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Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching and More

Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching and More

Is your dog excessively scratching, itching or licking their skin? They may be suffering from one of a number of common skin conditions. Here, our Richmond vets speak about what may be causing irritation to your dog's skin and how you can treat it. 

Skin Conditions That Cause Itching & Irritability

Generally speaking, your dog itching themselves is nothing to be concerned about. However, if your pup is scratching themselves too excessively or too frequently, and they are causing irritation to their skin, pointing to a cause for their strange behavior. Your vet will be able to help you determine the underlying cause of your dog's itching and suggest treatments to help them recover.

    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 parasites like mites and fleas are some 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 your pet's parasite issues. Afterward, you should also do a complete clean of your living space, particularly in places your dog frequents, to make sure none of these creatures linger.

    There are also preventive medications you can give your dog to prevent fleas, mites, or ticks in the first place. 

    Environmental Dermatitis

    This skin irritation develops from contact with substances like plants, grasses or dirt that may irritate your dog's skin. The specific symptoms can include cracked or dry skin, blisters, 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 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 more prone to allergies than others, making this a somewhat common reason to visit the vet depending on the breed of your dog. Allergens that cause your dog to develop skin irritation may include plants, insects, pollen or dander.

    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.

    Sometimes hives will present through swelling around your dog's eyes. Using a hypoallergenic shampoo for your pup will often alleviate this condition. 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.

    Does your dog suffer from dermatitis? Contact Broad Street Veterinary Hospital today to speak with our skilled vets about how you can help your pooch recover and alleviate their discomfort.

    Looking for a new vet? We are accepting new patients! 

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