When you think of Dachshund health issues, back problems and obesity are probably the first thing that come to mind, but they are not the only problems Dachshunds have. Along with many other breeds Dachshunds have skin problems, their owners desperately wanting to stop their Dachshunds scratching.
What Causes Dachshund Scratching?
It is important to find the cause of the scratching and treat the underlying problem as failure to do so can result in long term, costly problems. Common causes of Dachshund scratching are:
Parasites – Parasites, including fleas and ticks, can all cause itching and result in scratching. Owners should use monthly flea and tick prevention and should regularly check their Dachshunds skin for ticks and signs of fleas (either the fleas themselves or black “flea dirt”), treating them if necessary. Even Dachshunds that have been given prevention can sometimes get fleas and ticks. Other parasites include chiggers, gnats and mites, some of which cause intense itching, skin inflammation and loss of hair.
Infection – Skin infections are caused by bacteria, fungi, or yeast. If your Dachshunds skin looks red, has sores, lumps or bumps, or is greasy and smells then you should have them checked out by your veterinarian.
Allergies – Allergies cause a lot of Dachshund scratching problems. Allergies are commonly to to something in their food, in the environment (dust, pollen), or to fleas. A visit to your vet is recommended to find the cause of the scratching. Often this involves treating for parasites, a diet change and possible allergy testing and medication if the scratching continues.
Neurogenic – Dachshunds may suddenly start licking, chewing or scratching at part of their body. The cause for this often unknown, but thought to be possibly a result of boredom, anxiety or some minor abrasion that has caught their attention. They will lick, chew and scratch incessantly, causing lesions that never fully heal. The classic example of this is a lick granuloma, often found on the lower leg. Owners can try increasing their Dachshunds exercise and mental stimulation, but may need to seek the help of a veterinary behaviorist.
Nutritional – A dogs coat should be soft, shiny and have no thinning or bald patches. Dachshunds whose diet is not complete can get a coarse, brittle coat, their skin becoming dry, flaky, reddened and irritated. Supplements can be added, but it may be more worthwhile to look for a higher quality food.
Environment – Dachshunds who spend a lot of time outside, either in the water or digging in dirt may scratch a lot. This is due to the dirt and water drying and irritating their skin, including their ears which can retain water and lead to ear infections. If your Dachshund spends a lot of time outdoors you should bathe them when you return home and should clean their ears to remove any water.
If simple home care does not stop your Dachshund scratching, you will need to take your Dachshund to the vet. They will examine your dog and find the underlying cause and treat it appropriately using medications, baths, or diet changes. If your Dachshund has neurogenic scratching the solution may be harder to find. Your vet may initially have your dog wear an elizabethan collar (plastic cone) to stop them getting to the area, and break the chewing habit. Ultimately they may need to refer your Dachshund to a veterinary behaviorist for specialist treatment.