Skin Problems in Dogs: Scratching, Itching & Other Conditions

If your dog is licking, scratching, or itching they may have a skin condition called dermatitis. In this blog, our Glendale vets discuss some common causes of dog skin problems and the ways they can be treated.

Skin Problems That Cause Itching & Irritability

The majority of dogs will experience itching at one point in their lives. Most of the time, it will just be annoying for your pooch and nothing serious. But, some problems do have to be addressed by a veterinarian and will need to be treated in order to keep the condition from getting worse.

    Causes, Symptoms & Treatments for Skin Conditions

    There are a handful of potential reasons why your dog might start to bite, lick, or scratch at their fur, and some of the most common ones are:

    Parasitic Bites

    One of the most common causes of itching in dogs is parasite bites from mites and fleas, and luckily they are fairly easy to treat. Your vet will be able to prescribe medication to resolve the parasite problem. You could also be proactive and give your dog medications that help prevent ticks, mites, and fleas 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 another alternative depending on the severity.

    Nutritional Dermatitis

    This issue is fairly uncommon in dogs, but it is possible for them to have an allergic reaction to an ingredient in their food. Generally, nutritional dermatitis causes scratching and skin irritations, however digestive issues such as vomiting or diarrhea may also develop. If your pooch is exhibiting either type of symptom, you should call your vet to schedule an appointment.

    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.


    Hives are another kind of allergic reaction. Hives could develop as a reaction to a variety of things from medications to bites. Symptoms appear as a raised bump that makes a dog's fur stick out.

    Sometimes, hives will develop with swelling near the eyes. You can help relieve the condition with a hypoallergenic shampoo designed for dogs. A hydrating leave-in conditioner might also help. Ask your vet what solution they would recommend for your pup's hives.

    Emergency Situations

    If your dog's itching lasts longer than a few days, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so they can diagnose and treat your pup's condition. Prolonged itching could lead to excessive scratching and biting at the itch which can cause a self-inflicted injury. If this goes unchecked it could become serious. 

    Contact our Glendale vets today to learn more about skin problems in dogs or to schedule an appointment for your dog's skin condition.