The Dog is Scratching, But No Fleas! - Simply For Dogs
Dog Scratching

The Dog is Scratching, But No Fleas!


Medically Reviewed by Veterinarian Angela Dwyer, DVM on June 30, 2018

I’ve been really lucky when it’s come to fleas. I’ve never had a problem at all – I don’t know why that should be since I’ve never lived in a “flea free” area (if there even is such a thing!) All I know is that fleas have never been a problem with any of my dogs.

That said, I know that fleas can be very problematic. Some of my friends have reported flea infestations so bad that they can’t even get a decent night’s sleep.

So what are you going to do? Is your dog’s scratching due to fleas, or to something else?

The Short Answer

Dogs can itch for any number of different reasons, and it might not always be fleas. It could simply be dry skin, especially if you live in an area where there’s not all that much humidity. It could also be due to allergies. Much of the time, dog owners don’t consider environmental conditions, but the fact is, if the air is dry, your dog could develop dandruff, and even cracking in his undercoat. This can result in scratching.

Diet is another factor that can come into play when it comes to scratching.  Some dog foods can be very drying and can lead to skin dehydration. If you think that might be the cause of your dog’s scratching, you should consult your veterinarian.

Sometimes, if dog food is the culprit, adding digestive enzymes to your dog’s food can help. They contribute to the release of good nutrients and bacteria that can assist in the digestive process. They can also work to improve hydration in the skin and hair.

Diagnosis Can Be Problematic

Sometimes, when you’re trying to find out why your dog is scratching, you might not know if it’s allergies or just dry skin. Sometimes, too, dogs react badly to vaccinations and might scratch vigorously for a while after being inoculated.

Poor breeding can also be a cause – at times, people get dogs from puppy mills (see 5 Reasons Why Puppy Mills Must Be Stopped for more on this), and an unscrupulous breeder tells the purchaser that the animal is somehow allergic to the grass in the kennel, when the real reason for the itching is parasite infection.

It really doesn’t matter what the cause is – the itching has to be corrected.

How to Stop Scratching When There are No Fleas

One way of reducing scratching is to feed your dog probiotics. It makes for a better diet, but it can take a while – up to three months – to take effect.

Other Ways of Treating Scratching When There are No Fleas

Scratching doesn’t always mean fleas, so there are other things you can do besides rushing out for flea powder. The first course of action is to bathe your dog, using clear water and a moisturizing shampoo. If you don’t bathe your dog yourself, ask your groomer what he or she recommends.

Dog Scratching

Also, feed moist food. I don’t know why this should be, but sometimes, dry feeding seems to lead to itching. Most of the time, dry food is the better choice, but if your dog is constantly scratching, but no fleas are present, try offering wet food.

Always provide fresh water – this is pretty basic. Water moisturizes and leads to well-hydrated skin. If your dog’s skin is moist, then chances are he won’t itch.

You can also offer oils like flax seed or lecithin, in amounts of anywhere from a quarter teaspoon to one tablespoon in any given meal. Again, this moisturizes the skin. Kelp and alfalfa are also known to prevent itching.

The Final Word

It can be hard to identify the cause of discomfort when your dog is itching, but there are no fleas. Keep a close eye out, and try to determine the cause of the discomfort, and then take appropriate measures. If you’re at a loss as to what to do, consult your veterinarian.

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