Frequent itching and scratching in dogs is most commonly caused by infection; parasites; or allergies to fleas, food, or environmental allergens.1 Below are some common medical conditions and tips to help you identify a potential reason for your dog’s itch:


Staph infections in dogs


When a dog’s skin is inflamed and irritated due to scratching from allergic skin disease, or their immune system is compromised, it creates conditions where bacteria can multiply, leading to infection. Signs of staph bacterial infections 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. Folded areas of skin such as face and lip folds, ears, under the neck, between the toes on paws, and under the tail are often affected. The skin is often greasy, red, thickened, and has an odor. Yeast infections can be very itchy!

Eczema in dogs

ECZEMA (or allergic dermatitis)

This is a common term for itchy, red, and inflamed skin used most often in human medicine. It describes the signs of several skin diseases that are often caused by allergies. In dogs, the condition is best described as allergic dermatitis.

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 fleabites 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; however, lesions can develop anywhere on the body.

Food allergies can cause itching in dogs.

Food Allergy

This occurs when a dog is allergic (or excessively reactive or hypersensitive) to something in its 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 hypersensitivity or allergy or excessive reactivity 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


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

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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.7 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.