How to Care for Dogs with Problem Skin

If your dog is constantly scratching and chewing his fur, it's likely he has a skin problem. According to the ASPCA, a dog's skin tells you information about his overall health. Licking and excessive scratching is one symptom for a multitude of reasons. He may have parasites, stress or even allergies. Look for all his symptoms so you can find the cause and take the right steps to properly care for your dog with problem skin.

Examine your dog's skin where he is constantly scratching. One common cause is fleas or ticks. If you see tiny dark brown fleas on your pet's skin, wash him with a flea shampoo. Rinse him and then give him a topical flea control between his shoulders once he is dry.

Apply anti-fungal cream to your dog if she has ringworm. If she has a patch that is hairless and has scaly lesions, take your dog to the vet to perform a ringworm culture. Once diagnosed, use the anti-fungal cream twice a day and bathe her with an anti-fungal shampoo.

Bathe your dog less if she seems to be scratching or licking after you use shampoo on her fur. If she has red skin after a bath, switch to a hypoallergenic shampoo recommended for her breed. Also, overuse of shampoo and pet sprays may cause allergic reactions. Wait a week without using the products to see if the scratching and redness stops.

Offer your dog a new toy if he is always licking himself in the same spot. Licking can be a sign of boredom or stress. Create a schedule of long walks and playing with a new toy. Use positive reinforcement when he is not licking and playing with his toy.

Check your dog's stool to see if it is runny. Dogs with diarhhea, vomiting, swollen paws, red and runny eyes and breathing difficulties may have allergies. Change his food if it is a food allergy, or alter his bedding. Seasonal allergies that affect humans can affect dogs as well. Check with your veterinarian for a canine allergy test.

Give your dog an essential fatty acids supplement if you find that her overall coat is dull. She may be missing minerals and vitamins from her diet. Check her dog food to see if it is balanced and nutritious and choose a food for her breed and weight.

Brush your dog's hair regularly to prevent matting. Matting is when the hairs become so knotted that she may start scratching the area. Matting is common behind the ears and wherever she has longer hair.

Weigh your dog to see if he has gained significant weight with excessive scratching. If your dog gains weight unexpected and his skin thickens, it may be a sign of thyroid disease. Check with your veterinarian, your dog may need synthetic thyroid hormone medicine.


Vacuum your house regularly to prevent allergies to dust and other insects. Do not smoke around your dog. Some dogs are allergic or sensitive to the smoke. Take your dog to the veterinarian at least once a year for wellness visits. Ask for blood and stool tests to be taken.


Ask your vet first before starting any kind of skin treatment.

Things You'll Need

  • Flea shampoo
  • Topical flea control
  • Anti-fungal cream
  • Anti-fungal shampoo
  • Hypoallergenic shampoo
  • New dog toy
  • Essential fatty acids supplement
  • Nutritious food
  • Dog brush
  • Scale
  • Synthetic thyroid hormone medicine
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About the Author

Charong Chow has been writing professionally since 1995. Her work has appeared in magazines such as "Zing" and "Ocean Drive." Chow graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. She also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts.