Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Dog Skin Problems: Why Is My Dog Scratching and Itching?

Dog Skin Problems: Why Is My Dog Scratching and Itching?

Excessive scratching, licking and itching are all signs that your dog may be developing a skin condition called dermatitis. Here, our Apple Valley vets explain what may be causing your dog's skin problems and how you may be able to help them feel better. 

Skin Conditions That Cause Dog Itching & Scratching

Most dogs will inevitably encounter excessive itchiness at some point in their lives. In many cases, it will be annoying for your dog but not serious. That being said, some skin conditions will need to be seen by a veterinarian and will require treatment in order to prevent them from growing in severity. 

    Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

    There are a number of different reasons why your dog may begin licking, biting or scratching at their fur. Some of the most common skin problems in dogs include: 

    Parasitic Bites

    Bites received from mites and fleas are one of the most common sources of itching in dogs. Thankfully, they are also some of the easiest to treat. Your vet will be able to prescribe medication to help resolve any issues your pet may be experiencing because of parasites. You will also be able to proactively provide your dog with medication in order to avoid fleas, mites or ticks in the first place. 

    Environmental Dermatitis

    This is a skin irritation that develops due to contact with certain substances, such as grass, dirt, and plants. Symptoms include itchy/dry or cracked skin, rashes, blisters, redness, or swelling.

    Some commonly suggested ways to alleviate this condition include oatmeal baths and antihistamines. Your veterinarian may also recommend alternatives like cortisone cream depending on the severity of your pup's case. 

    Nutritional Dermatitis

    This is a relatively uncommon issue in dogs. However, it is possible that your pup develops an allergic reaction to something that is in their food. Generally speaking, nutritional dermatitis results in skin irritations and scratching, but digestive issues may also occur. This includes diarrhea and vomiting. 

    If your dog is displaying either type of symptom, it's best to make an appointment with your vet.

    Skin Allergies

    Some dogs are prone to allergies, making this a somewhat common reason to visit the vet. Allergens that cause itching can be found in pollen, dander, plants or insects, among other things.

    Some of the symptoms of skin allergies in dos aside from itching include excessive grooming and licking as well as sneezing, rashes and inflammation of the skin. Your vet may be able to diagnose what it is that is causing your pet's allergies and will recommend treatment as a way to prevent future allergic reactions. 


    Another type of allergic reaction is hives. Hives can be a reaction to many things, from bites or medications. Symptoms show as a raised bump that would cause the dog's fur to stick out.

    Occasionally, hives will present with swelling near the eyes. Using a hypoallergenic shampoo for dogs will usually alleviate the condition. A hydrating leave-in conditioner may also help. Ask your vet what they recommend for your pet.

    Urgent Cases

    If you notice that your dog's abnormal itching persists for longer than a few days, you should make an appointment so that your vet can diagnose the issue and treat it. Prolonged itching can cause excessive scratching and biting at the itch—this can lead to a self-inflicted injury.  If not promptly treated, these kinds of symptoms can become quite serious. 

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    To learn more about skin problems in dogs and what treatment options your dog has, contact Apple Valley Animal Hospital today to book an examination for your pooch.

    Contact Us, Apple Valley Vets

    Caring for Pets in Apple Valley

    Apple Valley Animal Hospital accepts new clients to our specialty services and 24/7 emergency services.

    Request Appointment

    Book Online (760) 242-5400