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Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Excessive scratching, licking and itching in your dog is a sign that they may have a skin condition called dermatitis. Here, our Groton vets explain what might be causing their skin problems and how you can help treat them. 

Skin Conditions That Cause Itching & Irritability

Inevitably, most dogs will encounter some amount of itching in their life that may seem a bit strange to their owners. In the vast majority of cases, this will be a bit annoying for your pet, but not serious. However, there are some conditions that will need to be seen by your vet and will require treatment in order to prevent them from turning into more serious health issues. 

    Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

    There are a number of possible causes for your dog's excessive itching, scratching licking or biting at their own fur or skin. Some of the more common ones include:

    Parasitic Bites

    Bites from mites and fleas are by far one of the most common sources of itching in dogs and are one of the easiest to treat. Your vet can prescribe medication to resolve this parasite issue. You can also proactively give your dog medications to avoid mites, fleas and ticks 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.

    Some suggested ways for you to alleviate this condition can include antihistamines and oatmeal baths. Your vet may also recommend prescriptions cortisone creams or other alternatives depending on the severity of your pet's condition. 

    Nutritional Dermatitis

    This health issue is somewhat uncommon in dogs. However, it is possible that they are having an allergic reaction to something in their food. Generally speaking, nutritional dermatitis causes skin irritations and scratching, but your dog's digestive system may be affected as well. Symptoms may include diarrhea or vomiting in these cases. 

    If your dog is showing either kind of symptoms, 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.

    Some of the symptoms of skin allergies beyond the expected itching, include excessive grooming, sneezing, inflamed skin and rashes appearing on your dog. Your veterinarian may be able to diagnose the root cause of your dog's treatment in addition to future allergic reactions. 


    Another type of allergic reaction is hives. Hives can be a reaction to many things, from 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 you notice that your dog's itching persists for longer than a few days, you should make an appointment with your vet in order to diagnose your pup's issue and treat it. Extended periods of itching or bring at your dog's skin may create a self-inflicted injury. If not promptly addressed, these may become infected and lead ot further health complications down the line.

    If you would like to learn more about treatment for skin issues in dogs, contact Companion Animal Hospital today to book an appointment for you and your pet.

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

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