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Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

If you find your dog furiously scratching at their skin then they may be experiencing an issue like a bug bite or allergies. Here, our Turlock vets talk about the different types of dog skin problems and how our allergy and dermatology department can help with pet skin care.

Why is my dog scratching so much?

If your dog occasionally stops for a good scratch then there likely isn't anything to worry about. However, if the scratching and discomfort persist, you should take the time to schedule a visit with our veterinary dermatology team. Your vet will perform diagnostic testing to help determine the cause of their itchy skin and treat your dog quickly to provide relief.

What are the signs of skin problems in dogs?

Excessive scratching is the most common signs that your dog may be suffering form a skin problem, but it is not the only sign. Some other common symptoms of skin issues are:

  • Inflammation
  • Redness or discoloration
  • Lesions or scabs
  • Scaly patches
  • Rashes
  • Dry or flaky skin
  • Bald patches
  • Swelling or lumps
  • Hot spots

The symptoms that your dog experiences will vary depending on the underlying cause. You should also know that many different skin problems can have fairly similar symptoms. This makes it incredibly important to bring your dog in for veterinary care to have their condition diagnosed. This allows for the proper treatment to help ease your furry friend's discomfort and avoid complications.

    What are the different types of skin problems in dogs?

    There are many different possible causes for dogs skin problems, some of the most common being:

    Parasitic Infections

    If your dog is exposed to external parasites, like fleas and ticks, then they may be doing some heavy scratching. But thankfully, they are also one of the easiest to treat. Your vet will be able to prescribe medication to help resolve the parasite issue. But you will need to conduct a thorough cleaning of your living space, especially the areas that your dog frequents.

    There are also preventive medications you can give your dog to avoid fleas, mites, or ticks in the first place.

    Environmental Dermatitis

    If your dog has a sensitivity to environmental factors like grass then it can lead them to have itchy skin. Some other symptoms of this kind of skin irritation include dry and cracked skin, blisters, rashes, swelling, and redness.

    Suggested ways to alleviate this condition include antihistamines or oatmeal baths. Your vet may recommend a cortisone cream or other alternative depending on the severity.

    Nutritional Dermatitis

    While not entirely common, it is possible for dogs to develop a sensitivity or allergy to an ingredient in their food. Typically, nutritional dermatitis results in skin irritations and scratching, but digestive issues may occur as well, such as diarrhea or vomiting. If your dog is displaying either type of symptom, it's best to make an appointment with your vet.

    If your dog has been diagnosed with nutritional dermatitis, your vet will be sure to recommend changing your dog's diet to remove the allergen.

    Skin Allergies

    Allergies can be quite common among dogs, making this problem one of the common factors behind skin issues and scratching. Allergens that cause itching can include pollen, dander, plants, or insects, among other things.

    Some common symptoms of skin allergies, besides itching, include excessive grooming, licking, watery eyes, rashes, sneezing, and inflamed skin. The vet will diagnose the cause of the skin allergies and help to develop a treatment plan and preventive measures to avoid future reactions.


    One common type of reaction to allergies is hives. Hives can be caused by many different things, from bites to medications. Symptoms show as a raised bump that would cause the dog's fur to stick out.

    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.

    Dry Skin

    Dry skin is an issue that can affect dogs at any time in their life and will typically happen at least once in their life as well. One of the easiest ways to check for dry skin is by physically looking for any scaly, patchy skin. If your dog has been scratching the area, they may also have red or inflamed skin.

    Some of the typical factors causing dry skin are:


    If you live in an area that has a relatively low level of humidity, then your dog may have dry skin. This is likely more common during the colder, winter months when you have heat on in the house.


    Dry skin can also be caused by skin allergies. Products containing fragrances, like shampoos, are typically more likely to cause allergic reactions.


    Dogs that don't drink enough water throughout the day are susceptible to dehydration. This can have many effects like dry skin. Always make sure that your dog has access to clean drinking water, especially while you are out on walks or hikes.

    Dietary Issues

    While you want to make sure that your dog isn't eating an excess of fat in their diet, it should never be cut out entirely. A good balance of healthy fats can help with the production of oils that help to protect their skin and fur. Always be sure to check the ingredients listed on your dog's food to make sure that they are getting everything they need. Your vet can help make dietary recommendations if you need help.

    Is my dog's skin condition considered an emergency?

    If you notice that your dog's itching persists for longer than a few days without relief, you should schedule an examination with your vet to have their condition diagnosed and treated. Prolonged itching and scratching may even grow so bad as to cause a self-inflicted injury.

    Veterinary Allergy & Dermatology Pet Care in Turlock

    At Community Veterinary Clinic, we are proud to offer a number of dog and cat dermatology services, including testing, diagnosis, and treatment for many different skin issues like the ones listed above. Using our in-house lab, we can determine the cause of your pet’s dermatological problem and provide a treatment plan geared to your pet's specific condition and needs. We are here to treat your dog or cat's skin issues, just as you would see a dermatologist for yours.

    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.

    Is your dog or cat in need of allergy or dermatology treatment for itchy, scratchy skin? Book an appointment at Community Veterinary Clinic in Turlock for a consultation.

    New Patients Welcome

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

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