Figuring Out What Is Causing Your German Shepherds Scratching
The German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County explains that it is important not to make any assumptions when your dog suddenly starts scratching.
Rather, it is important to rule out both behavioral as well as environmental causes to see what causes the itching to clear up.
Behavior reasons why your GSD might be scratching
Some German Shepherds may actually just need more enrichment, exercise, activity, or playtime.
Because the GSD is such a sensitive and intelligent dog breed, these dogs can start to self-harm by chewing at the skin if they get bored or lonely.
Boredom can lead to other destructive behaviors like digging, chewing things around the house, and barking.
Systemic reasons why your GSD might be scratching
Problems with thyroid function, endocrine disruption or immune system malfunction can also cause skin that dries out and becomes itchy.
Sometimes testing reveals a hidden metabolic or systemic disease or sensitivity that is the real cause of the itching.
Environmental reasons why your GSD might be scratching
German Shepherds can be very sensitive to environmental toxins, including exposure to herbicides or pesticides or insecticides, toxic house or lawn plants, air pollution, seasonal pollen, mold or mildew, and similar triggers for scratching.
It can be worth taking a second look at your lawn care and gardening products as well as what may be growing in and around areas where you and your dog walk regularly.
Other reasons why your GSD might be scratching
Why Do German Shepherds Nibble
Nibbling is the gentle bite your dog will make on your body, especially on your toes! This German Shepherd behavior is generally considered an instinctual behavior characterizing puppies of all breeds, especially during teething.
When young puppies play, you will have noticed that they will display behavior consisting of gently biting each other as part of the game. Your doggo can transfer this nibbling behavior to you or your furniture if no other puppies or pets are around, which is why teething toys such as the KONG Puppy Toy from Amazon are essential. You can even stuff it with treats or peanut butter to keep your GSD entertained.
But German Shepherd Dogs tend to bring this growing up behavior into their adult life. Naturally, newborn German Shepherd puppies will explore their world with their mouths before using their sight and smell. And it appears that this instinct is maintained throughout life for important reasons, as shown by some studies.
A study investigating the meaning and emotion associated with nibbling in dogs concluded that the behavior is not related to negative personality traits. Instead, nibbling has two functions:
Despite these facts, nibbling behavior in German Shepherds can also be triggered by several other factors:
They Cant Help But Kiss Or Lick You
Dogs learn to lick and kiss during puppyhood. Puppies lick their mothers mouths as a signal that they want to get fed. Therefore, they learn early on that licking on the mouth is a way to show they want to be cared for.
As they grow older, kissing also becomes a communication act. Dogs mouths and noses are incredibly sensitive. A few kisses can give them tons of information about you, including where youve been and who youve been with.
While its up to you to set boundaries with your own GSD, know that kissing you only means that they love you and are interested in what youve been doing.
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Why Your German Shepherd Wont Stop Scratching Itself
Each of the different reasons why your GSD wont stop scratching itself will likely come with some clues.
Below, are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
The cause of your GSD scratching itself could be that it has fleas.
This would be more likely if it has been scratching itself in multiple areas of its body and the scratching isnt just confined to one area.
If fleas are causing your German Shepherd to scratch itself, it would help to talk to your vet about what you should do to get rid of the flees.
It would also help to eradicate fleas from your home by doing things such as:
- Washing the bedding with hot soapy water
- Vacuuming the carpets and throwing the bad
- Applying an environmental flee control
- Applying a spray, pellet or non-toxic treatment for the yard
- Treating your German Shepherd with a monthly preventative
Allergies or a rash could also be causing your German Shepherd to scratch itself. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals .
It would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that your German Shepherd started to scratch itself. For example, if it started doing it when you started using a new shampoo on it then it would likely have something to do with it.
If it does seem like injury might be the cause then the best thing to do would be to take it to a vet.
Something stuck in its fur
Regular Itching Vs Problem Itching
Before you ask yourself why your German Shepherd is itching , ask yourself how serious it might be.
As mentioned above, if your GSD is scratching infrequently , and there arent any signs of harm or health damage on their body from the itching, the itching issue might be non serious.
However, if the itching is consistent, intense, doesnt go away, or leads to signs of a more serious health issue, then you as an owner might be concerned.
In the second scenario, you might have a serious itching issue on your hands.
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Whats The Best Way To Treat Parasites And Pests
The best way you can treat parasites and pests is to prevent your german shepherd from getting them in the first place. And fortunately, most ways of prevention are incredibly easy.
First of all, you should keep your german shepherd away from places or things that are infested with fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Some common places include tall grass, high traffic areas and of course other dogs.
On top of this, you should also use a strong anti-pest medication on your pup as well. Normally, your vet will recommend the one they think is best.
If you do this, you can stop your pup from getting parasites in most cases, and if they do get them, theyre easily treated!
Why Wont My German Shepherd Stop Scratching Itself
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might keep scratching itself and what you can do about it.
So, why wont my German Shepherd stop scratching itself? Possible reasons are that it has fleas or allergies, its bored or injured, it has something stuck in its fur, its anxious or that it is compulsive behavior.
There are a number of nuances that you can consider when trying to figure out why your GSD does it. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it will become a lot easier to get it to stop.
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German Shepherd Signs Of Affection
German Shepherds are mostly known for their intelligence, courage, and agility. However, most GSD parents will attest to the fact that theyre incredibly affectionate.
If they could speak, theyd probably tell you they love you and appreciate you a thousand times a day. But since they cant verbalize their feelings, they show their affection in multiple non-verbal ways.
Of course, different dogs will show their love in different ways. Here are some of the most common German Shepherd signs of affection:
Skin Atopy And Scratching In German Shepherd Dogs
As Aubrey Animal Medical Center explains, German Shepherds as a breed are known to be particularly susceptible to allergies.
But in dogs, allergies are more commonly called atopy. What many dog owners dont realize is that when your dog scratches repeatedly, this is basically the same as if you were to sneeze repeatedly.
In other words, where your allergies make your nose run and your throat itchy, in dogs allergies make their skin itch intensely.
Dogs cant itch and scratch as effectively as you can, however. So instead of constant scratching, you might see your German Shepherd rubbing the body part that itches, licking it, biting at it, or pawing at it.
Certain areas of your dogs skin are more likely to feel itchy because of atopy. These areas include the paws, the ears, areas where the skin is folded over, the belly, and around the tail area.
Different types of allergens may cause different areas of your dogs body to itch.
For example, Frito feet is caused by a particular type of bacteria that often invades a dogs paw pads in between the toes and gives off a corn chip-type odor.
Skin atopy is often very treatable, but only after you have been able to identify the specific trigger that is causing it.
German Shepherd owners are most likely to see their dogs suddenly start licking, biting, rubbing, pawing, or scratching at areas at ages one to three.
This is when atopy is most likely to start showing up, although it can happen at any time in your dogs life.
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Keep Them Clean Especially During Allergy Season And Winter
You can keep some allergies to grasses or other plants at bay by wiping your dogs paws when they return home.
You may also find wiping their bellies and legs with hypoallergenic wipes to help ease itching and scratching if theyre allergic to grass or pollen.
My German Shepherd itches and licks her paws a lot in spring because of grass and pollen allergies. So, Ive begun wiping her paws and stomach to help soothe her discomfort.
Use a brand that has ingredients to help with scratching and itching. You need a wipe with soothing ingredients found in them, such as Tropiclean Oxy Med Allergy Relief Wipes that give your dog clean skin to lessen irritations.
Wiping and washing help reduce allergens on your dogs body. You dont need a full bath to get rid of allergy-causing deposits, but you need to pay attention to their paws, belly, legs, and muzzle.
They Allow You To Hug Them
The act of hugging dogs became controversial because a casual, observational study revealed that it gives dogs anxiety. Indeed, dogs may not like hugs because it practically immobilizes them and makes them feel unprotected. But, many dog parents especially those with German Shepherds would attest to the fact that their pups enjoy hugs. At the very least, dogs will tolerate hugs when they come from people they trust and love.
When your GSD allows you to hug them, check for signs of distress, including folded-back ears and half-moon eyes. If you dont see any, youre free to take it as a sign of affection.
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Why Do German Shepherds Howl
Most people will associate howling with the wolf-like Siberian Husky. You may realize that German Shepherds look like wolves but did you know your German Shepherd also manifests this wolf-ancestry behavior once in a while?
Usually, howling is a form of communication that dogs will use with you and other dogs outside their usual barking, groaning, or whining. And unless it is incessant, you have a normal dog, and you need not be worried.
Here are some reasons your German Shepherd will howl:
- You have not had time for him all day, and hes looking for attention.
- Hes sensing some danger, and he wants to warn you about it.
- Another dog in the neighborhood is howling, and he is responding as the pack dog that he is.
- Hes reacting to high-pitched sounds like an ambulance siren.
- Hes alone and lonely at home and suffering from separation anxiety.
- He has medical issues that are causing him pain or itching, and he wants you to know and do something about it.
Why Is Your German Shepherd Scratching So Much
As this thread on a popular German Shepherd owner forum highlights, it can sometimes be hard to tell if your dog is just doing minor self-care or cleaning or if the scratching is caused by something else.
You will probably struggle most to figure out which it is if you are new to owning a German Shepherd.
The longer you and your dog spend together, the more you will get familiar with your dogs regular routines and begin to notice if something in those routines changes.
For example, maybe your dog suddenly starts scratching intensely at a certain area on one paw. This isnt something you normally see your dog do, so it captures your attention.
You examine the paw more closely and see a flea clinging to the skin. This alerts you to the need for flea treatment. Soon your dog stops scratching the paw as the flea treatment begins to work.
In most cases, the reason your dog is scratching more than usual wont resolve itself on its own.
In fact, the more likely outcome is that the issue will get worse and the affected area of skin will become infected, requiring more serious treatment.
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Why Your German Shepherd Is Annoying
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd is annoying will likely come with a number of clues in the way that it is annoying.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd could be annoying you and the signs to look for with them.
A lack of exercise
German Shepherds are a breed that is supposed to get a lot of exercise. When German Shepherds do not get a lot of exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues and to do things that you might consider annoying.
Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd get at least one hour of exercise per day and sometimes even that is not enough.
If your German Shepherd is not currently getting a lot of exercise then it is likely that it has something to do with it and the first thing that you should do is to make sure that it does get enough exercise.
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A lack of training
Another reason why your German Shepherd annoys you could be that it does not know that you do not want it to act in that way.
If you have not spent much time training your German Shepherd to act the way that you want it to then it will act the way that it thinks you want it to act. This is unlikely to be the way that you actually want it to act.
If you have not spent much time training your German Shepherd then I would recommend that you take the time to train it using positive reinforcement training which will be discussed below.
A lack of attention
How Can You Comfort Your German Shepherd
If you find a trigger, you can naturally take steps to avoid them in the future. You should also be aware that these dogs may whine or recoil with raised voices or sudden or aggressive movements when these appear.
It is best to be careful about speaking and moving around them until they are more comfortable in your presence.
In case you cant pinpoint a trigger or there appear to be too many to avoid, the best thing you can do is to comfort your dog. If they are cautious around you, you can simply lie next to them until they get used to your presence.
After a while, when they know how to seek comfort from you, you can offer them cuddles. With time, this fear may leave them.
These are the main reasons that your German Shepherd may be whining. When in doubt, always take your dog to the vet to ensure that there are no medical issues. Once you have ruled this out, you can identify and deal with any behavioral issues. You should have the problem under control in no time at all.
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What Are The Potential Signs Of A Serious Itching Problem
Your dog is constantly scratching themselves in some way
If your dog is consistently doing the following to get some relief from their itching, the itching problem might be more serious:
Scratching themselves with their paw nails
Chewing at themselves
Rubbing themselves against another surface
There are signs of damage or harm from your dogs constant scratching
Are there signs of damage or harm to your dog in the area they are scratching as a result of their itching?
For example, in more extreme cases, bleeding, hair loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections can all be caused by dogs itching and scratching themselves.
If you notice any of these things, it might be a strong sign you need to get a vet to check out what might be causing the itching so it can be treated and managed.
Susceptibility To Skin Allergies
Unfortunately, the German Shepherd is a high-risk breed for skin allergies like canine atopic dermatitis . Environmental causes, mainly parasitic, and food hypersensitivity are predispositions that any German Shepherd pet parent should expect to encounter. German Shepherds are susceptible to immunological disorders, and often, this breed of dog will suffer from dry, flaky skin, sores from flea allergy dermatitis, secondary bacterial skin infections, scabies, and other forms of contact dermatitis.
Due to the high likelihood of your German Shepherd developing allergies, if you see him excessively or frequently shaking his head, or scratching, chewing, or biting on parts of his body, he probably has an allergy.
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