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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 from our West Salem vets.

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.

    Why is my dog scratching & itching?

    If your dog begins to scratch, lick, or bite at their fur, there are a few possible explanations for this behavior. The following are some of the more ubiquitous ones:

    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 causes the skin to become irritated when it comes into contact with particular substances, such as plants, grass, and dirt. In addition to rashes, blisters, redness, or swelling, symptoms may include skin that is itchy, dry, or cracked.

    In order to treat this condition, two different options are available: antihistamines and oatmeal baths. 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

    It is not uncommon for dogs to suffer from allergies, which is why it is important to take them to the veterinarian. Pollen, dander, plants, and insects are just some of the things that can contain allergens that cause itching.

    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.


    Hives are an additional type of allergic reaction. Numerous things, such as bites or medications, can cause hives to appear on the skin. The symptoms manifest themselves as a raised bump that causes the dog's fur to protrude from its body.

    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 West Salem vets to book an appointment today.

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

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