Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing


Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Itching, scratching, and licking are signs your dog has a skin condition known as dermatitis. Find out what might be causing the skin problems and how you can help treat them.

Skin Conditions That Cause Itching & Irritability

Itching is something that almost all dogs will experience at some point in their lives. In most cases, your pet will be irritated but not seriously harmed. Some conditions, however, require the attention of a veterinarian and treatment to prevent them from worsening.

    Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

    There are several reasons your dog may start to scratch, lick or bite at their fur. Some of the more common ones include:

    Parasitic Bites

    One of the most common causes of itching in dogs is flea and mite bites, which are also one of the easiest to treat. Your veterinarian may be able to prescribe medication to help you get rid of the parasites. You can also give your dog medication to prevent fleas, mites and ticks from appearing 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.

    Antihistamines and oatmeal baths are two options for treating this condition. Depending on the severity, your veterinarian may recommend a cortisone cream or another treatment option.

    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 — such as diarrhea or vomiting — may happen as well. If your dog is displaying either type of symptom, it's best to make 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.

    Excessive grooming or licking, watery eyes and sneezing, rashes, and inflamed skin are some of the other symptoms. Your veterinarian may be able to determine what is causing the allergy and will prescribe treatment as well as preventative measures.


    Another type of allergic reaction is hives. Hives can be a reaction to many things, like 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 your dog to excessively scratch and bite at the itch, which can create a self-inflicted injury. This can become serious if left unchecked.

    To learn more about skin problems in dogs, or to seek treatment options, contact our Lafayette vets to book an appointment today.

    New Patients Welcome

    Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Boulder County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

    Contact Us

    (720) 214-0270