Why is My Dog Itching and Scratching?

Given its size and status as the largest organ in the body, the skin significantly contributes to the high rate of allergies in dogs. This often leads to numerous visits to doctors and vets, a somewhat expected outcome taking into account its size.

There are many conditions that affect the skin of dogs, ranging from flea bites to skin cancer, but what is almost certainly the most important canine skin disease is atopic dermatitis.

Skin allergies are incredibly common in dogs, and whilst most cases are relatively mild and cause only minor irritation, dogs with allergies and dermatitis can cause significant long-term suffering to affected animals.

The Most Common Symptoms of Dog Allergies in the Skin

  • Itching (or Pruritus as it is known to vets)
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Fur loss and saliva staining
  • Foot chewing
  • And in long-standing cases, secondary symptoms such as the blackening and the thickening of the skin.

The Main Causes of Skin Allergies in Dogs

  • Atopy (allergies to things that are breathed in – dust, mites, pollen, etc.)
  • Food allergies
  • and Contact allergies, including flea, tick, and mite allergies.

Atopic allergies are the most common (in my experience, they account for at least 70% of cases of allergic dermatitis in dogs) and are caused by allergic reactions to inhaled allergens such as pollen from trees and grass, which tends to be around for a few weeks at a particular time of year.

Other inhaled allergens can be a problem all year round, such as mould spores, household dust mites, chemicals on furniture and carpets, indoor air fresheners and fabrics like wool and nylon.

The symptoms of dog allergies tend to be expressed in the skin, licking feet and generalised itching are the classic symptoms of a case of atopic allergy.

Related read: 7 Spring Hazards for Dogs


Atopy is more common in certain breeds, with small breed dogs such as West Highland Terriers being most commonly affected – although all breeds can suffer from this kind of allergy.


The next common cause of skin problems is dog allergies to food. Although these are much less common than many people think and there is much debate over their true prevalence.

There is a general consensus that dog allergies to food and ingredients such as wheat, beef and soya are responsible for a significant number of cases of skin allergies in dogs, but true skin allergies directly caused by food are actually quite uncommon.

Over 90% of dogs will be lactose intolerant by the age of 12 months so it’s best to avoid milk products.

If you think your dog has allergies to food that could be the problem then your first port of call is an elimination diet to find out which food it could be.

You may also read: How Itching and Scratching Can be Caused by Poor Nutrition

Contact Allergies, such as those caused by washing powders, grass and so on, are even less common than food allergies but do need to be considered in dogs which have unusual patterns of allergies, such as redness only on the belly that has appeared just after their bed has been washed for example.

The good news is that in most cases, the solution to itchy dog skin is simply a matter of ensuring your pet is getting the right nutritional balance, which includes treats too (not always easy with modern complete diets) coupled with effective parasite control.


For all-over improved skin and coat conditions, Yumega Plus is good for soothing itchy and sensitive skin and Resist! works well to reduce the symptoms of dog allergies and aid your dog’s recovery back to health.

Trace their food intake: How to Choose the Right Food for Your Dog

For treating specific parts of the body like paw chewing or sore underarms Ekoneem Oil is your best bet, simply rub onto the afflicted areas and let the oil work its magic. Also, use Ekoneem Organic Neem Oil Shampoo Bar while bathing your dog for continued results.

For getting rid of those unwelcome visitors namely: fleas, ticks and mites Billy No Mates Herbal Treatment is highly recommended by both us and our customers or if you prefer a liquid version there’s Billy No Mates Tincture.

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