August is Itchy Pet Awareness Month: Why Does My Dog Scratch So Much?

Why does my dog scratch so much?

August is Itchy Pet Awareness Month. A common question we get asked is, “Why does my dog scratch so much?” We will answer this question, as well as provide a few tips on how to prevent your dog from scratching so much.

Why Does My Dog Scratch So Much?

The following are just a few of the common reasons why your dog might be scratching:

  • External parasites (fleas and ticks)
  • Infections
  • Allergies
  • Skin disease
  • Skin cancer (less common)

External Parasites

Flea saliva is extremely allergenic. Therefore, a single flea can cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) that makes your dog itchy at the bite site. Common bite sites of fleas include around the head, anus, neck, tail base or groin area.

Similar to fleas, ticks seek blood to survive. That is why tick bites create inflammation at the point of entry. These bites can worsen the longer the tick remains attached and releases its saliva into the skin. Secondary bacterial infection can also occur at the tick bite site which will result in further irritation and scratching.

Tip: You can minimize your dog’s exposure to external parasites by limiting access to locations where a heavy burden of them may exist. This can include wooded areas, dog parks, daycare, kennels, etc. Flea preventatives are also essential.


Bacterial infection is the number one cause of skin infection in dogs. These infections can look like other skin conditions.

Fungal infections are another type of infection that can occur anywhere in the body, including the skin. Often times, a fungal infection looks like a bacterial or yeast infection.

Yeast are a normal inhabitant of the skin and ears in low numbers. However, they can occasionally overgrow and cause infection.

Tip: It’s essential to contact your veterinarian at All Pets to determine if the cause is indeed a bacterium, fungal or yeast infection. We can determine which type of infection your pet has and the most effective treatment options for that specific type.


Seasonal allergies mainly manifest with itchy skin in dogs. They tend to be most prevalent during spring, summer and fall. However, regions that undergo frequently warm and/or humid weather like Texas can have a year-round allergy season. Blooming plants and flowers, grasses, weeds and trees are common contributors to seasonal allergies.

Tip: Regular brushing and bathing can prevent seasonal allergies. In addition, air filtration systems and limited exposure to allergenic environments can help prevent or minimize the risk of allergic dermatitis.

While seasonal allergies are more common, nutritional allergies are another reason why your dog may be itching. Some dogs may be allergic to certain proteins (beef, dairy, chicken, etc.) and/or grains (wheat, corn, rice. etc.). There is numerous ways this allergic reaction may exhibit itself, including skin inflammation and itching.

Tip: Diagnosing food allergies in dogs can be difficult. Therefore, we recommend bringing your dog into All Pets for a visit. Our veterinarians can diagnose and determine the best treatment options for your pet.

Skin Disease

Skin diseases, such as hot spots and atopic dermatitis (atopy) are common in dogs.

Hot spots generally involve the development of sudden acute localized inflammation of the skin. Conversely, atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition in dogs that results from inhalant/contact allergies.

Tip: If you notice your dog has a hot spot or scratching a localized area, contact your veterinarian for treatment options.


These are just a few of the common reasons to answer the question, “Why does my dog scratch so much?” Contact us with the link below for more information, or to schedule an appointment with your vet at All Pets!

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