This is the time of year where you could be led to believe that your dog has got some kind of allergy that makes his feet itchy. It can look rather fierce when dogs, in absolute desperation, start digging up their dog beds. I have seen my dogs have a good dig, then turn round, dig some more and then get really frustrated and run off for some relief. So what is going on? It can be the annual return of one of our most hated weeds, the stingy nettles. In the early spring these hardy and feisty plants start growing as soon as there is the slightest power in the sun light and they are at that fresh, new stage, very stingy and not very visible. Long before the grass starts getting green and long, the nettles send out their stingy leaves and that is a doggy problem.
This happens every year, but it seems like the dogs forget from one year to another and every year in April they get taken by surprise. So when they run across the fields, they don’t notice straight away that the soft skin in between their pads is getting stung by the nettles. Only when they return home to lie on their dog beds do they start noticing the problem and get up and scratch. A dog can’t scratch himself in between the pads, so he just digs. It is aggravated by warmth, so if he is in a warm house it will be more annoying for him. You can try and apply a little bit of antihistamine cream in between the pads on the underside where he can’t lick it , but it is unlikely to solve the problem. There is not a lot to do about it and the itchiness will settle down again after some time. While it is at the most irritating stage dogs will be digging a lot on their dog beds (or on your carpet) and it would make sense to have the strongest dog beds you can get, which is probably our Durasoft mattress beds. We have tested our fabrics extensively and we have indeed our in-house digging tester, who always digs his beds just for the sake of it. He has not managed to dig a hole in our Durasoft Mattress Beds while they are out on the veranda with him, where we can see him give it hell. There are claw marks across the fabric, but the texturised Nylon easily stands up to the stress.
So although it is annoying for your dogs, at least you are not going to lose your dog beds to excessive digging. The Tuffie beds will stand up to the abuse.
Just one thing to come back to whether a dog learns from year to year. I have noticed that they certainly learn by the first few weeks of spring and when the nettles are further up, I have seen my dogs simply smell the field and because it’s full of nettles, they won’t run over it and play. Nettles have, even to our crude noses, a very strong and characteristic smell.