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Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

There are several reasons why your dog may be scratching and biting at their fur. But no matter the cause, you should seek veterinary care quickly to treat the condition and ease their discomfort. Here, our Rancho Cucamonga vets talk about the different types of dog skin problems and how our veterinary dermatology department can help.

Skin Problems Affecting Dogs

Typically, a dog scratching wouldn't raise any alarms. However, if the scratching and discomfort persist, you should take the time to schedule a visit with our veterinary dermatology team. A veterinarian will be able to determine the underlying cause of the itching and suggest treatments to help your dog feel better.

Signs of Skin Problems in Dogs

While itching and scratching are usually the most obvious signs that your dog has a skin issue, there may also be other symptoms, such as:

  • Inflammation
  • Redness or discoloration
  • Lesions or scabs
  • Scaly patches
  • Rashes
  • Dry or flaky skin
  • Bald patches
  • Swelling or lumps
  • Hot spots

Generally, the signs that your dog experiences will depend on the underlying issue. You should also know that many different skin problems can have fairly similar symptoms. This makes it incredibly important to bring your dog in for veterinary care to have their condition diagnosed. This allows for the proper treatment to help ease your furry friend's discomfort and avoid complications.

    Types of Skin Conditions & Their Causes

    There are many skin conditions that can affect dogs. Some of the most common are:

    Parasitic Infections

    Bites from mites and fleas are one of the most common sources of itching in our canine companions. But thankfully, they are also one of the easiest to treat. Your vet will be able to prescribe medication to help resolve the parasite issue. But you will need to conduct a thorough cleaning of your living space, especially the areas that your dog frequents.

    There are also preventive medications you can give your dog to avoid fleas, mites, or ticks in the first place.

    Environmental Dermatitis

    This kind of skin irritation develops in dogs from contact with certain substances like dirt, grass, or plants. Symptoms of this kind of skin irritation include dry and cracked skin, blisters, rashes, swelling, and redness.

    Suggested ways to alleviate this condition include antihistamines or oatmeal baths. Your vet may recommend a cortisone cream or other alternative depending on the severity.

    Nutritional Dermatitis

    While this is a relatively uncommon issue for dogs, it is possible that they may have an allergic reaction to something in their food. Typically, nutritional dermatitis results in skin irritations and scratching, but digestive issues may occur 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.

    If your dog has been diagnosed with nutritional dermatitis, your vet will be sure to recommend changing your dog's diet to remove the allergen.

    Skin Allergies

    Some dogs are prone to allergies, making this a somewhat common reason to visit the vet. Allergens that cause itching can include pollen, dander, plants, or insects, among other things.

    Some common symptoms of skin allergies, besides itching, include excessive grooming, licking, watery eyes, rashes, sneezing, and inflamed skin. The vet will diagnose the cause of the skin allergies and help to develop a treatment plan and preventive measures to avoid future reactions.


    Hives are another common allergic reaction that can affect dogs. Hives can be caused by many different things, from bites to 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.

    Dry Skin

    Many dogs will experience dry skin at least once in their lifetime. One of the easiest ways to check for dry skin is by physically looking for any scaly, patchy skin. If your dog has been scratching the area, they may also have red or inflamed skin.

    Some of the most common causes of dry skin in dogs include:


    If you live in an area that has a relatively low level of humidity, then your dog may have dry skin. This is likely more common during the colder, winter months when you have heat on in the house.


    Dry skin can also be caused by skin allergies. Products containing fragrances, like shampoos, are typically more likely to cause allergic reactions.


    Dogs that don't drink enough water throughout the day are susceptible to dehydration. This can have many effects like dry skin. Always make sure that your dog has access to clean drinking water, especially while you are out on walks or hikes.

    Dietary Issues

    While you want to make sure that your dog isn't eating an excess of fat in their diet, it should never be cut out entirely. A good balance of healthy fats can help with the production of oils that help to protect their skin and fur. Always be sure to check the ingredients listed on your dog's food to make sure that they are getting everything they need. Your vet can help make dietary recommendations if you need help.

    When is a skin condition an emergency?

    If you notice that your dog's itching persists for longer than a few days without relief, you should schedule an examination with your vet to have their condition diagnosed and treated. Prolonged itching and scratching may even grow so bad as to cause a self-inflicted injury.

    Veterinary Dermatology in Rancho Cucamonga

    At Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital, we are proud to offer a number of dog and cat dermatology services, including testing, diagnosis, and treatment for many different skin issues like the ones listed above. Using our in-house lab, we can determine the cause of your pet’s dermatological problem and provide a treatment plan geared to your pet's specific condition and needs. We are here to treat your dog or cat's skin issues, just as you would see a dermatologist for yours.

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    Is your dog showing signs of skin discomfort? Book an appointment at Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital in Rancho Cucamonga for a consultation with our pet dermatology department.

    New Patients Welcome

    Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Rancho Cucamonga companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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