Why does my dog scratch his flanks when I’m petting/brushing him?

Have you came across a situation where you are petting or brushing doggy’s flank and he starts scratching as though it tickles?

Many of us have.

Oh STOP that tickles!

Oh STOP that tickles!

Why is this happening

  • Reflex action – Animal Planet reported that a nerve under the skin is activated when you rub or tickle a sensitive spot on doggy, relaying a message along the spinal cord telling the back legs to start scratching to make the irritant go away. This is similar to when an insect lands or crawls on their skin, activating the ingrained involuntary scratch reflex reaction.
  • Apparently, the scratch reflex is activated when the “saddle” region of the dog is touched;  which includes the belly, the back and both flanks. Which leg is activated by the scratch reflex, and how hard a dog kicks, depends on the individual dog, as well as on where in the saddle region you scratch and how hard.

Should I touch the saddle area then?

  • Oh well you sure can. As the reflex is involuntary, it does not mean that doggy hates the belly rubs. In fact he might even be enjoying the belly rubs especially when he does not move away.

Did you know that the scratch reflex in dogs serves some use?

  • The scratch reflex is so universal among dogs that veterinarians have found it useful in helping to diagnose neurological problems or nerve damage. It can serve much the same purpose as the test your doctor gives you when tapping your knee with a hammer to test your knee-jerk reflex.

Now, you can pet/stroke/brush your pet more regularly yes? 😉

Will you pet me please?

Will you pet me please?

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