Itchy english setter dog sitting outside on the grass and leaves.

An itchy dog is a miserable dog. If you have experienced your dog licking, scratching, and biting themselves, you know what we mean. At Brodie Animal Hospital, our team realizes that a miserable dog often means a miserable dog owner. We are here to help you with all of your dog skin problems. 

Causes of Dog Skin Problems

There are quite a few possible reasons for dog hair loss, for incessant itching, and for canine skin problems in general. Sometimes more than one factor is to blame. 

Common reasons that dogs experience skin trouble include:

  • Environmental allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Skin parasites including fleas and mites
  • Bacterial or yeast infection
  • Fungal infection (ringworm)
  • Contact irritation/dermatitis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Endocrine diseases (hypothyroidism, Cushings Syndrome)
  • Systemic infection or organ dysfunction

Many of these conditions can appear very similar, but it is important to determine the actual problem for them most success in treatment. 

Finding the Diagnosis

Not all skin conditions are curable, but most are manageable if we can find the underlying issue. 

When our veterinarians are presented with a pet experiencing licking, scratching, and biting themselves or other skin lesions, they will want to gather as much information as possible to aid in their diagnosis.

Diagnostics might include:

  • Physical examination:  A thorough examination and conversation about your pet can reveal important clues as to what is going on so that we can figure out the best treatment options for your dog.
  • Cytology: Obtaining samples from the skin and ears and examining them under the microscope helps to identify bacterial and fungal overgrowth that may be causing or contributing to skin problems.
  • Skin scraping: Skin parasites like demodectic or sarcoptic mange may be identified when deeper skin samples are taken
  • Culture: Obtaining and monitoring samples of bacteria and other skin organisms like fungus can allow us to identify and more effectively treat them. 
  • Additional diagnostics: Based on other findings and response to treatment, other diagnostics may be recommended for an individual patient. These could include things like blood testing, prescription diet trials for cats and dog food allergies, allergy testing, or skin biopsy.

Relief From Dog Skin Problems

There is no universal solution to all dog skin problems. Rather, working with your veterinary team to find out the cause and best solutions is usually the way to go. 

You can definitely do some things to help while you wait for your appointment, though! Be sure that all pets in your home are on a quality, vet-approved flea prevention. Even if fleas aren’t the problem, your dog doesn’t need any help being itchy.

A good bath with a hypoallergenic shampoo, paw soaks for irritated tootsies, and even antihistamines or fish oil (call us first to clear dose and safety!) can provide some relief. You might also consider trying to lower allergen levels in the home with a good deep clean and some HEPA filters. 

Dog skin problems can be caused by a lot of things, but that doesn’t make them any less miserable. We are here to work with you to find a good solution for your individual pet.