There are a number of reasons why dogs will scratch either themselves or furniture. More commonly they will scratch themselves and leave the pawing to their cat counterparts. Regardless of the reason, however, there are times when their scratching is harmful – both to themselves or to their surroundings.
The steps for how to stop a dog from scratching are arranged under four things that may cause your dog to scratch in the first place. Each cause is followed by the steps you can take to stop or prevent your dog from engaging in such behavior. The four categories are arranged in order of priority and the 14 steps that follow are sorted based on their simplicity and efficacy.
1. A Wound
The standard practice when a dog has a surgery or a procedure done of some sort is to shave the hair from around the area. As the hair grows back, it will often generate a strong itch. Likewise, being outside with a wound is good for the healing process, but the fresh air will often irritate the area and also cause itchiness too. To keep a dog from scratching in these situations, follow one or more of the following 4 steps:
1. Put a Shirt of Some Kind on Your Dog
Not only are they cute fashion accessories, they prevent your dog from accessing their wound directly.
2. Cone of Shame
Cones have a bad rap, but they remain a minimally un-invasive solution to the question of how to stop dog from scratching at his/her wound(s).
3. Cold Compress
Something cool will soothe the itching and reduce your dog’s urge to scratch
4. Utilize Anti-itching Cream and/or No-lick Spray
If the above steps are unsuccessful, you can purchase anti-itching cream and apply to the area surrounding the wound. Just make sure to confirm with your vet first to make sure you choose one that will not make the wound heal slower.
2. Dry Skin
Dogs will often scratch outside of being injured. The second cause of this is dry skin. Three main causes are: allergies, climate or a protein imbalance due to an improper diet. Below are 5 steps for stopping dry skin with natural products:
1. Rub Olive Oil into Your Dog’s Fur
Rub in 1 tablespoon every few days or approx. 2-3 times a week as needed
2. Feed Your Dog Plain and/or Probiotic Yogurt
Small dogs should have 1 teaspoon while larger dogs should consume 2 teaspoons, both a few times a week.
3. Mist Your Dog with Apple Cider Vinegar or Soak Their Paws
Mix water and apple cider vinegar in a 50/50 solution and use a spray bottle or sponge to apply daily as needed. Be careful not to get it in open wounds, or directly on skin as it may sting.
4. Massage Coconut Oil into Your Dog’s Fur
Coconut oil will soothe the itching and will condition your dog’s fur. Apply daily as needed.
5. Pamper Your Dog with an Oatmeal Bath
Let your dog soak in an oatmeal bath for no less than 15 minutes to soothe and nourish their skin
Ticks and fleas are sometimes the bane of a pet owner’s existence. There are a myriad of home remedies that will help soothe itching and/or prevent ticks and fleas. Here are 3 steps for eradicating these pesky parasites in order to keep your dog scratch-free:
1. Make an Apple Cider Vinegar Solution for Your Dog (Bonus: It Helps Dry Skin Too!)
- Mix water and apple cider vinegar in a 50/50 solution
- Spray your dog with the solution & let sit for a few minutes
- Use a tick comb to remove the bugs
2. Make an Apple Cider Vinegar Solution for Your Home (Specifically for Fleas)
- Mix water (1 gallon), apple cider vinegar (1/2 gallon), lemon juice (16oz) and witch hazel (8oz) and spray around your home’s interior
- Repeat every 2-7 days, or monthly depending on the fleas
3. Apply Baking Soda and Water to the Problematic Area on Your Dog
- Mix water with baking soda to form a paste (you can also mix baking soda & salt with apple cider vinegar for a spray)
- Apply directly to your dog’s skin where ticks are often found
- Apply as needed – this will draw out ticks and soothe itchiness
4. Compulsive Scratching
If your dog tends to scratch without any of the three previous causes, it may be that they aren’t even really aware they are doing it. It could also be caused by boredom or anxiety. Here are 2 steps for reducing this type of scratching:
1. Teach Your Dog Tricks
Teaching your dog to shake and/or do puppy push-ups will help them to develop motor skills. It will also train them to recognize certain movements. Over time, it reduces their compulsive behavior.
2. Invest in New Toys
If you suspect or know that your dog is scratching out of boredom, invest in a few new toys every couple of months. You can also rotate the toys that your dog has in order to keep them ‘new’ and interesting for a longer period of time.
Each dog has a unique makeup and personality. To stop a dog from scratching doesn’t usually take too much effort, it’s the steps to prevent it that may take some creativity. Feel free to combine a number of these steps across categories until you find a few methods that both you and your dog are comfortable with. There are plenty more suggestions out there as well! If you have found something that works for you and your dog feel free to share below in the comments.
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