Frequent itching and scratching in dogs is most commonly caused by infection, parasites or allergies to fleas, food or environmental allergens. Below are some common medical conditions and tips to help you identify a potential reason for your dog’s itch:


Staph infections in dogs

Staph Infections

When a dog’s skin is irritated or their immune system is compromised, it creates conditions where bacterial overgrowth may occur, leading to a more serious infection. Signs of staph include skin redness, crusts/scabs, rash and pimples.

Yeast infections in dogs

Yeast Infections

This is a type of fungal infection that is often seen in dogs with itchy skin disease or who have been treated with antibiotics in the past. The skin is often greasy, red, thickened and has an odor.

Eczema in dogs


This is a common term for itchy, red and inflamed skin. It describes the signs of a several skin diseases that are often caused by allergies.

Hot spots in dogs

Hot Spots

These are focal areas of intense irritation that lead to redness and oozing. They can appear very quickly and cause discomfort.

Flea allergies can cause itching in dogs.

Flea Allergy

This is an allergic reaction to flea bites that cause inflamed and itchy skin, hair loss, and scabs on the dog's skin. The hind end, tail base and thighs are usually affected more than the front of the body or the head.

Food allergies can cause itching in dogs.

Food Allergy

This occurs when a dog is allergic (or excessively reactive or hypersensitive) to something in their diet. It is characterized by itching that often involves the face, the armpits, belly and feet. Ear irritation and infections as well as skin infections are common. Dogs may have gas, increased bowel movements or loose stools.

Environmental allergens can cause itching in dogs.

Environmental Allergy

This occurs when dogs have allergies (or excessive reactivity or hypersensitivity) to pollens, dust mites or mold spores. Affected dogs have itching, redness and hair loss of the face, the undersides and the feet. Ear rubbing or head shaking are common. Infections in the ears and the skin frequently occur.

Next: When it's more than just an itch

Itching to know quiz

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

By completing the “Itch Instinct” quiz*, you will trigger a donation by Zoetis to expand the number of recipients in its K-9 Courage™ Program, which provides financial and in-kind product donations to retired military and active police dogs as well as active service dogs that assist veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.

*One entry per person.

If your dog has frequent itching, your veterinarian can help!

For many years, corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, or antihistamines were the only treatment for itch relief in dogs. However, steroids and immunosuppressive drugs can have serious long-term side effects such as increased panting, liver disease, and risk of infection, and antihistamines can cause severe drowsiness.

There is another treatment available that decreases dogs’ itches and desire to scratch, while also reducing inflammation, redness or swelling of the skin. Get information about a treatment option for allergic itching.

Your vet can help with frequent dog itching.