Causes of Dog Scratching

A scratching dog may display this behavior due to a number of medical causes. Detecting the cause will help with healing, and prevent any injuries or infections that may be caused by excessive scratching.

Airborne Allergens

A number of airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, mold or chemicals may cause allergies in dogs. The allergies will present symptoms such as irritated and itchy skin, so the dog will be scratching.

The dog needs to be tested to determine the exact allergen that causes the reaction, so a vaccine containing the right allergens can be prepared.

Antihistamines are only temporary solutions to dog allergies.

Poor nutrition may cause dry skin. Dry skin can also be caused by the use of an improper shampoo. Dry skin may be itchy, and the dog will try to relieve the itchiness by scratching. Talk to your vet about a more balanced nutrition and a gentle shampoo formula. Opt for a shampoo with natural extracts and the vet may also recommend some fatty acid supplements to restore the normal balance of the skin.

Itchy skin may also be caused by food allergies. If the dog is allergic to a certain ingredient of his daily food or to something he has eaten on one occasion, he will display rashes and other allergy symptoms. Food trials or skin testing will be performed to find out the source of allergies, and the dog's diet will be changed accordingly.

It's common for allergic dogs to have negative reactions to beef, corn, turkey and chicken.


Fleas, ticks or mites cause itchiness and dog scratching. These parasites are located on the dog's skin and the extreme itchiness may make the dog lick and scratch the affected area. Once identified, parasites are easily treatable with medication, shampoo, powders or sprays. Make sure to thoroughly clean your home and garden to get rid of all the parasite larvae or eggs that may be present.

Thyroid Problems

Thyroid problems or hormonal imbalance may cause scratching in dogs. If your vet cannot detect a cause for your dog's scratching behavior, he may also perform some blood tests to determine if there are any thyroid problems.


Infections with different fungi and bacteria may cause itchiness. Frequent infections include yeast infection or ringworm fungi.

These infections can be treated with antibiotics and topical ointments that contain steroids. These ointments are necessary to relieve the itchiness and reduce the swelling of the skin.


A stressed dog can scratch and lick himself excessively, to the point of causing bald patches. Find out the cause for stress and try to eliminate it. The dog also needs special affection from the owner, and the vet may also prescribe some anxiety drugs.

Dog scratching may point to a light allergic reaction or parasites, but may also be indicative of some more severe conditions such as thyroid problems or stress. Deal with your dog's scratching before he causes bald patches and other secondary infections.

Inform your vet about some other possible symptoms your dog might have, to make sure you get a proper diagnosis and treatment.