Itchy Skin Conditions in Dogs

Dry, flaky or itchy skin in dogs is fairly common and can be caused by a number of conditions. While the catalyst of the skin problem might not be serious, leaving a dog's itchy skin untreated can cause more serious issues, such as hair loss or infection. Determining the cause of your dog's skin problem can take time and might require the assistance of a veterinarian, but there are several ways dog owners can help their pets find relief from itching skin.


One of the most common causes of itchy skin conditions in dogs are fleas and insects. Dogs with a flea problem scratch their backs and tails and gnaw on their legs and hindquarters. Search your dog's coat for fleas, flea faeces and flea eggs, which looks like black and white gritty specks in the dog's hair. Other insects, such as mites, maggots, lice and ticks, also can cause dogs to itch. Owners can purchase special medicated soaps and insect-repelling collars from a pet supplies store to try to treat the problem at home. Consult with a veterinarian on how best to treat your dog if you are unsure how to rid your pet of fleas or other insects.


Allergies are another common reason dogs experience itchy, dry or flaky skin. Dogs can be allergic to insects and insect bites. Flea allergy dermatitis takes the forms of red, itchy bumps on dogs' skin and continue after fleas have been treated. Like humans, dogs can also suffer from allergies. Seasonal dog allergies cause severe itching due to seasonal pollens. This condition is common, but seasonal allergies in dogs can worsen each year. A condition called allergic contact dermatitis is a rash caused by repeated or continuous exposure to an allergen. Dogs also can be allergic to some foods. Call a veterinarian if you suspect your dog suffers from any allergies. The veterinarian can test for and treat most dog allergies.


Some dogs suffer from infections that can cause itchy skin conditions. One such condition is caused by dogs biting at hot spots, which are patches of skin that have been infected by bacteria. Bacteria infiltrates the skin when dogs suffer cuts or scrapes, which makes the surrounding skin irritated and itchy. The combination of persistent scratching by the dog and the bacteria make hot spots heal slowly. Dogs can suffer from parasitic infections, such as damp hay itch, which causes red bumps on skin and severe itching. This infection is caused by parasites and most commonly afflict dogs that lay or play in damp hay or similar grasses. A veterinarian will be able to diagnose skin infections in your pet.


Canine diseases are a more serious cause of itchy skin in dogs. The most common skin disease is dog mange, or scabies. Scabies are tiny mites transmitted by direct contact, most commonly through contaminated grooming equipment and animal kennels. Scabies is highly contagious in dogs, and the disease can spread easily to other pets and humans. Because the disease causes such severe itchiness and is highly contagious, scabies must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.

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About the Author

Jennifer Kimrey earned her bachelor's degree in English writing and rhetoric from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. She's a regular contributor to the "Houston Chronicle" and her work has appeared on Opposing Views Cultures, The Austin American-Statesman, The Red Vault, The Western Vault and various other websites and publications.