How Can I Stop My Dog From Itching?

In short, it depends on what is making your dog so itchy. Many skin conditions, some of them serious, can cause excess itching and scratching. It’s a good idea to get a veterinary examination for your canine companion to determine if any medical conditions exist or if treatment is needed. A full exam can be especially important if your pet has any skin redness, scabs, or sores, so keep an especially close eye for any of those symptoms.

What Makes Dogs Itch?

Three of the most common reasons for a healthy pet with normal skin to itch are: fleas, dry skin, or a coat in need of grooming.

How Can I Treat Fleas?

Purchase a flea comb and use it weekly to search for evidence of fleas. Fleas are great at hiding from you, and it is not at all uncommon for an owner to not notice a colony of fleas on their pet until the infestation is already severe. A flea comb will help you spot the problem early and jump ahead of the issue before it becomes a major complication for your dog. Comb thoroughly through your pet's coat, several times, running down to the skin from the shoulders to base of the tail, searching closely for fleas or flea dirt caught in the comb. Flea dirt will look like small black pepper specs, sometimes shaped like a comma.

Fleas may also be visible on your pet's abdomen, where the coat is usually thinner and easier to see through. See our section on flea control for additional information, or learn more about how to flea-proof your home and yard from these pesky pests.

How Can I Treat Dry Skin?

Another common cause of abnormal amounts of itching, dry skin is often accompanied by excess “dandruff" or skin flaking. To help, start by choosing a premium diet for your pet. Diet influences overall health, including skin and coat condition.

Some premium diets contain specific, balanced fatty acids ratios that will frequently improve skin condition and reduce dry skin. In some situations, your veterinarian may recommend additional supplementation with specific fatty acids found in fish oil and/or borage oil to help improve your pet's skin and coat health.

How Can I Better Groom?

A matty, oily, or uneven coat can also cause irritation and itching in your pet. To help with this, be sure to always use mild grooming products to preserve your pet’s skin health. Consider also using a skin and coat conditioner. Don't over-bathe, however, as this can cause significant skin dryness. In some cases, a shampoo that helps loosen excess skin flakes may be needed. Routine brushing and coat trims when appropriate may help as well.

Surprisingly, expect to notice more "dandruff" for a few days after grooming. Bathing and brushing often loosen surface skin flakes for a few days or until the excess flakes are completely brushed out of the coat and skin health is returned to normal.

Need More Information?

Feel free to contact your local veterinarian with any further questions or concerns you may have about your pet’s coat health, or look through our Ask a Vet library to search for the answers to any questions you may have.