It’s natural for dogs to scratch from time to time, but if your pooch seems obsessed with scratching, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, dogs will sometimes scratch themselves until they make the skin raw, which can lead to a secondary infection.
To stop your pooch from scratching their neck, you’ll need to figure out why they are scratching.
Why does my dog scratch their neck?
There are several reasons your dog might be scratching their neck. In most cases, dogs scratch their neck for the same reason humans scratch. Because it itches. However, there can also be a behavioral reason for your pooch’s scratching obsession.
Fleas can be a major source of irritation for a dog, and their owner. Part of the problem is the fleas themselves. They bite your dog’s skin and feed off the blood. It’s also common for dogs to be allergic to the fleas’ saliva. This can cause even more itching and irritation than the fleas themselves.
If your dog has fleas, you may notice them scratching other areas as well. Fleas are often found around the neck, ears, groin, and tail. The fleas themselves can be difficult to spot, but flea dirt is easier to see.
It looks like flecks of dirt or pepper, but it’s actually the fleas’ waste. If you place it on a wet paper towel, it will have a reddish tinge.
Allergies are a common issue for dogs. Your pooch may be allergic to something in the environment, like dust or grass. They may also be allergic to something in their diet, including grains, egg, dairy, and beef.
Environmental allergies can also cause sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Food allergies often cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, gas, and vomiting. Both types of allergies can cause your dog to itch in one area, like their neck, or all over their body.
Have you ever had dry skin? Did you find yourself scratching before you reached for the lotion? Dry skin is typically itchy skin, for dogs as well as people.
Some dogs are prone to dry skin. Dry winter air or over bathing can also contribute to the problem.
In addition to scratching, you may notice white dandruff on your dog’s skin. They may have a poor coat condition, or lose hair in the affected areas.
Bite or Sting
If your dog suddenly starts scratching at a particular spot on their neck, they may have a bite or sting. Dogs will scratch or lick an area when they experience pain or itching.
Some bites, like ticks, will cause your pooch to itch. Others, like bees, will cause pain. Both can lead your dog to scratching the area, often with a vengeance.
Check the area, looking for any signs of a tick or a sting. Ticks are fairly easy to spot. If a bite or sting is the culprit, you may see a small red welt. This can be hard to see due to your dog’s fur, however.
Any type of wound on your dog’s neck will cause them pain and irritation, which will certainly lead to scratching. Examine your pooch’s neck for an open sore or wound.
Foreign bodies can also be the culprit. A splinter can be hard to see, but can cause your pooch to itch.
Dogs aren’t known to be as fastidious as cats, but they do groom themselves regularly. If your canine companion has a matted area on their neck, they will scratch it. It’s their attempt to remove the tangle.
Dogs need both mental and physical stimulation. When they get bored, they tend to do things that they shouldn’t, including scratching their neck.
Bored dogs are often destructive. They may chew inappropriate things. Some will dig a hole in the yard, or your couch. They are often over excited or hyper. They may pace or pant even though they aren’t being active.
The other behavioral reason for scratching is anxiety. Scratching and licking are a dog’s self-comfort mechanism. Dogs can become anxious for a variety of reasons. These include an unpleasant or scary experience, a change in the household, or a change in routine.
Some dogs are more prone to anxiety than others, and the cause can’t always be identified. Other signs of anxiety include excessive barking, licking, destructive behavior, and potty accidents.
How to stop my dog from scratching their neck?
To get your dog to stop scratching their neck, it’s best to treat the underlying cause of the scratching.
If fleas are the cause of your dog’s itching, they will need flea treatment. Most owners prefer using a monthly topical medication for flea control. This will kill any fleas on your dog, and prevent them from returning.
Dry Skin Remedies
If dry skin is the problem, you may be able to treat it with items from your kitchen. An oatmeal bath or paste can soothe itchy skin. Add plain oats to your dog’s bath, or mix oats with water until it forms a paste.
You can also use baby oatmeal. It’s simply oats ground into small flakes. These flakes will dissolve in water, which makes treatment and clean up easier.
Coconut oil or vitamin E oils are another option. Simply apply it to your dog’s skin as a moisturizer. These oils are safe for your dog, so it’s ok if they sneak a few licks.
You should also consider their diet. Many owners find a fish oil supplement improves the quality of their pooch’s coat, and helps relieve dry skin.
If your dog has allergies, you’ll need to work with your vet. Environmental allergies can be diagnosed through allergy testing. Food allergy testing requires an elimination diet. Once your furry friend’s allergies are identified, your vet may prescribe allergy medication, or a specialized diet.
Keep Them Busy
If boredom is the culprit, you’ll need to provide them with more stimulation. In addition to plenty of physical exercise, you can teach them a new trick for mental stimulation. Puzzle toys are another great option.
Socializing with other dogs, and even watching some nature TV shows can also help your pooch bust boredom.
Even if boredom isn’t the culprit, activities also work as a redirectional tactic. When your pooch is busy playing, they are much less likely to remember to scratch.
If anxiety is the cause, it’s best to reduce or eliminate the source of the anxiety. However, this isn’t always possible. Allowing your dog to get plenty of exercise, and providing them with a safe space within the home can help.
However, if the anxiety is severe, you may need professional intervention. Your vet can prescribe anti-anxiety medication for severe cases. You may also find a dog behavioralist helpful.
How to stop my dog from scratching their neck wound?
If your dog has a neck wound, it’s very important that you don’t allow them to scratch it. Scratching the area can cause further damage. It can also lead to a secondary infection. Your dog’s paws have all sorts of bacteria that can infect an open wound.
If the wound is more than a minor scratch, it’s best to bring your pooch to the vet. Proper treatment is the best way to minimize pain and itching, which will also reduce scratching.
You may be able to bandage the wound. However, you must be careful not to restrict circulation to your dog’s head. The wound can be covered with a crepe bandage, but if your dog’s a scratcher, you may need to cover it with cotton gauze, then a bandage to secure it.
Foam Collar or E Collar
A foam collar prevents your dog from accessing their neck. It looks like a donut, and your pooch’s head goes through the opening. Your dog may not be happy about wearing the collar, but it will keep them from hurting their neck by scratching.
An e collar, also known as the cone of shame, will also work. However, they can be overkill for a neck wound. A foam collar is less restrictive, while still protecting your dog’s neck.
Topical creams can ease the pain or itching of the wound, making your pooch less likely to scratch. They can also speed healing, and prevent or treat infection. It’s best to speak with your vet before applying cream to a wound, but bacitracin ointment is considered safe for dogs.
As mentioned earlier, distraction or redirection can help prevent your dog from scratching their wound. However, it’s best to use it with other measures, like a foam collar or bandage.
After all, you can’t keep your canine companion occupied at all times, and they may still attempt to scratch the wound when they are unsupervised.
How to stop my dog from scratching neck stitches?
If your pooch has stitches, you must prevent them from scratching them. They can accidentally pull the stitches out, reopening the wound.
A foam collar will protect your dog’s neck, so they can’t access it with their paws.
A t-shirt or even a bandana might be all that you need to protect your pooch. If they are particularly determined scratchers, this isn’t the best option. However, it will protect the stitches from the occasional light scratching.
A doggie, or even a child’s t-shirt, that covers the neck can work well. A bandana tied around your dog’s neck can also do the trick. However, you’ll need to keep an eye on it. You don’t want it becoming too tight around your dog’s neck, or pulling loose.
Anti-itch Sprays and Creams
Your vet may recommend an anti-itching spray or cream. As stitches heal, they itch. Sprays and creams can relieve the itching, which will hopefully stop the scratching as well.