He Won’t Stop Itching! An Owner’s Guide to Itchy Skin in Dogs

Itchy skin can happen for a number of reasons in dogs ranging from flea bites, to allergies, to infections. As the skin’s normal reaction to most causes of itchy skin is to become pink/red, with or without a rash, it makes diagnosing the exact cause at home particularly difficult. Whilst we recommend consultation with one of our veterinarians, the following is some information about some of the most common causes of itching.


1) Treat for fleas

 Flea allergic dermatitis in dogsChristmas tree distribution of flea allergy dermatitis


2) Contact Allergy

           Contact allergy on ventrum   Contact allergy on muzzle


Wandering Jew

Reducing the likelihood of contact allergies recurring

There are some measures you can do to minimise contact allergies:
  1. If possible, remove access to the offending allergen.
  2. If exposure to the allergen is intermittent (e.g. on a favourite walk), barrier creams can be applied to the finely-haired skin on the tummy to provide an occlusive layer that prevents contact of the allergen with the skin. As some barrier creams can be toxic if ingested, it is important that this is only applied to dogs that will not lick it off. The barrier cream can then be wiped or washed off after walks.
  3. Covering sparsely haired areas on the tummy/groin with clothing may be possible for some dogs, either using dog-outfits or baby/children’s clothes. Please ensure that your pet will not overheat while wearing clothes, particularly in summer when heat-stroke can occur.


3) Infections with mites (Demodex and Sarcoptes spp.)

Demodex spp.


4) Bacterial and yeast infections


5) Ringworm infections

Wood's Lamp +ve


6) Food allergy


7) Atopy or “Environmental Allergy”

Intradermal skin testing


Does your dog have itchy skin?

If you are concerned that your dog has a skin condition, please book an appointment to see one of our veterinarians to assess. It is helpful to bring along the flea medications, any pet shampoos and oral medication that your pet is on. It will also be very helpful if you could bring along the brand and flavour of your dog's food and treats to the consultation - take a photo of the dog food packets/cans if this is easier. Do feel free to contact us at (06) 3588675 if your have any enquires about your dog's skin condition.


Published by Cahill Animal Hospital on 30 July 2016

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