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Why won’t my Labrador stop scratching itself?

Why won’t my Labrador stop scratching itself?

If your Labrador won’t stop scratching itself you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. In this post, I will show you common reasons why they do it and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my Labrador 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 many reasons why your Labrador might be doing it and it might be due to a combination of reasons. 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 Labrador won’t stop scratching itself

Below are a number of possible reasons why your Labrador might keep doing it and what would make them more likely.

Fleas

The cause could 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 Labrador 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 Labrador with a monthly preventative

Allergies

Allergies might also be what has 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 Labrador 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

Labradors require 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 Labrador 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 Labradors to get at least an hour of exercise per day. If your Labrador 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 Labrador 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 Labrador 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

It could also be the case that something has been causing it to be 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

The reason might also be that it has been doing it compulsively. This is where your Labrador feels an urge to scratch itself and it can’t help but 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 to consider when figuring out why your Labrador has been doing it.

When it started doing it

If your Labrador has not always scratched itself as much as it has been, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.

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 Labrador 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 Labrador scratching itself

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

Take it to a vet

If your Labrador has been doing it 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 Labrador in particular and to rule out the possibility of it being due to an injury.

Consider the shampoo you use on your Labrador

It could be the case that the shampoo you use on your Labrador 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 Labrador 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 Labrador 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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