If your Golden Retriever won’t stop scratching itself you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you why they do it and what you ca do to stop it.

So, why does my Golden Retriever keep scratching itself? Possible reasons are that it has fleas, allergies, an injury or something stuck in its fur. It might also do it due to boredom, being anxious or it could be an obsessive-compulsive behavior.

There are multiple reasons why it might be doing it. However, there are also many things you can do about it and there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main cause.

Why your Golden Retriever won’t stop scratching itself

Below are common reasons why your Golden Retriever might be doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.

Fleas

The reason might be that it has fleas. This would be more likely if it started scratching itself suddenly, it has been scratching multiple areas of its body or if you have been finding fleas around the house.

If fleas are causing your Golden Retriever 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 Golden Retriever with a monthly preventative

Allergies

Another possibility is that Allergies have been causing it to scratch itself. Allergies can be caused by things such as shampoo, other dogs, pollen or household chemicals (source).

It would help to consider what else changed when your Golden Retriever first started scratching itself a lot. 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 seems like it has been scratching itself due to a rash then it would be more likely that it would have been itching itself in one specific area. Another sign of this would be if it has been losing fur in one specific area due to scratching, biting and licking at it too much.

Boredom

Golden Retrievers are meant to get a lot of exercise to be fully stimulated. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to behave abnormally and it could be contributing to your Golden Retriever scratching itself a lot. This would be more likely if it does it more when it is not able to get any exercise.

It is normally recommended for healthy adult Golden Retrievers to get at least an hour of exercise per day. If your Golden Retriever is healthy and it has not been getting much exercise then it would help to make sure that it does.

Injury

It could also be the case that an injury has been causing your Golden Retriever to itch itself. This would be more likely if it started scratching itself suddenly, it has been scratching the same area and if it has been showing other signs of being injured such as a cut. If it does seem like an injury could be causing it then it would be important to take it to a vet.

Something stuck in its fur

Another possible cause is that there might something stuck in its fur. This would be more likely if your Golden Retriever has not been doing it for long and if it has been scratching at the same spot. If it does seem to be scratching the same spot, then it would be worth taking a look to see if there is anything stuck there.

Anxiety

Another possibility is that something has been causing it to become anxious. This would be more likely if it has been doing it more when it might be anxious such as when you are about to leave home.

In this case, it would help to take measures to try and reduce the anxiety. For example, if it seems to be due to separation anxiety it would help to get it to be more comfortable when you are leaving home.

Compulsive behavior

It might be the case that it has been doing it compulsively. This is where your Golden Retriever feels an urge to scratch itself and it can’t help but to do it. This would be more likely if it has been doing it constantly and excessively. If it does seem like it might be compulsive behavior then it would help to take it to a vet.

Things to consider

Below are some things you can consider when figuring out why your Golden Retriever has been doing it.

When it started doing it

It would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it, if it has not always scratched itself like it has been.

If it did start doing it suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as fleas, allergies, an injury, boredom or it might just have been feeling itchy if it only did it once.

How much it has been doing it

It would also help to consider how much your Golden Retriever has been scratching itself.

If it rarely does it or it just did it once then less likely to be a problem and it was probably playing or it was just scratchy at the time.

Whereas, if it does it a lot then it would make it more likely to be due to things such as a rash, fleas, compulsive behavior or an injury.

When it tends to do it more

It would also help to consider the timing of when it does it since it might be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

For example, if it tends to scratch itself more when you are leaving home it would make it more likely to be due to separation anxiety.

What to do about your Golden Retriever scratching itself

Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to stop doing it.

Take it to a vet

If your Golden Retriever has been scratching itself excessively, it has been doing it for a long time or it seems like it could be injured, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored to your Golden Retriever in particular and to rule out the possibility of it being due to an injury.

Consider the shampoo you use on your Golden Retriever

It could be the case that the shampoo you use on your Golden Retriever is causing it to be scratchy. This would be more likely if it only scratches itself when you have recently put shampoo on it. In this case, it would help to change the shampoo.

Get rid of its fleas and allergies

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 Golden Retriever with a monthly preventative

Avoid encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you have been giving your Golden Retriever things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it scratches itself you might have been encouraging it to do it more.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it is well behaved, to recognize when it is likely to start scratching itself and to redirect its behavior and to follow the other tips above.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.