Labradoodle itching and scratching can be caused by
- dry skin
- nutritional deficiencies
- stress or anxiety
- and hormone imbalances.
It can make dogs miserable, but your vet can help you pinpoint the cause, and find a way to manage it.
Why is My Labradoodle Itching and Scratching?
If your Labradoodle is constantly itching, scratching, biting, licking, and chewing you’ll want to do anything you can to help.
But first you need to determine the underlying cause, because itching and scratching can be signs of a number of very different problems.
The two most common reasons for Labradoodle itching and scratching are parasites and allergies.
But many things from anxiety and dry skin, to hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies could also be at the root of the problem.
Determining what condition your dog is coping with requires a vet’s evaluation before starting any treatment.
Labradoodle Itching and Scratching – Parasites
Fleas, ticks and mites are among the most likely culprits when it comes to your dog constantly itching and scratching.
These common parasites love to nestle in a Labradoodle’s warm, curly coat.
They are reddish-brown and only about a millimeter or two long.
Sometimes you’ll be able to see them in your dog’s fur, but even if you don’t, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
In one study, fleas were found in almost 18% of the 1,376 dogs tested.
Flea bites are itchy at the best of times, but some dogs also suffer from flea bite allergy. When this happens, their immune reaction to flea bites is particularly strong.
This can lead to redness, swelling, scabbing, and hair loss at the site of flea bites – known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis, or FAD.
It’s easier to prevent fleas than to deal with them.
From puppyhood, your vet will recommend routine flea treatments to keep fleas at bay.
There are several products licensed for this. The best one for your Labradoodle will depend on things like your lifestyle, their overall health, and whether you have cats at home as well.
Ticks are usually more visible than fleas, but can still go undetected for some time after attaching themselves to your dog.
At first, ticks are small, flat, oval-shaped. They can range anywhere from 1 to 10 millimeters long, and they have 8 legs (usually tucked out of sight).
Once ticks attach to their host, they start to feed on their blood. They may remain there for days or even weeks, during which time their body size multiplies several times over.
Ticks can also carry some dangerous infections.
The most common in the U.S. is Lyme disease, a serious bacterial infection that can affect humans and animals.
It’s important to check your Labradoodle regularly for ticks, but especially during tick season and after your dog has been outdoors.
The easiest and most effective way to detach ticks from your dog’s fur is using a specially designed plastic tick remover.
Pharmaceutical tick treatments are also effective, as long as you follow the directions.
Mites are another common parasite that could be causing your Labradoodle a great deal of distress.
An infestation of these microscopic parasites is also known as mange. Some of the symptoms are severe itching, hair loss, and inflammation.
Mites are highly contagious and if your Labradoodle comes into contact with a dog who has them, they’ll climb from one animal to another.
Mites live in dogs’ fur, and sometimes in their ears.
Ear mites like to burrow inside a dog’s ear canal and live on dead skin cells and wax.
As many as half of the ear infections that affect dogs are caused by ear mites.
If you notice your pet is rubbing or scratching their ears, shaking their head, or their ears are red or inflamed, they could have ear mites.
Ear mites are extremely itchy and painful, and left untreated can lead to serious problems.
Mite infestations can often be treated with anti-parasitic shampoos.
It’s best to consult with your vet since they can also prescribe medication for more serious infections.
Lice are another small insect that can live in your Labradoodle’s fur.
There are two types of lice dogs get:
- Chewing lice survive by eating skin debris and secretions.
- Sucking lice get nourishment from sucking your dog’s blood.
In addition to itching and scratching, signs that your Labradoodle is infected with lice include
- rubbing the infected area
- matted coat
- dry fur
- and hair loss.
The only way for a dog to get lice is through direct contact with another dog that’s infested. It only takes a few lice to be passed on to start an annoying infestation.
The best way to get rid of lice is to speak to your vet who can offer the best treatment options.
Dry Skin and Dandruff
It’s normal for dogs to shed old dead skin, known as dander.
But occasionally abnormal changes happen to the skin-shedding process, and they are accompanied by horrible itchiness.
One example is if you wash your dog with a human shampoo. Dogs’ skin is more acidic than ours, and washing with shampoo designed for people can cause itchy, flakey skin.
Another example is seborrhea – a disorder of the sebaceous glands, and commonly known as dandruff.
The sebaceous glands produce oil called sebum, that lubricates the skin and hair.
If they produce too much sebum it causes dandruff and greasy skin and hair.
This is a common disorder that is usually not serious. But it can lead to itchy, irritating, skin infections, or be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition that needs to be checked out.
Allergies can also be a reason for your Labradoodle’s constant itching and scratching.
A hypersensitivity of the dog’s immune system to certain substances causes an allergic reaction that results in redness and inflammation.
Allergies are very common in dogs and it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause.
Typical culprits include:
- Something in their diet.
- Environmental allergens like pollen, dust, and mold.
- Or something which has made contact with their skin, such as insecticides, perfumes, laundry detergents and fabric conditioners.
All of these – not just the contact allergens – can trigger an allergic reaction which affects the skin.
Skin allergies typically present in the form of rashes, dry skin, redness, or inflammation.
Unfortunately, allergies have a strong hereditary component. Labradoodles are particularly prone to skin allergies because they are already widely present in Labradors and Poodles.
Drugs like Apoquel can help some dogs with allergies. But determining what your dog is allergic to requires a vet’s evaluation before starting any treatment.
A dog’s diet that’s lacking in proper nutrients can also lead to chronic itching and scratching.
The minerals zinc and copper as well as omega-3 fatty acids are all essential for maintaining the health of a dog’s skin and fur.
Nutritional deficiencies could be the result of feeding a poor quality commercial dog food or feeding a homemade diet that isn’t nutritionally complete.
There are also medical conditions that keep a dog from absorbing the nutrients in their diets.
Also consult your vet before trying to fix a medical problem by changing your dog’s diet.
Stress and Anxiety
If a dog is left alone too much or doesn’t get enough physical or mental exercise they can become bored, anxious, and stressed.
Some dogs are also stressed by specific situations or sounds.
All dogs express anxiety slightly differently, but one way they might do so is by performing displacement behaviors.
Displacement behaviors are basically a way of channelling their pent up nervous energy into something else. They’re usually recognizable by being out of context – for example scratching when there’s nothing itching them.
If you you think your Labradoodle is scratching due to anxiety, but you can’t work out what’s making him anxious, a behaviorist will usually be able to help you spot the trigger.
Hormonal imbalances or thyroid problems can also cause changes in your dog’s skin.
An underactive thyroid gland can make your dog susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections that cause skin itching.
Whilst an overactive adrenal gland can produce too much cortisol.
In normal circumstances, cortisol helps fight infections and controls blood sugar levels. But overproduction can lead to Cushing’s syndrome, which causes bald spots, thin skin, and recurrent skin infections.
Your vet can do a blood test to diagnose if your Labradoodle is dealing with hormonal problems.
Labradoodle Itching and Scratching
As you can see, dogs itch and scratch for a wide variety of reasons.
Some can be easily remedied; whilst others require more complex treatment.
What’s important is that the treatments aren’t mix-and-match. You need to use the right remedy for cause of the itch!
So if your Labradoodle is itching and scratching, it’s time to contact your vet.
References and Further Reading
Rinaldi L., et al. A survey of fleas on dogs in southern Italy. Veterinary Parasitology. 2007.
Payne, DMW. Biology and control of ticks infesting dogs and cats in North America. Veterinary Therapeutics: Research in Applied Veterinary Medicine. 2003.
Norulhuda, W. A SURVEY OF EAR MITES IN STRAY CATS IN KOTA BHARU, KELANTAN, WEST MALAYSIA. Malaysian Journal of Veterinary Research. 2017.
Durden, LA. Lice (Phthiraptera). Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 2019.
Favrot, C., et al. A prospective study on the clinical features of chronic canine atopic dermatitis and its diagnosis. Veterinary Dermatology. 2010.
Ling, GV, et al. Canine hyperadrenocorticism: pretreatment clinical and laboratory evaluation of 117 cases. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 1979.