Stop Fido's Itching and Biting

Oh That Feels Good
Oh That Feels Good

What Causes Itchy Dog Skin?

Are there effective ways to end your pet's scratching and itching? You bet and we'll get into that in a bit but understand that these tips are temporary in nature. Usually, itchy skin is a symptom of some type of underlying condition and that's what has to be treated if you want something that resembles a permanent fix. So yes you can give the pooch some short term relief but you're going to have to look deeper to find the root cause of the problem.

Common causes of dog itchy skin include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Poor nutrition
  • Mange and mites
  • Fleas
  • Over bathing
  • Anxiety
  • Insect bites


Just like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to almost anything they come in contact with. If you notice that the itching comes on at the same time of year, year after year then it could simply be pollen. If the itching just comes on with no ready explanation then think about what’s new in the dog’s environment. Did you wash his bedding with a new detergent? Did you use a new shampoo the last time you gave him a bath? Was your carpet recently steamed clean? Did you put down fertilizer or weed killer on the lawn? 

Even wit this process there are no guarantees as the dog can develop an allergy to some substance that he's been exposed to all his life with no previous reaction.

Most allergies in dogs are inhalants meaning they have ingested a substance, like pollen, and are reacting to that. Topical allergies describes a reaction to the environment like flea bites, fertilizer and chemicals.  The third most prevalent type of allergy is to food and that can take upwards to 12 weeks to figure out just what Fido is allergic to.

Figuring out just what Fido is allergic to is a game of trial and error. There are vets who specialize in dog dermatology but they cost a fortune and the science is far from being perfect.  Knowing what humans are allergic to is a difficult task at best and figuring out what a dog is allergic to is even more difficult.


Mange is caused by mites and while there are tell tale signs, the only way to be sure it’s mange is to have a vet do a scrapping and testing it and even that process comes back with a false negative 60% of the time. Mites are microscopic so unlike fleas, what you are observing are the symptoms of mange and not the actual culprit. Mange, aside from being unsightly and horribly uncomfortable for the dog, can lead to other serious  problems like infections and needs to be treated as soon as it is suspected.

Fleas are pretty obvious because they are jumping off your dog and into your carpet.  Simply having fleas is bad enough but if your dog has an allergy to the flea bite it becomes even more unbearable for him.

Bath Time For Fido

Over bathing your dog is kind of misleading. It’s not the water that does the damage; it’s the shampoo that you may be using. Human shampoos and conditioners should not be used on your dog as they may strip away the natural skin oil that they need to prevent dry skin.  Even low end dog shampoos or medicated shampoos can have this same effect.   The number one mistake that most dog owners make is not rinsing the dog thoroughly enough to get rid of the chemicals in the shampoo.

Junk Food

If you are feeding your dog a discount dog food you want to check out the ingredients and see just what Fido is getting. Many low end dog foods are low in nutrition and high in filler. Ideally you want to see that there is a Vitamin E supplement and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (fish oil) which not only help stop the itching but aid the immune system as well. Compare the ingredients of your dog food with a premium brand like Iams and consider testing the higher priced food.  Good dog nutrition is one of the best ways to prevent itching as well as building up your dog's ability to fight off disease and infection.  Don't scrimp on his food.

Does Your Dog Need A Shrink?

Then there is scratching and biting that has nothing to do with an actual itch. Sometimes dogs will revert to this learned behavior when they are anxious. Think about it for a second.  When you get stressed out do you have some habit or tic that you constantly do?  Do your kids?

The same thing can apply to your pet and it can be biting or chewing or scratching.  Often times this is associated with separation anxiety but it can also be triggered by what the dog perceives as a traumatic event like say a trip to the vet.

Help Me Mom!

cure itchy dog kin
cure itchy dog kin

Natural Treatments For Itchy Dog Skin

For starters you can try to cure the itching from the inside out. Adding a tablespoon of olive oil to your dog’s food will provide the omega-3 fatty acid that he needs to create the natural oil in his skin. Vitamin E which is essential in building his immune system, is rarely found in lower end dog foods. Adding a vitamin E supplement to his food is a cheap way of maintaining his good health.

For treating the area directly, there is nothing more soothing than tea tree oil. Mix this with water ( about 50/50) and put it in a clean empty spray bottle and spray directly on the area affected. It’s cooling and relieves the itching almost immediately. Another plus for using tea tree oil is that it tastes horrible and will discourage the dog from biting the area. The downside is that it wears off after about 8 hours.

Oatmeal is another great itch stopper. You can buy commercial oatmeal shampoos but if you want to put a little work into it you can make your own. Take a cup of instant oatmeal (plain no fruit bits or artificial flavoring) and grind it into a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Mix that powder into a 2 cups of water and stir well. Fill the tub high enough so it will cover half the dog’s body when he gets in. Work the oatmeal shampoo into his coat and make sure the oatmeal is making contact with the skin. Remember this is not for cleaning the dog but rather treating his skin. Let it stand for 20 minutes. Thoroughly rinse your pet and pat dry with a towel. The oatmeal will take out the itch, cool the skin and actually calm the dog.

Once you have dog itchy skin under control, keep up a regular schedule of grooming. Combing the coat encourages the production and distribution of the dog’s natural oils and provides protection from future bouts of itchy skin.

Good grooming and good nutrition will go a long way in preventing an itching problem with your pup. There are inexpensive treatments that will work miracles on dog itchy skin. Your dog looks to you as his first responder when it comes to dog health problems and you owe it to him to know how to take care his ailments.

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Comments 2 comments

alet 6 years ago

Hi there I live in Africa Johannesburg my dog's name

is Charlie I have been to 4 different vet's to try

and sort out Charlie's itching problem - they are useless so I will try all the remedies on this page and hope that I will get the itching to stop

Rachel Willson profile image

Rachel Willson 6 years ago Author

Let us know what works for Charlie

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