A little dog scratching itself

Dog skin problems are one of the most common complaints that bring dog owners to the veterinarian. Incessant scratching and chewing around the clock makes a dog’s life miserable. Skin problems in dogs are often exhibited in one of the 5 following forms.

Skin Itchiness

Itchy skin, also known as pruritis, is one of the most common dog skin problems. According to Pet MD, 40% of all dogs that visit a pet for skin problems have to do with excessive itching. When a dog itches persistently, the dog can keep himself and his owner from sleeping at night. Those with itchy dogs can relate to the sound of a dog scratching his leg in the middle of the night. As a secondary effect of the itching, dogs can develop skin lesions, infections and hair loss, due to their teeth and nails contacting their skin excessively.


Often the cause of skin itchiness, allergies are a dog skin problem that are generally caused by fleas, their food or their environment. Dogs that have a true flea allergy are highly sensitive. In cases like these, it only takes one bite to trigger a serious reaction of scratching and chewing. Fleas become a challenging situation to deal with, as both the pets and the household needs to be treated. However, once the fleas are under control, the dog finds relief from the itchiness.

Another cause of skin problems in dogs happens due to environmental allergens. Allergens such as pollen or dander from mites can be inhaled, whereas grass allergens are absorbed through the dog’s skin. Known as atopy, these environmental allergens can be challenging to keep under control. To find relief for your dog, you may need to visit your veterinarian to get him or her regular allergy shots.

Skin problems in dogs can also be caused due to food allergies. Although this is a less common situation, food allergies in dogs are triggered by a reaction to a protein in the food, which the body sees as a threat. The only way to know if your dog’s food is causing a dog skin problem is to follow a strict elimination diet. This can be done through the help of your veterinarian. After the allergen has been identified, the dog can be given food that doesn’t contain this particular allergic trigger.

Sores and Hot Spots

Dogs with skin problems sometimes suffer from sores and hot spots. External parasites such as mites and fleas as well as primary bacterial infections can cause these. Also known as moist dermatitis, hot spots can spread very quickly. Should you see any red, sticky sores on your dog’s skin, it is a good idea to take him or her in for an evaluation before it gets worse.

Hair Loss

Dogs losing hair are often sad to look at. It can be caused by a variety of things, including demodex mites, thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease and an adrenal disorder. To be sure of what is causing hair loss on a dog, a veterinarian should be the one to decide. A skin scraping may be done to examine the skin cells underneath a microscope.

Dull Coat

Is your dog’s coat dry, or less than lackluster? If this is the case, he or she may need supplementation in their diet. For example, the appearance of a dog’s coat may improve through diets or supplements that contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, found naturally in fish oils. These fatty acids play an important role in reducing inflammation in the body. Omega-6 works to maintain the integrity of your dog’s skin barrier, as it reduces the amount of water lost an increases the strength of skin cells. Linoleic acid must be acquired from food sources as it cannot be synthesized on its own.

With the help of your veterinarian, your dog’s skin can get back into proper shape, and dryness and itching will hopefully be a thing of the past.