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Itchy skin on a dog, commonly known as pruritus, is a sign of various medical conditions. This constant itching is painful for your dog and can lead to infections if he keeps scratching and licking. Such behaviors are one of dog owners’ most common causes of concern.
There are several reasons why your dog may be itchy, but veterinarians agree that the sooner you find out what’s causing it, the better. While scratching the occasional itch is normal for dogs, doing so regularly could indicate a medical condition that will worsen over time. Here’s everything you need to know.
The most frequent allergy symptom in dogs is itching of the skin in one location or all over the body. Pet allergies are similar to human allergies. Dogs can have allergies, but unlike people who may experience hay fever or asthma, dogs only experience skin rashes and itching due to their allergies. A reaction to food or medication can result in atopic dermatitis, a disorder that causes itchy skin. Environmental allergens like pollen, dust, or mold can also cause itching. Contact dermatitis, another condition that causes itching, can occur by coming into direct contact with something that triggers an allergic reaction. Consult your veterinarian immediately if your dog has hives, a swollen face, lips, or eyes, or is excessively panting. These might indicate a serious allergic reaction.
Fleas, mites, or ticks on their skin or ears may become extremely itchy, causing major skin issues and irritation. These parasites may potentially carry diseases that harm both humans and dogs. Fleas are these tiny, blood-sucking parasites that can torment your dog and infest your house before you even notice them. Due to their allergy to flea bites, many dogs scratch excessively, developing red, flaky skin, scabs, hot spots, and hair loss. Fleas can also lead to anemia and tapeworm.
Mites are a common health issue for dogs. They are parasites that can cause everything from dry skin to hair loss. Mites live in the fur and sometimes in the ears of dogs, making life difficult for them. Mites are also responsible for mange, a well-known skin condition in dogs. And while some mites are more contagious than others, all of them can cause severe skin reactions that are uncomfortable for your pet. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are extremely dangerous to dogs. Vaccines for most tick-borne diseases in dogs are unavailable and do not prevent dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, using a tick repellent on your dog is critical. Tick bites on dogs can be difficult to detect. Tick-borne disease symptoms may not appear for 7 to 21 days or longer after a tick bite, so if you suspect a tick has bitten your dog, keep an eye out for changes in behavior or appetite.
Dry skin can be caused by environmental factors such as cold weather and dry air, over-bathing, harsh soaps, and poor nutrition. If you suspect that your dog’s dry skin is caused by nutritional deficiencies, environmental conditions, or bathing habits, you should consult your veterinarian to rule out more severe conditions.
Skin infections can also cause itching. Bacterial infections can cause hot spots, causing your dog to scratch, lick, and bite at the affected skin area. Ringworm, a fungus instead of a parasite, appears on dogs as round hairless patches with pink, scaly sores. While ringworm does not typically cause itching, your dog may scratch at the area. Yeast infections in dogs are rare. A veterinarian can best diagnose all skin infections and prescribe the appropriate medication for the type of infection.
An itchy dog is an unhappy dog. Some dogs exhibit only one of these symptoms, while others exhibit several. Keeping track of your dog’s symptoms can assist your veterinarian in determining the cause of your dog’s dry skin.