Dog itching

Key takeaway

An itchy dog is something many pet owners are familiar with, but when is it something to worry about? If it’s persistent or accompanied by other symptoms, like hair loss, it’s time to seek solutions for itch relief. Depending on the severity, you can stop dog itching with home remedies like oatmeal baths or aloe vera, or prescribed medication from your vet.

If you’re wondering why your dog’s itching, you’re not the only one. Allergic dermatitis, which causes itchy and irritated skin, is a very common condition that pet owners everywhere deal with. In fact, according to a 2019 Nationwide Survey that analyzed pet insurance data, allergic dermatitis was the most common reason pet owners brought their dogs into the vet between 2012 and 2019.1

Graphic stating that allergic dermatitis is the top reason pet owners took their dog to the vet between 2012 and 2019.

If you notice your dog itching, then it’s time to take steps that put a stop to the problem. There are a number of reasons your dog may be feeling itchy—perhaps they have fleas or contracted a contagious skin disease like mange. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to address the source of the problem and help your dog find relief as soon as possible.

In this article, we’ll explain possible reasons why your dog is constantly itching and explore the different forms of itch relief available. To learn more about why your dog’s itching and what you can do about it, read on. Or, if you’re interested in one section, in particular, feel free to skip to any part of the article using the links below.

Why Is My Dog Itching?

If your dog’s been scratching or chewing at itself more often than usual, you may be wondering why. There are a variety of reasons why your dog may be itching. Perhaps your mind immediately jumps to fleas, and this wouldn’t be a bad guess—fleas and other parasites are often responsible for dog skin allergies and itching. However, fleas aren’t the only explanation for your dog’s itching. Below, we’ll explore a few of the reasons why your dog may be itching so much.1

Graphic with list of reasons why dogs itch

Fleas

Fleas, mites, and ticks are common culprits when it comes to your dog’s itchiness. These blood-sucking bugs can stealthily latch onto your beloved pet and quickly reproduce. Some dogs and cats have hypersensitivity to flea saliva, thus flea bites can lead to your pet itching at itself intensely.

Keep in mind that fleas are tiny and can easily go unseen until the infestation becomes severe. So, if your dog’s itching at itself, inspect their skin and look for tiny little black dots. Alternatively, you can take your pet to the vet and they can check for you.

Allergies

As humans, we have a lot in common with dogs. We enjoy affection, we like socializing outdoors, we love food. Unfortunately, both humans and dogs are also vulnerable to allergies. Like us, dogs may suffer allergic reactions to specific foods and environmental allergens. This can result in discomfort and itchiness, among other problems.

Mange

Mange is a common skin disease in dogs caused by mites that burrow into dogs’ skin or live in the hair follicles. The condition can cause extreme itchiness, hair loss, redness, and a thickening of the skin. If left untreated, mange is an infection that can quickly spread.


Boredom or Anxiety

In some cases, your dog’s itching isn’t caused by parasites or infection or other physical problems. Instead, the dog’s itching may be a result of a behavioral problem. Boredom and anxiety can lead some dogs to engage in compulsive, self-destructive behavior. A dog that’s constantly itching and scratching and biting at their skin due to boredom or anxiety can create more serious skin problems in the long term.

When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog’s Itching?

Just about every pet itches and grooms itself from time to time. While dogs aren’t as well known for their meticulous grooming habits as cats, it’s not uncommon for them to lick or scratch at themselves here and there. However, if you notice your dog’s itching itself more often than usual, it may be a red flag.

Frequent itching, irritated skin, and loss of hair are a few of the signs you should watch out for in your dog. If they display one or more of these symptoms, it may be a good idea to pursue the issue further. Closely examine their skin for redness, flakiness, or signs of parasites.

As always, a qualified vet is the best source to obtain a diagnosis and treatment plan for your furry friend.

How To Stop Dog Itching

Excessive scratching, chewing, and itching by your dog can result in more severe damage over time, which is why it’s best to deal with the issue sooner rather than later.

So how do you stop dog itching? The answer depends on why your dog is itching itself in the first place. By tackling the root cause of the problem, you can stop your dog from itching so much and in turn, rule out more serious issues.

Graphic with list of home/natural remedies for dog itching 

Home Remedies For Dog Itching

Sometimes you can treat your dog’s itchiness from the comfort of your own home. Below, we’ve listed out a number of possible home remedies for dog itching:

  • Choose a new protein source: Some dogs have food allergies or sensitivities that can lead to skin problems. Attempting to feed a different protein source can help them avoid allergic reactions to particular foods. Consider trying out fish-based dog foods as opposed to the traditional beef, chicken, and turkey-based dog foods. Consult with your vet before making any dietary changes. If your pet does have a dog food allergy, a prescribed elimination diet is the most effective solution for allergy management.
  • Baths with non-irritating shampoo: Studies have shown that weekly 10 minute baths with a non-irritating shampoo such as aloe and oatmeal based shampoos helps reduce the severity of itchiness by half within 24 hours.2
  • Coconut oil: In some cases, coconut oil can be helpful in alleviating itchiness and dry skin in small areas. Massage solidified coconut oil onto the affected areas of your dog’s skin to achieve the best results.4 If the itchiness is widespread, we do not recommend coating your pet in coconut oil.

Image of dog taking a bath to treat itchiness

Medicine & Treatments For Dog Itching

If your dog’s skin affliction is severe or home remedies don’t prove effective, it may be time to visit your veterinarian. A vet can review your dog’s medical history, diagnose the issue, and recommend a treatment plan that addresses the root of the problem. To solve dog itching in some cases, the vet may prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, or anti-itch products.

If you want to quickly meet with a top-quality vet, try out Dutch.com. We partner with top vets across the country who can consult with you online and design a personalized treatment plan based around your pet’s needs. Best of all, prescriptions are delivered directly to your doorstep.

Dog Itching: Frequently Asked Questions

Still wondering why your dog is constantly itching? We’ve rounded up some frequently asked questions to help you deal with dog itching safely and efficiently.

Why is my dog so itchy but has no fleas?

Fleas aren’t the only cause for your dog constantly itching. Dog itching can also be caused by food allergies, environmental allergies, and various other parasites.

What can I give my dog for his itchy skin?

There are many home remedies that can help soothe a dog’s itchy skin. Non-irritating baths, applying coconut oil, or making dietary changes can all potentially relieve itchiness and discomfort. To identify the root cause and identify a path for long-term treatment, talk with your vet.

What to do if your dog is itching a lot?

If your dog is itching a lot, this can point to an allergy or skin condition. In this case, you might check for fleas and other parasites to see if you can find anything. If your dog continues itching and you don’t understand why, contact a qualified vet.

Dog playing and rolling around in grass

Final Notes

If you’re asking why your dog is itching, there’s no simple answer. Several different factors can cause dog itching, from a flea infestation to a food allergy. Nevertheless, if you find that your dog is itching constantly and displaying signs of discomfort, it’s time to take action.

With Dutch.com, you don’t have to wait weeks to see a vet. Instead, you can quickly address your dog’s skin condition and receive a customized treatment plan from a highly trained vet—all without leaving your home. Simply set up an online consultation and we can start working towards finding a viable solution for your dog’s constant itching.

No pet owner wants their dog to feel itchy and uncomfortable. Use one or more of the methods in this article to stop your dog’s itching and provide your furry friend with some much-needed relief.

Dr. Evans is the Clinical Director of Dutch and the owner of Coastal Animal Hospital.

References

  1. Olivry, Thierry, et al. “Treatment of Canine Atopic Dermatitis: 2010 Clinical Practice Guidelines from the International Task Force on Canine Atopic Dermatitis.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 23 Apr. 2010, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-3164.2010.00889.x.