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Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Itching, scratching, and licking are signs your dog has a skin condition. Our Gaithersburg vets will let you know what might be causing your dog's skin problems, how you can help treat them, and when your dog's skin issue requires emergency veterinary care.

Itching, Scratching & Irritability

Most dogs will inevitably encounter itching at some point. Itchy skin conditions can lead to relentless scratching and make your dog miserable. While these skin conditions can be annoying for your pet they aren't usually serious. That said, some conditions do need veterinary care and will require treatment to prevent them from becoming more severe.

    Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

    There are countless reasons why your dog may start to scratch, lick, or bite at its fur but some of the more common causes of itchy skin include:

    Parasitic Bites
    • Bites from fleas and mites are one of the most common sources of itching in dogs and can be one of the easiest to treat. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to quickly resolve your dog's parasite issue. You can also proactively give your dog medication to avoid parasites such as fleas, mites, or ticks in the first place.
    Environmental Dermatitis
    • This common skin irritation in dogs 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. Antihistamines or oatmeal baths are effective ways to alleviate this condition. Your vet may recommend a cortisone cream or other alternative depending on the severity of your dog's skin condition.
    Nutritional Dermatitis
    • This tends to be a relatively uncommon issue for dogs, however, it is possible for your dog to have an allergic reaction to something in their food. Typically, nutritional dermatitis results in skin irritations and scratching, but digestive issues can also occur, such as diarrhea or vomiting. If your dog is displaying either type of symptom, it's best to make an appointment with your primary care vet.
    Skin Allergies
    • Several dog breeds are prone to allergies, making this a somewhat common reason to visit the vet. Allergens that cause itchy skin can be found in pollen, dander, plants, or insects, among other things. Symptoms that your dog may experience aside from itching include excessive grooming or licking, watery eyes and sneezing, rashes, and inflamed skin. Your vet may be able to diagnose what is causing the allergy and recommend treatment, however more severe cases may require specialist care.
    • Hives are another type of allergic reaction that can be seen in dogs. Hives can be a reaction to many things, from medications to bites and more. Symptoms show as a raised bump that causes the dog's fur to stick out or swell near and around the eyes. Using a hypoallergenic shampoo for dogs often helps to alleviate this condition. A dog-specific 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 48 hours, you should make an appointment so your vet can diagnose the issue and treat your dog's annoying skin condition. Prolonged itching can cause excessive scratching and bite at the source which can result in self-inflicted injuries and some cases infections. This can become serious if left unchecked. 

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    At Gaithersburg, our vets provide specialist and emergency care for pets in need. If your pet requires urgent veterinary care contact us right away, or come directly to our emergency animal hospital. 

    New Patients Welcome

    Veterinary Referral Associates is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gaithersburg companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

    Contact (301) 926-3300