Why Is Your Dog Scratching?

List of reason why many dog scratch for their life

Excessive scratching biting and licking in dogs is a medical condition called pruritus [1]. Dogs experience pruritus at least once in their lives, meaning it’s a common issue that you should be prepared to handle. So, why does your dog scratch?

Dogs tend to scratch for several reasons. Some of the main reasons for excessive scratching in dogs include seasonal allergies, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, external parasite infestations, yeast, and bacterial infections, among other causes.

Want to know more about itchiness and what you can do to relieve your four-legged canine companion? Read on as we break down 6 reasons for scratching in dogs while also answering some frequently asked question.

6 Reasons For Scratching In Dogs

1. Food Allergies

Some dogs have sensitive stomachs that are highly susceptible to allergic reactions. In fact, you’ll find that majority of breeds are allergic to grains such as corn and wheat while others might have an allergic reaction after consuming chicken, dairy, or beef.

Dog owners are often advised to check on the primary ingredients when purchasing dog food to avoid triggering food allergies. As a result, it is advisable to change your pup’s diet gradually to allow enough time to notice potential allergens.

2. Seasonal Allergies

Skin allergy in dogs is often caused by environmental allergens such as mold, pollen, and dust. The good thing about seasonal allergies is that they occur specific times of the year, meaning you can prepare adequately for these nature-induced allergies. Spring and summer seasons when flowers and plants boom tends to lead to increased cases of seasonal allergies in pooches.

Therefore, if you notice your dog excessively scratching himself at specific times during the year, he might be dealing with a seasonal allergy. Try brushing and bathing him regularly. You might also want to minimize his exposure to an environment with allergens such as weeds, dust, molds, grasses, and flowers.

3. Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease caused by an allergic reaction either when a dog inhales or consumes allergens. The condition causes your canine companion to scratch bite, lick, and rub in specific areas including the tail. Commonly affected body parts are usually the feet, face, armpits, front legs and ears and uncontrolled dermatitis can lead to hair loss.

Your dog’s overall hygiene plays a crucial role in determining your dog’s health. You shouldn’t expose your dog to environments infested with insects and parasites.

It’s crucial to be on the lookout for microscopic insects like Sarcoptes and Demodex as these parasites will burrow through your dog’s itchy skin, consequently leading to bacterial infections. Mange can lead to skin-lesions in the groin, ear margins, armpits, and area with minimal hair.

Knowledge about the stimulation of scratching

4. External Parasite Infestations

Your dog’s overall hygiene plays a crucial role in determining his or her health. You shouldn’t expose your canine companion to environments infested with insects and parasites that can lead to tick bites and mange.

Did you know that a single flea can lead to Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) and leave your pup itchy? You’ll also need to check out for ticks since these parasites hunt for blood, and won’t stop until they lead to skin itching in dogs.

It’s crucial to be on the lookout for microscopic insects like Sarcoptes and Demodex as these parasites will burrow through your dog’s skin, consequently leading to bacterial infections. Mange can lead to skin-lesions in the groin, ear margins, armpits, and area with minimal hair.

5. Yeast Infections

Among the common causes of dogs scratching is fungi and bacteria found on dog’s skin. The infections tend to occur when the immune system is suppressed through skin infections and skin diseases caused by insect bites. These conditions will lead to persistent skin itching and require immediate medication.

Increased oil production levels on the dog’s skin can also lead to yeast infection. Moreover, dogs receiving treatment through immunosuppressive drugs like steroids might be victims of chronic infections. Breeds that are likely to develop infections include Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Australian Terrier, Chihuahua, Poodle, Shetland sheepdog, Dashung, and Maltese Terrier.

To diagnose this condition, you’ll need to take your pet to a veterinarian for an examination. The vet might conduct skin biopsy, skin scraping, or impression smear procedures to determine the cause of the infection.

6. Bacterial Infections

Dogs are highly prone to bacterial infections, especially when they interact with infected animals outdoors. There is a big likelihood that your dog will fall ill when he plays in an area with great infestation levels.

A bacterial infection will lead to excessive biting of the fur and skin, which consequently means the coat will be damaged. According to research conducted, the main factors leading to bacterial infection are pests such as mites, fleas, and ticks as well as interaction with already infected animals.

Consult a veterinarian when symptoms of bacterial infections such as scratching and biting persist. Your dog could use several medications to help reduce the itch.

Things that trigger scratching - quality of diets and dirt

Tips To Relieving Dog’s Itch

In case you’re wondering how to stop a dog from scratching, you’ll be glad to learn that there are several steps you can take to prevent itchy skin. Below are some of the ways you can address the dog’s itching problem.

Check On Your Dog’s Diet

When your dog is itchy after changing your diet, you have to visit the vet for some allergy testing to determine the cause of the itchy skin. Dog foods containing additives, chemical preservatives as well as wheat are some of the common causes of itching and can lead to a lot of discomfort for your pet. And since different breeds have varying needs in terms of diet, choosing the right dog food is integral to your pup’s well-being.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar

This home remedy can help in itch management at home. Combine 50% water and 50% vinegar and shake the mixture in a bottle. Proceed to spray it in the affected area. The sprays will do your dog much good as they help to reduce the itchiness and other underlying issues in the affected region.

Use Hypoallergenic Oils And Shampoos

A green tea or chamomile soak can help to soothe your stressed dog. Filling a bathtub with warm water and dropping 3-5 tea bags will be enough to spot treat your pet’s skin. Aloe Vera and coconut oil can also come in handy in preventing itchiness. You can also bathe your dog with hypoallergenic or oatmeal shampoo if you want to provide instant soothing and relieve his pain.

Five type of treatments to treats and relief itch - right soap product and avoid allergen

Treat Infections Immediately

As a dog owner, your role is to act fast when you notice your dog is excessively scratching a particular area such as the head (behind ears). Infections can make scratching worse, which is why you’ll need to prevent pest or bacteria-related infections. Always ensure you get the right dietary for yeast problems or bacterial infection to prevent them from spreading.

Avoid Allergens

Naturally, dogs tend to develop seasonal allergies during the warmer spring and summer months. As a result, it is advisable to manage your dog’s movements during such seasons. You can also avoid diet-related allergies by switching to fish-based foods that contain sweet potatoes. Dogs need nutrients like fish oil and essential fatty acids which promote skin health, improve digestion, and reduce inflammation. For instance, once you provide them with salmon based dog food, you’ll realize a significant reduction in cases of food allergy.

High risk - point of identification where attention is needed

When Should You Bring Your Dog To The Vet For Excessive Scratching?

Luckily, most of the common causes of dog itching are food allergy and seasonal allergy. With the right supplements and nutrition, you can reduce the impact of allergens such as trees, pollens, mold, and grass.

You should get concerned when signs of discomfort become extreme. That is, when your pet suffers from anxiety, stress, decreased appetite, develops black spots due to injury, and has a hard time going to bed.

In addition to behavior, feeding, and sleeping problems, ensure you consult vets when your dog scratches himself excessively as a way of soothing himself. Remember, these scratches can damage the skin and lead to serious skin conditions, so it’s best to take your pet to vets for several tests.

Depending on the examination and diagnosis, your veterinarian will make relevant suggestions on how to cure pruritus. Ensure that you inquire about the side effects associated with the treatment plan provided for skin diseases.

Prevention of the scratching process - drug dose; success of drug products

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you give a dog Benadryl to stop itching?

Yes, you can give a dog Benadryl to stop itching due to the drug’s antihistamine properties. Although not yet FDA-approved for use on pets, it is considered to be safe for dogs, which explains its popularity when treating swelling and itching. The drug neutralizes the effect of allergy triggers and environmental, seasonal, and food allergies. These antihistamines also help to treat itchiness caused by bug bites.

How much Benadryl should I give my dog for itching?

The amount of Benadryl you give to a dog for itching is usually one mg per pound of his or her body weight. As is with most antihistamines, you should administer the treatment two-three times a given day. To be on the safe side, be sure to inquire with your veterinarian before administering the treatment on your own.

How can you tell if a dog is itching too much?

You can tell that your dog is itching too much if he scratches, licks, and bites his skin repeatedly to the extent of discomfort. It’s not only dogs with itchy skin that’ll excessively scratch themselves, but yeast infections in addition to cases of interaction with flea-infested dogs can also lead to increased scratching, licking, and even biting of affected areas. When your dog can’t help but itch himself all the time, then something must be wrong.


Although itching is a natural response in dogs, you should be concerned when your dog excessively scratches and bites himself. Dogs that itch too much tend to suffer from underlying conditions such as skin infection, and you should visit the vet for a treatment plan to address the situation. Now that we have answered the all-important question ‘why do dogs scratch?’ The ball is in your court to take adequate measures to soothe your pet and prevent the condition from worsening.