If you've noticed your dog itching, scratching, and licking at themselves recently, this could be a sign that they have a skin condition known as dermatitis. Our Franklin vets discuss what might be causing the skin problems and how you can help treat them.
Most dogs will inevitably encounter itching at some point. Usually, it will cause varying degrees of annoyance for your dog but isn't a serious concern. However, some conditions do need to be seen by a vet and will require treatment to prevent them from becoming worse.
Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
There are several reasons your dog may start to scratch, lick or bite at their fur. Some of the more common ones include:
One of the most common sources of itching in dogs is being bitten by fleas and mites. Luckily, this is an easy problem to treat with medication prescribed by your vet to treat the issue and you can also proactively give your dog medication to avoid fleas, mites, or ticks in the first place.
This is skin irritation that develops because of contact with certain substances, such as grass, dirt, and particular plants. Symptoms include itchy/dry or cracked skin, rashes, blisters, redness, or swelling.
Some ways to alleviate this condition include antihistamines or oatmeal baths, though your vet may recommend a cortisone cream or other alternative depending on the severity.
This is a relatively uncommon issue for dogs; however, it is possible that they may have an allergic reaction to something in their food. Nutritional dermatitis usually causes skin irritations and scratching, but digestive issues may happen 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.
Some dogs are prone to allergies, making this a not uncommon reason that our vets see dogs for itchiness. Allergens that cause itching can be found in pollen, dander, plants, or insects, among other things.
Some of the symptoms of a potential skin allergy aside from itching include excessive grooming or licking, watery eyes and sneezing, rashes, and inflamed skin. Your vet may be able to diagnose what is causing the allergy and will recommend treatment and future preventive care strategies and/or treatments.
Another type of allergic reaction is hives. Hives can be a reaction to many things, from bites or 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.
If your dog's itching persists for more than a few days, you should make an appointment so your vet can diagnose the issue and treat it. Prolonged itching can encourage your dog to engage in excessive scratching and biting, which can result in a self-inflicted injury. This can become serious if left unchecked.