able to prescribe medications to reduce allergy symptoms and alleviate constant scratching. Your vet may put the puppy on a short-term steroid to verify the diagnosis and reduce the symptoms. If the symptoms subside, the vet may prescribe additional medications to keep the allergy symptoms at bay.
 
A sudden change in what your puppy eats can also cause itching and make your dog scratch incessantly. If you bought your puppy from a breeder, ask the seller what brand of food they feed. If you can, sticking with that brand is best. If that is not possible, you should slowly wean the puppy off the old food, introducing the new brand slowly until it is the sole source of nutrition. A sudden change can upset your puppy's delicate digestive system, resulting not only in scratching but vomiting and diarrhea as well. It is also a good idea to talk to your vet when changing foods. The vet can recommend supplements to ease the transition and give your new puppy the nutrients it needs to grow big and strong.
 
In the end, identifying the source of a scratching problem is an exercise in careful elimination. Since so many things can cause severe itching and constant scratching in a puppy, it is important to rule out each potential cause one at a time. Once you know what is causing the scratching, you can work on solving the problem and getting your puppy off to a great start in your home.

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