If your dog won’t stop scratching, but doesn’t have fleas, hypersensitivity to his environment could be to blame. If you’ve brushed, combed, scrubbed and searched and found no fleas but your dog continues to scratch and lick uncontrollably you should consider his sensitivities – after all, studies have shown that dogs are increasingly developing allergies to things other than fleas.
How to tell if your dog is hypersensitive
On one hand, sensitivities are your dog’s body overreacting to certain irritants, called allergens. Over-reactions occur when your dog inhales or ingests irritants like pollen, mold, dust, grass, etc., causing his body to go into overdrive to protect itself from the perceived threat. Affecting 15% of dogs, these atopic sensitivities often present as constant scratching or chewing – sometimes drawing blood or creating bald spots, recurrent or persistent ear infections that don’t succumb to traditional treatments and irritated skin patches or ‘hotspots’. When inhaled, respiratory challenges like sneezing or labored breathing can result.
Sensitivity can be genetic
On the other hand, your dog’s body may have a genetic hypersensitivity to certain irritants. This hypersensitivity causes his body to perceive a greater threat than what truly exists. Unfortunately, the genetic component to common sensitivities has been passed down from generation to generation as certain dog breeds have been bred for physical and behavioral traits. The focus on these “dog show” breed traits has allowed less desirable traits to also become prominent in the dog breed, including more sensitivities. It has been only recently that the focus of dog breeders has included the tracking of these less desirable traits and breeding more genetically sound dogs to remove these traits from the gene pool.
Sensitivities most common in these breeds
Because of past breeding practices, the dog breeds most genetically predisposed to allergies are: Beagles, Belgian Tervurens, Boston, Cairn, West Highland and Wire-haired Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Dalmatians, English and Irish Setters, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Schnauzers, Poodles, Pugs, Shar peis, and Shih tzus.
If your dog won’t stop scratching but does not have fleas, consult your veterinarian and consider having him tested for sensitivities. Once you know what your dog is allergic to, you can reduce his exposure to that allergen, and bring relief until they dissipate with cannabinoids for your dog's skin – and when they feel better, you do too!