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Common Skin Problems in Dogs

If your dog is scratching, itching, or licking its skin excessively, it may be suffering from one of several common skin conditions. Our Pleasant Hill veterinarians discuss what's causing your dog's skin problems and how you can help.

Skin Conditions That Cause Itching & Irritability

Itching in your dog is usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if your dog is scratching excessively, frequently, or hard enough to irritate their skin, it's time to take them to the veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the source of the itching and recommend treatments to make your dog feel better.

    Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

    There are several dog skin problems that can cause your dog to scratch, lick or bite at their fur. Some of the more common ones include:

    Parasitic Bites

    One of the most common causes of itching in dogs is flea and mite bites, which are also one of the easiest to treat. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to treat the parasite problem, and you can clean your home thoroughly, especially areas where your dog spends time (such as their bed), to ensure there are no lingering parasites.

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

    Environmental Dermatitis

    This is a skin irritation that develops due to contact with certain substances, such as grass, dirt, and plants. Symptoms include itchy/dry or cracked skin, rashes, blisters, redness, or swelling.

    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

    Although this is a relatively uncommon problem in dogs, it is possible that they are allergic to something in their food. Nutritional dermatitis usually causes skin irritation and scratching, but it can also cause digestive problems like diarrhea or vomiting. It's best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog is exhibiting either type of symptom.

    If your dog is diagnosed as having nutritional dermatitis, your vet will most likely recommend changing up your dog's diet to remove any allergens from it. 

    Skin Allergies

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

    Excessive grooming or licking, watery eyes and sneezing, rashes, and inflamed skin are some of the other symptoms. Your veterinarian may be able to determine what is causing the allergy and will prescribe treatment as well as preventative measures.


    Another type of allergic reaction is hives. Hives can be a reaction to many things, from bites or medications. Symptoms show as a raised bump that would cause the dog's fur to stick out.

    Hives can occasionally cause swelling around the eyes. The condition is usually alleviated by using a hypoallergenic shampoo for dogs. Another option is to use a hydrating leave-in conditioner. Inquire with your veterinarian about what they recommend for your pet.

    Emergency Cases

    If your dog's itching lasts more than a few days, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so that he or she can diagnose and treat the problem. Excessive scratching and biting at the itch can result in a self-inflicted injury if left untreated. If left unchecked, this can become a serious problem.

    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 suffering from dermatitis? Book an appointment with our highly-skilled Pleasant Hill vets to discuss treatment options for your pup. 

    New Patients Welcome

    Diablo View Veterinary Medical Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinarians are passionate about the health of Pleasant Hill companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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