Why is My Dog Chewing, Licking, or Scratching?

There are three main reasons that dogs chew, lick, or scratch themselves: Neurological, psychological, and dermatological.

1. Neurological Causes

Neurological causes would include pain, tingling, arthritis, spinal issues, sciatica, etc. Often, you may notice your dog will develop a red/discolored patch of fur. This is usually on the fur covering a joint.

In this case, the dog has been licking the joint repeatedly trying to soothe the pain they can feel there -- just like we would massage a sore wrist or knee.

This pain can be caused by an injury or wound, arthritis, loose ligaments being unable to provide stability to the joint, etc.

2. Psychological Causes

Psychological causes would include anxiety and self-soothing behaviors. Licking releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones, in the brain, which reduces stress and anxiety.  

This is the equivalent of a toddler thumb sucking or an adult’s deep-breathing exercises.

3. Dermatological Causes

Dermatological causes are actual skin conditions. And there are several categories of those as well. 

Once the Thera-Clean bath has removed all the stuff covering the cause of the problem, we can now treat it at the source, instead of through layers of ick.

While it is removing skin ick, it is also reducing inflammation and stimulating blood flow. This facilitates faster healing for skin, but also reaches the tissues under the skin, reducing soft-tissue inflammation internally.  Old, achy joints feel a little less stiff and sore. 18-year-old dogs bunny hop, frisk, and try to play with puppies (true story).  

What Conditions Benefit from Thera-Clean?

Since Royal Paw Spa introduced Thera-Clean sessions in 2018, we have used the microbubbles to help our clients’ dogs with all types of skin conditions and discomfort issues, including:

Is your pup itchy and uncomfortable? There’s nothing worse than seeing our beloved pets unhappy in their own skin. But what can you do when you’ve tried medications, shampoos, ointments, and everything else under the sun – and nothing seems to help?

Does your pup suffer from the achy, creaky joints, and stiffness of old age? Do they have problems with their shoulders, back, hips, or knees? Has the vet prescribed pain pills or steroids? We would all love to put the spring back in in our old pup’s step or help them sleep more comfortably.

The Royal Paw Spa’s signature Thera-Clean Microbubble bathing system may be just the thing to give your pup (and you!) some much-needed relief!

What is Thera-Clean?

The Thera-Clean system is a warm soothing spa treatment for your dog that uses microscopic bubbles to thoroughly deep-clean your dog’s skin.

How Does Thera-Clean Work?

The Thera-Clean bubbles gently remove allergens, microbes, gooey or crusty discharge from ears, layers of dead skin cells, excess oils, and debris that can often mask the true source of your dog’s discomfort.

Removing these can help medicated treatments be more effective, including: 

Thera-Clean is also effective at reducing many types of pain and inflammation commonly found in dogs of all ages and breeds, including:

  • Apoquel
  • Cytopoint
  • Prednisone
  • Medicated shampoos
  • Ear flushes
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungals
  • Ointments

Giving the royal treatment from nose to toes

Dry Skin: The most basic skin problem that dogs face is dry skin. Those dogs need more moisture added to their skin. Often, the fix is as simple as using conditioner after you shampoo them.

Allergies: The next most likely culprit is allergies. These can be either environmental, contact based or inhaled, or food allergies.

Allergies require ongoing management and will never be fully resolved until conditions change.

I’ve noticed that dogs in drier climates suffer much less from environmental allergies than dogs in more humid environments. Unfortunately, Santa Cruz is a very humid, coastal climate with lots of allergens – so we see many, many dogs with environmental itchiness here.

Infections: Ranging from minor skin rashes or hot spots to mange and beyond, infections can cause persistent itching, sores, lesions, scabs, etc. and can make a dog miserable.

These require topical medications like shampoos, ointments, or lotions, and sometimes antibiotics or other oral medications. These can be cleared up 100% and once gone, might never recur.

Ear Infections: While there are several causes of ear infections, chronic ear infections can often be a symptom of food allergies.

Long-term prevention depends on identifying the food allergen and eliminating it from your dog’s diet -- which can be hard to accomplish because of expert puppy-dog eyes.

However, it is doable, and once the allergen(s) are identified and removed from the diet, the chronic ear infections often disappear.

Autoimmune or Whole-Body Disorders: These are the most difficult type of dermatological issue to combat, due to the complexity of the immune system and in what way it is misbehaving.

Disorders that affect oil production, cause lesions, sores, skin thickening or thinning, etc., need to be diagnosed by a vet, and remain under veterinary supervision.

Often, these are lifetime issues and can be managed, but not cured. 

The Thera-Clean microbubble system unfortunately will not make your dog stop sucking his thumb, but it can assist dogs with itching or pain caused by neurological and dermatological issues. 

​​​4 out of 4 senior doggies agree that Thera-Clean feels amazing!!!

  • Skin sores or skin lesions
  • Dry, flaky, or scaly skin
  • Rashes, bumps, lumps, or redness
  • Dandruff
  • Intense itching
  • Excessive licking or scratching
  • Hair loss/bald patches
  • Hot spots or inflamed skin (also known as acute moist dermatitis)

Thera-Clean Microbubbles 101

  • Arthritis
  • Age-related stiffness
  • Aches and pains
  • Injuries and post-surgical discomfort
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Luxating patella
  • Spinal issues, including disc degeneration (IVDD) and cord compression
  • Puncture wounds
  • Soft tissue damage