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Dog Skin Problems: Dog Scratching, Itching, & More

Has your dog been itching, scratching and licking more lately? These are signs that your pooch has a skin condition referred to as dermatitis. Learn what may be causing the skin problems and how you can help treat them. 

Why is my dog scratching? 

At some point in their lifetimes, most dogs will inevitably encounter itching, scratching and irritability. Typically, it will be annoying for your pet but not a serious issue. 

That said, some conditions to need to be checked by a vet and will require treatment to prevent them from worsening. 

There are many potential causes, symptoms and treatment options for dogs who experience different types of dermatitis, parasites, skin allergies or other issues. 

In this post, we'll explore these and what can be done about each. 

Dog Skin Problems, Charlotte Vets

Skin Conditions in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment 

If your dog is biting, licking or scratching at their fur, there may be numerous potential causes. Some of the more common ones include:

Parasitic Bites

Mite and flea bites are one of the most common sources of itching in dogs, yet one of the easiest to treat. Your vet will be able to prescribe medication to kill the parasites and resolve the problem. We also recommended giving your dog medication to avoid ticks, fleas and mites in the first place.

Environmental Dermatitis 

Certain substances such as plants, grass and dirt can lead to the development of this skin irritation in your pooch. Symptoms include cracked, dry or itchy skin, swelling, blisters or redness. 

To alleviate this condition, we recommend oatmeal baths or antihistamines. Depending on the severity of the condition, your vet may also recommend a cortisone cream or alternative.

Nutritional Dermatitis 

While a relatively uncommon issue for dogs, it is possible for them to have an allergic reaction to an ingredient in their food. Nutritional dermatitis typically leads to scratching and skin irritation, but digestive issues such as vomiting or diarrhea may also occur. If your dog is exhibiting either type of symptom, please book 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 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-inflected injury. This can become serious and cause a veterinary emergency 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.

Skin and coat checks are part of our routine exams at Providence Animal Hospital. If your dog is due for a checkup or you spot an issue, please contact our experienced Charlotte vets to book an appointment.

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