Why is My Dog Itching So Much? 5 Possible Reasons
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Dog itching, or pruritus, is a condition that affects many pups throughout their lives. While most cases are easily treatable, itchiness can also be a sign of more serious issues, including an allergy or infection.
It can be stressful and painful, so for your dog’s well-being, it’s best to take a proactive approach to treatment. That means keeping a close eye on your pup for signs of itching, getting prompt treatment, and taking steps to prevent common causes of itchiness.
If you are wondering if your dog is showing signs of allergic itching, take the quiz below.
Does Your Pet Have Skin Allergies?
1. How frequently does your pet seem itchy?
2. Where does your pet scratch the most?
3. Which season is your pet’s symptoms the most noticeable?
4. How often does your pet seem uncomfortable?
5. Can you see any of the following symptoms on your pet’s skin?
6. Is your pet experiencing any of the following symptoms?
Does Your Pet Have Skin Allergies?
In this article, we will review the top 5 causes of dog itching, how to prevent itching, and how to treat itching that is already causing your pup discomfort.
1. Environmental Allergies
Environmental allergies are one of the most common causes of itching in dogs. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies to pollen, dust mites, or mold. This may cause seasonal itching or, depending on the allergen, could affect your dog year-round. Pups may develop a condition called atopy, which is a medical term for irritated skin caused by inhaling allergens like pollen.
Dogs suffering from seasonal allergies might respond to injections designed to expose them to allergens gradually. Allergy desensitization injections could potentially help your dog acclimate to the allergen and reduce symptoms over time.
2. Food Allergies
Dogs may also suffer from food allergies or dietary intolerances. Some dogs are intolerant or allergic to chicken, beef, pork, or other ingredients commonly found in dog food. If your pup is suffering from an allergic food reaction, this may present as a rash, hives, or ear infections.
Hypoallergenic dog food may help to relieve symptoms if you suspect that your dog is suffering from a food allergy. An elimination diet over a period of several weeks in combination with allergy testing, is used by veterinarians to diagnose the root of the allergies.
During a nutritional consultation, your veterinarian will be able to recommend foods for your dog to try to prevent future reactions.
Discover the Recipe for a Healthy Pet
Consult with one of our vets about your pet’s nutritional needs and long-term health.
3. Flea Allergies
Flea bites and flea bite allergies are common causes of itchiness in dogs. Fleas typically bite the areas they can access most easily and areas more sheltered from their hosts - your dog’s hind legs and rear - so make sure to inspect those areas carefully (although fleas can bite anywhere).
Treatment for fleas is easy and stress-free and can be done with a simple flea shampoo and oral or topical preventatives. It is important to remember that many flea shampoos or rinses will only treat the fleas on your dog at that time and will not prevent further fleas from biting. You will also want to thoroughly clean your dog’s toys, blankets, bed, and any other areas of the home where they typically spend time, to ensure that no other fleas or flea eggs are present in your home.
If flea allergies or bites go unnoticed and untreated, they can develop into flea allergy dermatitis, an allergic reaction causing severe pain and/or itching. It’s best to have your dog evaluated and treated by a veterinary professional before their condition reaches that level of distress.
4. Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is a condition that develops from exposure to or direct touching of common household items like cleaning products, bath products, plants (including grasses), and insecticides. If your dog develops contact dermatitis, they will typically itch or develop a rash in the specific area that touched the allergen.
If your dog is suffering from contact dermatitis, they may develop skin infections, including pyoderma, a bacterial infection that results from excessive scratching. If left untreated, complications from itching can cause your dog severe distress and lead to additional skin problems.
5. Insect Bites or Sarcoptic Mange
Aside from flea bites, other insect bites can also cause serious irritation to your pup’s skin. They may develop sarcoptic mange, a condition caused by mites that leads to inflammation and severe itching.
If your dog is scratching, biting, or licking one area of their body excessively, they may be dealing with irritation from an insect bite. To proactively manage irritation, regularly inspect their body and remove any insects that you find.
If you do notice your dog itching or scratching, their discomfort may be managed with veterinary approved topical treatments like shampoos, ointments, or prescription topical steroids to treat their itching.
Treatment for Itchy Skin on Dogs
Itchy skin can cause extreme discomfort to your pet, so treating it quickly and effectively is essential. While there are home remedies that may help relieve some or all of their pain, I recommend having your dog evaluated by a licensed veterinarian before beginning any treatment.
An experienced veterinarian will be able to offer guidance on home treatment options or prescribe products or medications that will relieve your pup’s symptoms. Before beginning any course of treatment, a consultation with a vet is strongly recommended.
Once we have identified that your dog is suffering from itchy skin, we will pinpoint the source of their discomfort.
- If they are dealing with flea bites, a flea shampoo in combination with a long lasting preventative may be helpful.
- For an allergic reaction, antihistamines may manage discomfort or allergen desensitization shots may reduce the severity of their reactions.
- Extremely itchy dogs may also benefit from prescriptions such as Apoquel or Cytopoint to quickly relieve symptoms.
Diagnosis may be as simple as scheduling a wellness exam, but sometimes, your dog may require additional testing, including skin scrapings or allergy testing. No matter the cause, we will thoroughly evaluate your pet to determine what is causing their itchiness and develop a plan to resolve their discomfort.
When to Seek Guidance From a Vet
If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, seeking professional advice from a qualified veterinarian is the best course of action to relieve symptoms. Dogs may not always show symptoms, so having them evaluated by a qualified professional can rule out potential causes and outline the best treatment plan.
Especially if your dog is experiencing severe symptoms, including excessive scratching, licking, chewing, or recurring ear infections, it’s important to contact a qualified veterinarian to seek help with reducing their irritation.
Itching can be a painful condition for dogs, even if they aren’t able to tell you what’s wrong. Paying close attention to your pup’s behavior and conducting regular skin checks is a great way to stay on top of their health and prevent symptoms from occurring altogether. If your pet is already suffering from irritation, having them thoroughly evaluated by one of our expert veterinarians ensures they’ll quickly receive the care they need to find comfort.
If you’re concerned that your pup is suffering from itchiness or irritation, contact us today for an evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What remedies can I get to stop my dog itching?
Itchy dogs may benefit from various treatments depending on the cause and severity of their itching. I always recommend having an itchy dog evaluated by a veterinarian for the best line of treatment. Dogs may find relief at home from antihistamine creams, flea shampoos, or preventatives to combat insect bites.
Can I give my dog Benadryl for itchy skin?
Benadryl is safe for dogs to take as long as they are given an appropriate dosage. Before giving your dog an oral antihistamine, consult a veterinarian to confirm the correct dosage.
Can I use an anti-itch cream on my dog?
Absolutely. Topical anti-itch creams can be beneficial for relieving symptoms of itchy skin in dogs. Depending on the needs of your pup, an over-the-counter or prescription cream may be recommended. Do not let your dog lick the cream after application and if you are reaching for a steroid cream, consult a veterinarian to ensure its safety.
Why is my dog's itching worse at night?
Dogs may become more itchy at night due to environmental factors like their skin drying out or additional exposure to irritants like dust or cleaning products. If your pup is struggling with nighttime itchiness, let us know, and we’ll be able to recommend the best treatment option to relieve their symptoms.
How do I prevent my dog from developing itchy skin?
Preventative care like regular grooming, topical or oral flea preventatives, worm treatments, maintaining regular hygiene, promoting a healthy diet, and regularly checking for insect bites and skin conditions will help keep your dog’s skin healthy. Any issues will be noticed quickly and can then be addressed by a qualified veterinarian to keep your dog itch-free and comfortable.