12 Common Reasons Why Your Dog Is Scratching Himself

Many consultations in Barkibu refer to dogs scratching themselves, especially skin problems:

"My dog is scratching himself a lot lately. I gave him a bath and a de-flea treatment, but he is still scratching. He has injured himself. I don't see any fleas. I'm desperate".

Dog scratching

If your dog is scratching more than usual, it's important to know that this can be caused by many different reasons of internal or external origin. These are some of the most common reasons why your dog is scratching himself.

External Causes of Dog Scratching

In this case, the problem is similar to human dermatitis: skin inflammation, swelling and loss of hair. These symptoms can be provoked by:

1. Fungi

Fungi in dogs

We can see the dog has some areas without hair, usually with some scaling of the skin. Fungi are contagious both for other animals nd humans. Even if the injury goes away with treatment, it is important to do some check ups. The fungi may still be there and come back.

In some cases, the problem is solved with a topical ointment. This should always be prescribed by a vet.

2. Yeasts

Dog with yeasts

The major evidence of this type of infection are the skin lesions, itchy ears, loss of hair and a different smell in the affected areas. Yeasts may be caused by some kind of allergy: to pollen, dust, some food or fleas.

After the veterinary treatment, it is important that your dog is always clean and dry. If you give him a bath, blow his hair. Humidity favors this type of infection.

3. Mites

Mites are the reason of mange in dogs. Mange causes sky irritation, making the dog scratch himself non-stop. There will also be hair loss and scabs. Puppies and geriatric dogs can die from a poorly treated mange.

In these cases, the vet will probably prescribe some insecticide and antibiotics. Any attempt of home-remedy can be damaging to your dog's health.

4. Fleas

Dog with fleas

It's probably one of the most common reasons of dog scratching. Also, fleas carry lots of diseases and can be very harmful.

If you give your dog a de-flea treatment regularly, you will avoid this problem. There are lots of products on the market for this purpose. Ask your vet which is more suitable for your dog.

5. Ticks

Ticks feed on your dog's blood. Because they are connected to the blood system, they can transmit lots of diseases.

It is possible to extract a tick at home, but it is tricky. If you are not sure about how to do it properly, go to the vet. It is very common that the head gets stuck inside your dog's skin. This can cause future infections, some are deadly.

6. Bacteria

Bacteria can show after a skin infection. Usually stays in the upper-level layers, but if not treated, the infection can spread to deeper skin infection. Virus

7. Virus

A virus is a microorganism with an independent life. The most fearful one in dogs is Parvovirus. It is highly contagious and fatal.

8. Other external parasites

On top of fleas and ticks, there are other external parasites which may cause dog scratching. Leishmania is also an external parasite transmitted by a mosquito bite.

Leishmania causes itchy skin, hair loss, and injuries. The dog may recover with the right treatment and have a normal life, but there might be consequences.

9. Food allergies

Like us, dogs can be allergic to certain foods and this will be reflected in their skin. To be certain that a dog has a food allergy, we will eliminate certain foods during 1-2 weeks and observe if there are any changes.

10. Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin caused by certain substances common in the environment. It is a genetic disease that will accompany the dog his entire life. Apart from veterinary medication, you should follow certain behavior patterns with your dog.

Internal Causes of Dog Scratching

The skin is sick and it does not work properly.

11. Hormonal imbalance

Thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries or testicles. Any alteration of the glands that regulate fats, proteins or hormones may cause skin problems.

12. Bad cornification of the skin (seborrhoea)

Excessive scaling skin, like dandruff. It is usually caused by a bad diet or stress. Sometimes it can be solved with a specific shampoo or by avoiding stress conditions.

Tests Vets Run When Your Dog Is Scratching Himself

If your dog has a skin problem, you need to take him to the vet in order to obtain a diagnosis. The vet may use:

  • Study of hair. It offers some information on endocrine disorders, hair loss due to scratching, etc.
  • Skin prick test
  • Cytology
  • Biopsy. It helps to rule cancer cells out.
  • Bacteria and virus culture
  • Allergy tests
  • Hormonal tests
  • Blood tests
  • IgE levels. These levels indicate whether there is atopic dermatitis.

Please, if you have any questions, ask a vet