Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Conditions

Excessive licking, scratching and itching are signs that your dog may have a skin condition like dermatitis. Find out what may be causing these skin issues and how you can help to treat them from our Wake Forest vets.

Skin Conditions that Cause Itching & Irritability

Most dogs will encounter itching at some point in their lives. In most instances, it may be annoying for your pet but not serious. However, some conditions need to be seen by a vet and require treatment from becoming far worse.

    Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

    There are several reasons your dog may start to scratch, lick or bite at their fur. Some of the more common ones include:


    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.

    Parasitic Bites

    Bites from mites and fleas are one of the most common sources of itching in dogs and are some of the easiest to treat. Your vet can prescribe medications to resolve issues with parasites. You also have the ability to proactively give your dog medication in order to avoid fleas, mites and ticks in the first place.

    Environmental Dermatitis

    This is an irritation of your pet's skin that develops through contact with some substances like grasses, dirt and other plants. Symptoms include dry and itchy or cracked skin, blisters, rashes redness and 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 happen 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.

    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 symptoms, aside from itching, can include excessive grooming, licking sneezing, rashes, water eyes and inflamed skin. Your vet may be able to diagnose what is causing the allergy and will recommend and appropriate treatment as well as ways to prevent allergic reactions in the future.

    Emergency Cases

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

    To learn more about skin problems in dogs, or to seek treatment options, contact our Wake Forest vets to book an appointment today.