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Updated: Apr 25

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If you have a pup, chances are, you've seen them itching, scratching, gnawing and biting at the skin. Are they fleas? Is it an allergic itch, or is it a nervous habit? Well, all the above are all real reasons your dog may be irritated and itchy. Let's discuss the 4 most common reasons dog itch, the symptoms, and the most common remedies to relieve the scratching. 


I bet you already know this one. Yes, fleas are the top reason dogs have a constant irritating itch. Fleas are tiny parasites that feed on your dog’s blood, and both the bite and even the fleas saliva can create major irritation. A flea bite alone will cause itch, but the saliva from the flea can trigger a more intense itching as it enters the skin. Flea allergy dermatitis or (FAD) is a condition in which a dog’s system is hypersensitive to the fleas’ saliva. This will cause a more itch than just a flea bite. FAD can cause agitation, inflammation, itchy skin, and even fur loss.  


How does your dog get fleas? There are a handful of ways dogs get fleas, and it is extremely common. Dogs can get fleas while with other dogs, playing at the dog park or with any other animal interactions. Fleas are also known to “hitchhike,” which means they can be attached to shoes, socks or other items of clothing until they find their way into your home. They can come from the grass in your backyard, can jump on their target, or even come from other animals that are not pets.  

What You Can Do: 

Fortunately, we live in a time where dog flea medications and remedies are extremely effective and accessible. So, the best thing to do is to take your pup to the vet. They will determine the severity, and whether your dog’s itching problem is actually caused by fleas. The vet may prescribe oral medication or topical ointments. In most cases, your dog can see the vet once and you can simply keep refilling your prescription without a vet visit after that.  


Allergic itch in pups is exactly what the name suggests: it is an itch due to an allergic reaction and boy there are a lot of factors that can cause allergic itch.  


Allergic itch can come from, as mentioned above, an allergic reaction from flea saliva, food allergies, and atopy (environmental allergies from exposure from allergens).  

Allergens that cause allergic itch include: 

Dust and dust mites

Mold spores


Food ingredients

Cleaning products

Prescription drugs

Flea saliva   

What to Do:

Like everything else on our list, it would be necessary to consult with a vet to distinguish if your dog is indeed suffering from these allergens. They will have to determine if it a food allergies or environmental allergies. Food allergies are most likely determined by using elimination trial, which basically when a dog is fed a strictly hypoallergenic diet to see if the symptoms of itching improve. Blood tests are also used to determine food allergies. Environmental allergy tests are a bit more complicated and may require a veterinary dermatologist.  


We probably don’t address the skin of dogs as much as we should. But it’s hard when all you see is their fur. But just like us, your dog can get dry skin that causes itchiness. 


So, what exactly causes your dog to have dry skin? Just like most of the other items on our list, dry skin can have several causes. They range from innocuous to more severe.  

Some causes of dry skin include:



Parasites (such as mange) 

Fungal infection

Folliculitis (inflamed hair follicles) 

Other less serious causes can be excessive bathing or living in a dry climate.  

What You Can Do

For the most part, dry skin will be a symptom of a bigger problem. Again, it’s advised you talk with a veterinarian to determine your dog’s specific reason for itching, then they can properly provide a remedy. Unfortunately, you can't just rub lotion in the skin and call it good. But your vet will be able to determine the best solution. 


What is your nervous habit? Biting your nails, pacing, twiddling your thumbs? We all have nervous habits, and believe it when I tell you dogs have them, too. Itching and gnawing at the skin can definitely be a nervous tendency. 


Nervousness, general anxiety and separation anxiety are all causes of nervous itch. 

What You Can Do

Once you can confidently determine that your dog is not suffering from any of the above symptoms, you can treat the nervous itch. One of the best ways to do this is to eliminate what causes the anxiety. You’ll need to observe your dog closely to see what triggers anxiety. However, it might not always be easy to simply remove the trigger. For example, if your dog has separation anxiety, you can’t just stay by their side forever. Thankfully, there are remedies such as physical and mental stimulation. You can also use over the counter or prescribed medications to calm your dog. 

An itchy dog is an unhappy dog. It is important for the health and comfort of your pup to stay itch free. But we know it isn't always easy to treat itchy symptoms if you don’t know what the cause is. Use this blog post to determine if your dog is having the occasional itch, or needs some veterinarian aid. As always, please keep up with New Life K9s blog for great dog content

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