Is your German Shepherd itching a lot? When dogs are itchy, they are grateful for any relief. The first step is to find out why it happened and steps to remedy the situation to prevent future occurrences.
How much scratching is normal in a German Shepherd?
Every dog scratch itself and every dog nibbles its fur. This is part of normal personal care or is used to relieve social stress. For example, if a dog does not know exactly how to behave in a particular situation, he just sits down and scratches himself. Occasional scratching is not a cause for concern at all, but what is “occasional”?
The boundary between “normal” scratching and “sick” scratching is fluid. So, you cannot say, if the dog scratches once a day this is normal, scratching twice is morbid. In general, however, if the dog goes so far as to develop bald or even bloody spots while scratching and nibbling, this is not normal but an occasion to go to the vet.
If you think your German Shepherd is itching a lot, you count how often he does it and watch in which situations and where it scratches itself. This can give important clues as to the cause of the scratching.
If your dog scratches whenever he is resting and stops as soon as he gets distracted, this speaks for real itching. The stronger the itching, the worse it can be distracted from it.
If, on the other hand, the dog suddenly scratches, if you just want something from him or if other dogs are scurrying around him, it rather indicates a “skip action” to relieve stress.
Tip: Scratch your dog with an object (for hygiene reasons not with your hand or fingernails). If he then makes scratching movements with his hind legs, this speaks for increased itching.
What are common causes of itching in German Shepherds?
If the skin is irritated by something, it always reacts the same way: with itching, burning and/or inflammation. Itching is therefore a symptom that can have many causes.
The sooner you let your veterinarian get to the bottom of the cause of itching, the better your chances of recovery. Because the skin itching becomes chronic, the treatment usually becomes lengthier.
German Shepherd Itching a Lot – Possible Causes:
- Fungal infection
- Ear infections
- Dry, scaly, or inflamed skin due to other skin diseases
- Plump or inflamed bag glands
- Allergies to environmental allergens
- Feed allergies
- Flea saliva allergy
- Contact allergies
You can detect a severe flea infestation yourself. Either you see a flea, or you find flea faeces by combing your dog with a fine comb. When you place the fine crumbly black-brown flea faeces on a white handkerchief and moisten it dissolves and you see a “blood stain”.
Evidence of a skin disease that is underlying the itching are, for example, reddened skin areas, rash (eczema), pimples, dandruff formation or hair loss. You should leave the more detailed search for the cause of itching to an experienced veterinarian.
For example, he can use “clapping preparations” or tissue samples (biopsies) to determine which bacteria, fungi or mites on the skin are doing their bit and find out what triggers the itching by means of allergy tests.
Sometimes it can be tedious to find the trigger of itching, as rehearsals must be taken again and again until the culprit is found, but it is worth sticking to it!
How can I remedy the itch in my German Shepherd?
Of course, it is best if you can put an end to the cause. In the case of infectious itching, the problem can usually be solved quite quickly by fighting the fleas, mites, or other things with medication.
It becomes more difficult to get rid of the itching if an allergy is the cause, because there is often only one left to treat the symptom itching, while you cannot stop the actual cause.
Therefore, if you cannot stop the cause of itching in your German Shepherd, the following options remain to relieve the itching:
- local treatment of the skin with supportive skin care products (shampoo and lotion)
- systemic treatment with medications prescribed by the veterinarian
- local treatment of the skin with medications prescribed by the veterinarian
- consistent ignorance of scratching
Since itching is amplified by many interacting factors, supportive measures such as proper skin care and an optimal diet often have an amazing effect. You can help to improve the skin condition so that your dog’s personal “itching threshold” is lowered and the scratching stops.
Tip: Get Rid of Fleas Once and For All
It is important that not only the flea-infested dog is treated, but also other animals and especially the surrounding area, since most fleas and their flea offspring are in dog blankets, dog beds and co. The sooner you get to the flea plague, the easier it is to end it.
Regular flea prophylaxis protects your dog quite reliably. If your dog suffers from a flea allergy, so reacts to the flea saliva with an allergic skin reaction, you should make sure that the agent used kills fleas quickly so that they have no chance of biting your dog more often.
Why does itching increase over time?
Chronic itching, for example itching caused by an allergy, often gets worse. On the one hand, the allergy itself often becomes stronger, on the other hand, the itching becomes independent over time.
In case of long-lasting itching, dogs therefore react faster and on more and more occasions with itching. You may also know this: if you have an itchy area of skin and put yourself in the shower, the heat and mechanical pressure of the drops on the skin alone can increase the itching into the unbearable, not to mention the feeling of dryness after showering.
The more the dog traumatizes the skin by scratching, nibbling, or scouring, the more stubborn the itching unfortunately becomes, because the skin becomes inflamed and the inflammation in turn promotes itching.
The psyche also plays a crucial role in the perception of itching. Boredom increases itching as well as stress, for example due to separation fears. To minimize such psychic itching enhancers, you need to provide variety, find out what is stressful for your dog and stop the cause of stress, or use behavioral therapy to reduce stress in certain situations.
In summary, if after performing all the above methods and you find that your German Shepherd is itching a lot without any improvement, consider visiting your nearby veterinarian.