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Itchy skin in dogs

Dog on white background


Scratching is completely normal behaviour - all dogs scratch every now and again.

However, always contact your vet if your dog is itchier than normal, itchy skin causes a lot of discomfort and shouldn’t be ignored.

Fleas are a very common cause of itchy skin but there are lots of other causes.

Your vet will investigate what the cause is and provide a suitable treatment.

Signs of itchy skin in dogs

Some of the signs of being itchy include:

  • Scratching (more than 4-5 times a day and/or for more than a few seconds at a time)
  • Licking or nibbling themselves a lot
  • Red, sore skin, or a rash
  • Coat colour change - usually a brown or pink tinge due to saliva staining from licking (see picture)
  • Bald patches (alopecia) or a thin, patchy coat
  • Always scratching or licking the same part of their body
  • Pain when scratching (yelping or flinching).

Beware, some dogs scratch and lick in private! Keep an eye out for the symptoms listed above to make sure you spot any secret scratching.

Photo illustrating saliva staining on a white dog's paw

Saliva staining on a dog's paw

Why does my dog have itchy skin?

When to contact your vet

Itchy skin can be very uncomfortable so shouldn’t be ignored. Contact your vet if you notice any of the symptoms above.

Some conditions are very easy to treat, for example an infection or fleas.

Treating long-term conditions like allergies can be a bit more challenging and it can take a long time to start seeing progress. However, once you and your vet get on top of the problem you will notice a huge improvement in your dog’s wellbeing.

You know your dog best. If they don’t have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

Published: October 2018

PetWise Pet Health Hub – brought to you thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery 

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst