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Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

If your dog has dermatitis, you may notice he's been itching, scratching and licking more often. Our Scottsdale vets list what might be causing these skin problems and how you can help treat them. 

Skin Conditions That Lead to Itching & Irritability 

Inevitably, most dogs will experience itching at some point in their lifetimes. In most cases, it will be annoying for your pet but not serious. That said, some conditions do need to be assessed by a vet and will require treatment to prevent them from becoming worse. 

Causes, Symptoms & Treatment 

Several issues can cause your dog to scratch, bite or lick at its fur. Some of the more common ones include:

Parasitic Bites 

One of the most common sources of itching in dogs is bites from mites and fleas. Fortunately, parasitic bites are one of the easiest issues to treat. Your vet can prescribe medication to kill the parasites, and you can give your dog preventive medication to keep ticks, mites and fleas from gaining a foothold in the first place. 


Hives are an allergic reaction that can be caused by many things, from medications to bites. Symptoms appear as a raised bump that can cause the dog's fur to stick out. 

Sometimes, hives will cause swelling near the eyes. The condition can usually be alleviated by using a hypoallergenic shampoo for dogs. A hydrating leave-in condition might also help. Ask your vet what would be the best treatment for your pet. 

Skin Allergies

Because some dogs are prone to allergies, this is a somewhat common reason to visit the vet. Allergens that may cause itching include insects, dander, plants and pollen, among other irritants. 

Aside from itching, some of the most common symptoms of skin allergies include excessive licking or grooming, rashes, sneezing, inflamed skin and watery eyes. Your vet may be able to diagnose the root cause of the allergy and will recommend treatment in addition to ways to prevent allergic reactions in the future. 

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 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.

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 develop into 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.

To learn more about skin problems in dogs or to find out which treatment options our vets recommend for your pup, contact our Scottsdale vets to schedule an appointment.

Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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