Veterinarian Dr. Hanlon

Mark W. Hanlon, VMD

Medical Director, Owner
Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital
Gilbertsville, PA

Veterinarian Dr. Bourgeois

Ashley Bourgeois, DVM, DACVD

Veterinary Dermatologist
Owner / Board of Directors
Animal Dermatology Clinic Portland
Portland, OR

Why is my dog always scratching itself?

An occasional itch may be quite normal, but it should never interrupt activities, or cause hair loss or skin damage. It also should not be often enough that it is bothersome to the owner.

Could my dog’s itching be due to allergies?

Yes. Frequent or constant scratching, licking, biting, scooting, and/or rubbing are most often signs of an allergic skin disease. Common allergic skin disease in dogs occurs in response to fleas; food; or environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, or dust mites. In fact, many people may not realize that dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies and irritation just like we do.

How do I know if my dog’s itching is too much?

Although an occasional itch may be normal, it can often be difficult to distinguish between an occasional itch and one that occurs often enough to indicate something more serious, so it’s important to rely on your dog’s body language—or your own instinct. A good rule of thumb is if your dog’s itching is disruptive to you and your dog’s life or damages your dog’s skin, chances are there may be an underlying medical problem and you should talk to your veterinarian.

What should I do if my dog’s itching seems to be more frequent than normal?

It’s important to get answers early – especially since continual scratching and itching can lead to additional problems, including infection. Talk to your veterinarian about safe and effective solutions.

Is redness or rash along with scratching a sign of allergic skin disease?

If your dog is scratching, licking, or biting the same area over and over again, the skin can become damaged, red, and develop sores. It could be a result of an underlying condition, such as allergic or atopic dermatitis. By treating the source of itch, and helping to reduce scratching behavior, skin has time to heal. That’s why it is important to treat the cause of itch early.

Is there treatment that can help?

There are safe and effective prescription medicines available that provide relief of allergic or atopic dog itch, so your itchy dog can get back to feeling better. Click here to learn more about an oral treatment. There’s also the option of an injectable treatment that lasts 4 to 8 weeks for dogs diagnosed with long-term itch. Click here to learn more.

What about topical steroids or antihistamines for my dog’s itch?

While it's common for pet owners to try home remedies and over-the-counter medicine first, these treatments rarely provide relief. This causes frustration and disappointment and sometimes side effects, like excessive drowsiness with antihistamines.1 Steroids can have undesirable side effects such as excessive drinking and panting, as well as frequent urination which can cause “accidents.”2

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Should you talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s itching? Take this quiz.

You will not only be helping your dog, but you will also be helping service dogs in need. By completing the quiz,* Zoetis will donate to expand the number of dogs in its K-9 Courage Program, which provides financial and in-kind product donations to retired military dogs, active police dogs, and active service dogs that assist veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.


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For many years, steroids or antihistamines were the only treatment for allergic dog itch. However, treating with these types of therapies also meant dealing with certain unpleasant side effects.

Antihistamines, for instance, can cause drowsiness, panting, and trembling.2 They also have been shown to have little or no benefit in treating skin allergies in most dogs because they don't get to the underlying cause of itch.3 Steroids can cause increased urination, drinking, and weight gain as well as behavior changes, such as aggression.4,5 In addition to these physical signs that cause suffering for you and your pet, these side effects can be emotionally taxing and even impact you financially --with additional veterinary visits, medicines, and even the cost of cleaning soiled carpets or furniture due to “accidents.”6

Today there are treatments designed specifically for dogs to help relieve itch and the desire to scratch, while also targeting inflammation, redness or swelling of the skin.6 Ask your veterinarian about effective treatment for allergic dog itch, including daily oral tablets and an injectable that can provide relief that lasts 4 to 8 weeks.