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My dog keeps scratching. What should I do?

It is perfectly normal for dogs to scratch, but what exactly is a “normal” amount of scratching? The most common causes of itchy dogs are parasites, food allergies, seasonal allergies and skin infections. Learning more about the underlying causes of itchiness in dogs can make preventing and treating your dog’s itchy skin much easier. Let’s discuss some of the common reasons why our dog is itchy and what we can do as pet parents to provide comfort and therapy.

There are a variety of reasons why dogs have itchy skin. Certain dog breeds are more prone to develop itchy, irritating skin conditions while other causes are external, such as parasites or seasonal allergies. So what exactly causes our dogs to itch?

A flea bite can keep your dog itching for days if they are suffering from Flea Allergy Dermatitis. Mites and ticks can also prompt itching in dogs. Don’t assume that your dog isn’t suffering from parasites just because you can’t see them!

Dry Skin
Excessive bathing or a dry environment could lead to dry skin, which results in itchy skin. Dry skin could also be a symptom of other issues like parasites or allergies. A lack of certain nutrients could also lead to dry skin. For example, essential fatty acids support skin and coat health, when this is lacking in a dog’s diet, the health of their skin may suffer and result in skin irritations.

Environmental Allergies
Mould, dust and pollen can cause dogs to be itchy, via inhalation or direct contact with the allergen. They could also develop a skin irritation called contact dermatitis when they encounter substances like pesticides or soap.

Food Allergies or Sensitivities
While dogs can develop allergies to any food or ingredient, some dogs are born with certain allergies. Along with itching, food allergies might also cause diarrhoea or vomiting in dogs.

Is something causing your dog to be uncomfortable physically? If you notice your dog biting their paw repeatedly, it could be because they have a foreign object stuck in their foot pad. Compulsive chewing and licking could also be a response to orthopaedic problems, including arthritis or hip dysplasia.

Underlying Health Issues
There are also rare cases whereby an underlying health issues such as liver disease causes itchy skin. It is best to work with your vet to ensure that you obtain the correct diagnosis and treatment.

The degree to which a dog itches are based on individual factors as the threshold for itchiness is different from dog to dog. Some itching and scratching is normal, however excessive or incessant scratching shouldn’t be ignored. Do you know what you should look out for to help you and your veterinarian figure out the cause of your dog’s itching?

Swelling and Inflammation
More often than not, red and inflamed skin is a sign of allergy. Observe if your dog tends to lick their feet or chew their toes. This may be more noticeable at night when you are in bed and you hear them licking and chewing.

Small red bumps, especially along the belly, can be caused by scratching and potentially lead to skin infections. Your dog’s toes could also turn red or inflamed. Frequent ear infections and redness around or in the whites of the eyes can also accompany itching due to allergies.

Flea allergies usually potentiate from chewing around the tail base or hair loss around that area.

Hair Loss
Mange, a skin condition caused by mites that cannot be seen with the naked eye, is often accompanied by loss of hair around the face, feet and trunk with red, itchy skin. Dogs could also get ear mites that cause itching around the ears or face.

If itching occurs seasonally, this could be a sign that it could be an environmental allergy caused by pollen, grass, or even dust and mould. If you have recently changed your pet’s diet or introduced a new treat, itchy skin may be due to a food allergy. No matter what is causing your dog to itch, finding a way to soothe that itch is crucial to a speedy recovery as excessive scratching can lead to open sores and further skin damage.

As much as we would like to provide relief to our dogs from itching and scratching, it often depends on the cause. While some home remedies and over-the-counter solutions may prove effective, prescription medications may be required in certain cases to stop the itch at its source. If your initial efforts aren’t providing any relief, seek diagnosis and treatment recommendations from your vet. However, we can always play a part in taking steps to promote healthy skin in our dogs.

Avoid taking too many baths
Just like how hot showers tend to dry out human skin, having too many baths can lead to your dog developing dry and flaky skin. Minimize the number of baths your dog takes, and use skin-soothing shampoos (hyperlink Skin Problem Shampoo) that contains ingredients to help with skin conditions.

Prevent parasites
Prevention is better than cure. It is much easier to prevent fleas, mites or other parasites from biting your dog, as compared to getting rid of them once there is a full-blown infestation. Neem oil is a natural bug repellent that is safe for dogs. Products that contains neem oil (hyperlink Furtonic Spray) can help in the prevention of parasites from your dog.

Feed a diet for healthy skin
There are several ingredients that promote healthy skin and at the same time, support vitality for all dogs. Look out for supplements or diets that contains fish oils, omega fatty acids, probiotics and Vitamin E. This can also be added to your dog’s diet daily for overall health. (hyperlink Flax Seed Oil).

Most dogs experience itching or scratches at some point in their lives. Being observant to your dog’s skin health can help you identify and treat the skin issues as soon as it is discovered. There are so many reasons why dogs chew or scratch, be sure to check with your veterinarian if you notice a problem, when it doesn’t go away despite your efforts. The vet will access your dog’s condition and find out the cause of the behaviour and determine the best treatment plan.


Any views or opinions communicated on this page belong to the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any other organizations. This article is meant for us to share our own views and opinions in general. Kindly consult a professional if you would like to seek professional advice.


Adopted from sources

– Itchiness In Dogs: The Top 4 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Itchy. By Kingsdale.

– Dogs and Compulsive Scratching, Licking and Chewing. By Hilary Parker, Pets Web MD.

– Why is my Dog So Itchy? By MetLife Pet Insurance.

– Images of dogs, Pexels.