Why Does My Dog Keep Scratching?

Your dog’s excessive scratching could be caused by a variety of factors including fleas, allergies, or infections, each with different options for treatment.

November 19, 2021
3 min read

Article Highlights

  • Fleas cause excessive scratching.

  • Environmental and dietary allergies irritate the skin.

  • Skin infections lead to itching.

Fleas and Insects

If you notice your dog excessively scratching, they could have fleas. Check their fur for visible signs of fleas or other parasites that may be causing skin irritation. These can be treated with regular flea treatments. Frequent vacuuming and anti-mite mattresses for your dog can also help with dust mites and external parasites.

Allergies

Dogs can have environmental or dietary allergies. They are commonly allergic to certain molds, mites, seasonal grass, tree pollen, beef, dairy, and wheat. Wiping your dog’s face and feet after you take them on a walk may help with their environmental allergies by reducing their contact with the pollen. If you think your dog might have dietary allergies, your vet may run an allergy test or you can try an exclusion diet to see if your dog is allergic to a specific food.

Infections

Two of the most common skin infections in dogs are yeast infections and ringworm. Yeast infections are found in warm and moist areas, often the ears, toes, or vaginal area. They are identifiable by localized redness and distinctive smell. Yeast infections can be treated topically with veterinarian prescribed medicines, apple cider vinegar, anti-fungal shampoo, and probiotics. A possible cause for yeast infections may be high carb diets, so your vet may recommend a change in your dog’s diet.

Dogs can develop ringworm from direct contact with the fungus. Signs of ringworm are often found on the scalp, feet, and groin. Ringworm creates red patches on the skin, with a ring around them, and can blister. This condition is commonly treated with medical shampoo, ointment, or oral medication.

Treatments

Changes to your dog’s diet and hygiene may reduce their excessive scratching caused by irritated skin. Some foods are rich in nutrients and oils that specifically support skin and fur health. Fish oils are high in omega 3s and can act as an anti-inflammatory. Talk with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

There are many ways to improve your dog’s hygiene to reduce skin irritation. Bathing your dog every couple of months and brushing them after walks can help keep their fur clean and clear of any debris or pollen. Shampoos containing vitamins A, D, E, aloe vera, colloidal oatmeal, or ceramides support skin health. There are also oral supplements that contain these same nutrients. Trimming excess hair around your dog’s ears can reduce the risk of yeast infections. Reducing excessive scratching is important because scratching can lead to broken skin, making your dog more prone to other infections. Clipping your dog’s nails when appropriate can prevent injury from scratching.

Skin irritation can stem from a variety of causes, and many different types of treatment are available, both over-the-counter therapies as well as veterinary prescribed medicines. If you think your dog has a serious skin infection or allergy, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss appropriate diagnostics and treatment options.

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