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Why Is My Dog Scratching? Causes & Treatment Of Irritated Skin In Dogs

Why Is My Dog Scratching? Causes & Treatment Of Irritated Skin In Dogs

If your dog is excessively itching, scratching, or licking their skin they could be suffering from a number of common skin conditions. Here, our Rockland County vets discuss what might be causing your pup's skin problems and how you can help treat them.

Skin Conditions That Cause Itching & Irritability

Usually, your dog itching is nothing to be concerned about. However, if your dog is scratching excessively, frequently, or hard enough that they are causing irritation to their skin it might be time to see the vet. Your vet will be able to determine the underlying cause of the itching and suggest treatments to help your pooch feel better. 

    Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

    There are several dog skin problems that can cause your dog to scratch, lick or bite at their fur. Some of the more common ones include:

    Parasitic Bites

    Bites from fleas and mites are one of the most common sources of itching in dogs, and one of the easiest to treat. Your vet can prescribe medication to resolve the parasite issue and you can do a thorough cleaning of your living space, particularly areas your dog frequents (such as their bed) to ensure there are no lingering parasites. 

    There are also preventive medications you can give your dog to prevent 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.

    Suggested ways to alleviate this condition include antihistamines or oatmeal baths. Your vet may recommend a cortisone cream or other alternative depending on the severity.

    Nutritional Dermatitis

    This is a relatively uncommon issue for dogs, however, it is possible that they may have an allergic reaction to something in their food. Typically, nutritional dermatitis results in skin irritations and scratching, but digestive issues may occur as well, such as diarrhea or vomiting. If your dog is displaying either type of symptom, it's best to make an appointment with your vet.

    If your dog is diagnosed as having nutritional dermatitis, your vet will most likely recommend changing up your dog's diet to remove any allergens from it. 

    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 aside from itching include excessive grooming or licking, watery eyes and sneezing, rashes, and inflamed skin. Your vet may be able to diagnose what is causing the allergy and will recommend treatment as well as ways 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.

    Emergency Cases

    If your dog's itching persists for more than a few days, you should make an appointment so your vet can diagnose the issue and treat it. Prolonged itching can cause excessive scratching and biting at the itch which can create a self-inflicted injury. This can become serious if left unchecked. 

    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.

    Is your dog suffering from dermatitis? Book an appointment with our highly-skilled Rockland County vets to discuss treatment options for your pup. 

    We are now accepting new patients!

    At Rockland Veterinary we are passionate about animals and enjoy helping cats and dogs feel well. Contact our vets in Hudson Valley, North Rockland or Pomona today to schedule your furry companion's first appointment!