How to Help an Itching Dog


Your dog may be itching excessively due to allergies, parasites, dry skin or anxiety. In addition, to seeing your dog scratch, lick or chew at the itchy parts of his body, you may see red skin, scabs or sores, runny eyes or sneezing.


  • Contact your veterinarian to determine the cause of the itching and the best way to help your dog.

Stopping Itching From Allergies

Your dog may experience allergies from food, pollen or mold in the air or skin contact with an irritant such as pesticides or soap. Any breed may develop allergies, but retrievers, terriers, setters and flat-nosed breeds are most prone.

You can help treat your dog's allergies by minimizing or eliminating contact with substance triggering the reaction, cleaning your pet's bedding weekly and giving weekly baths. Ask your vet which shampoo is best for your dog as some may cause dry skin, making the itching worse.

Depending on the cause and severity of the allergy, your vet may prescribe:

  • Allergy shots
  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl
  • Fatty acid supplements
  • Cortisone

If your dog is allergic to food, you will need to work with your vet to determine which ingredient is causing the reaction. You may need to buy special formulas and check the ingredients on all food and treats that you provide your dog to make sure the allergen is removed from his diet.

Stopping Itching From Parasites

Parasites, including worms, ticks, fleas and mites, may cause your dog to itch. After your veterinarian has diagnosed the type of parasite, she will prescribe the best medication to get rid of it and stop your dog's itching.

If itching is caused by worms, your vet will administer a deworming medication. Fleas can cause itching in dogs, but some dogs are allergic to flea saliva, making itching extreme. You can prevent fleas and ticks by using regular preventive medications including topical formulas, sprays and flea and tick collars. If your dog does get fleas, your vet can prescribe stronger dips, shampoos or topical medication to kill the fleas.

Mites on your dogs skin can cause an itchy condition called mange. Treatment options include an anti-parasitic injection or oral medication or an anti-parasitic dip or shampoo. These treatments may be toxic, so follow your veterinarians instructions and do not overapply.

Stopping the Itch

Infections in the skin may develop as a secondary condition to scratching due to other causes or may be a primary condition due to decreased thyroid hormones or too much cortisol. Dry skin also may cause itching and may be the result of a dietary deficiency or weather conditions. Infections are treated with antibiotic medication. Steroids may be used to help control the itching while your dog recovers. If the cause is a hormone imbalance, additional testing and treatment may be necessary to correct the problem.

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