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Dog Skin Problems: Scratching, Itching & Other Skin Conditions

There are a variety of reasons why your dog may begin scratching excessively. Whether it's caused by allergies, infection or a parasite, it's important to have them treated quickly to avoid further complications and infection. Today, our Mandeville vets discuss skin problems in dogs and the reasons why they may be scratching and itching.

Your Dog's Skin: Why They May Be Scratching

There is a wide range of skin conditions dogs can develop, such as scabs, rashes, and red bumps. Our canine companions can develop skin conditions for different reasons, such as external parasites and allergens. In many cases, mild skin problems can be treated at home, whereas more serious issues require veterinary care.

Here, our veterinary team in Mandeville lists some of the most common skin problems in dogs and explains how they can be treated.

Common Skin Conditions in Dogs That Cause Scratching & Itching


While rashes can appear anywhere on a dog's skin, they are most common on the belly and can occur for many reasons, such as insect bites, and contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is a reaction to something your dog came into contact with, such as fertilizer, lawn chemicals, or poison ivy.

If your dog's rash is caused by contact dermatitis, quickly give them a bath, to remove any remaining traces of the irritant.

Is the rash the result of an insect bite? If it isn't bothering your dog, the rash should go away on its own. But, if the bite is irritating your dog or if the rash is caused by an allergen, bathe your dog in cool water and use a colloidal oatmeal shampoo. 

Redness/Irritated Skin

Redness and irritation, in combination with itching, are the most common symptoms of allergies in dogs. The best way to treat this issue is to determine the source of the allergy, which could be a certain food, something in your pup's environment, or even fleas.

While your vet is working with you to determine the source of the allergy and a treatment plan, you can help alleviate your dog's symptoms by bathing them with an oatmeal shampoo or giving them an oatmeal bath.


Crusting of the skin or 'scabs' could either be the main problem or the result of a pimple (pustule) that has popped and crusted over. Causes of scabs can include ectoparasites (mites and fleas), puppy impetigo, or pyoderma, which is a skin infection that affects dog breeds with wrinkly skin.

The treatments your vet uses to treat your dog's scabs will depend on the underlying cause of their condition and could include antiparasitic medication, oral antibiotics, medicated shampoos, or ointments. 


Small bumps on your dog's skin that are crusted may be caused by a fungal or bacterial skin infection known as 'folliculitis'. Your vet will most likely treat this with antibiotics and an ointment or medicated shampoo.

If your dog's bumps are large, flat, and don't have any crusting they could have hives caused by an allergic reaction. These hives are generally treated with steroids or/and antihistamines. However, while hives aren't usually life-threatening, swelling caused by an allergic reaction could restrict your dog's airway, making it imperative to call your vet immediately.

Hot Spots

Hot spots are hot, moist areas on a dog's skin that often develop in the summer as the result of excessive chewing or licking of the area. This licking introduces bacteria to the irritated area which makes the spot hot. These hot spots often occur after a dog has been swimming or outside on a hot day, they can also be seen in dogs that have dense undercoats.

If your pup's hotspot is uncomplicated, it can be treated by cleaning the area with a diluted chlorhexidine solution or by simply clipping the fur to let the skin breathe.

You can help prevent hotspots by keeping your pup well-groomed and drying them after they have been out in the rain or swimming.


If your dog has developed sores on their skin, but there isn't an obvious cause or they aren't healing properly, they could be caused by cancer or another underlying health condition that is preventing normal healing. It is essential to keep the sores clean and to contact your veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed that your dog seems to be excessively scratching? Contact our vets in Mandeville today to book a visit for your canine companion to be examined.

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At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our veterinary team is passionate about the health and well-being of companion animals in Mandeville. Book your first appointment today.

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