My Dog Is Constantly Scratching And Biting Himself
Constant scratching and biting is a sign of a very uncomfortable pup.
There is nothing worse than watching your dog struggle with itchy skin, as it seems they can’t find a moment of relief from their discomfort.
So what could cause a dog to scratch and bite at their skin constantly?
In this article we will discuss the most common causes of skin discomfort in our canine friends, and help you better understand why your dog is constantly scratching and biting themselves.
Understanding Scratching And Biting In Dogs
If you see a dog scratching or biting their skin, this often means they are extremely itchy.
It’s not as easy for our pups to relieve their itchy skin as it is for us, so they have to use the tools available to them.
While we understand the importance of gently scratching our irritated skin, our dogs can only rely on their nails and teeth to get the job done.
Their itch may be temporarily relieved with their teeth and nails, but this is a much more abrasive method for the skin.
This often causes a cycle of skin irritation, leading to constant discomfort and complications down the line.
Why Is My Dog Scratching And Biting Himself?
Now that you are aware of your dog’s scratching and biting being a sign of skin irritation, we can go into some of the most common causes of this behavior.
Ranging from crawling critters to long term skin disorders, many factors can lead to itchy skin in dogs.
Fleas & Ticks
Fleas and ticks are easily the most common cause of itchy skin in our canine friends.
These tiny critters exist everywhere in the world around our pups, quickly setting up shop on your pup if they are not on approved monthly prevention.
Not only can fleas and ticks cause extreme irritation with each bite, but even their movements across the body can make your pup’s skin crawl.
Dogs will scratch and bite at their skin in search of relief, often leading to even more skin irritation as a result.
Read our article on little black bugs on dogs to find out if your dog is suffering from fleas, ticks, mange or some other skin irritant.
If you think your dog may have fleas or ticks, we suggest combing through their fur for any evidence of these crawling critters.
You can of course search for the presence of the insects themselves, but even the presence of any flea dirt left behind.
If you do happen to find any ectoparasites on your dog’s skin, we suggest reaching out to your vet to get them started on an approved flea and tick medication.
Allergies are another common cause of scratching and biting in our canine companions.
Itching is one of the main symptoms of allergies in our furry friends, along with the presence of red and irritated skin.
Dogs can develop skin allergies from irritants in the environment, direct contact with irritants, and even the food they consume each day.
Dogs with canine allergies may also experience fur loss, dull coat, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, weight loss, and even GI upset.
If there is a certain allergen in your home that you think is causing your dog’s symptoms, you can act by immediately removing the allergen and monitoring your pup closely.
However, if you can’t get to the bottom of your dog’s potential allergy, we suggest reaching out to your veterinarian for guidance.
Your vet may either offer you advice on how to soothe their skin at home, or suggest having them seen for prescription allergy care.
If you have ever experienced an acute allergic reaction, you know just how uncomfortable they can be.
One of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs is intense itching, often being accompanied by localized swelling or hives.
These pups will typically go from being completely normal to experiencing distress, even frantically scratching their skin without relief.
If you think your dog may be experiencing an allergic reaction, we suggest having them seen by your veterinarian immediately.
Dry skin can lead to serious itching for the dogs in our life.
Dogs rely on natural oil production to keep their skin and coat healthy, but many factors can impede this process.
Dogs can develop dry skin as a result of frequent bathing, dehydration, poor nutrition, and even changes in the weather.
Once your pup’s skin begins to flake, you may often see them scratching and biting at any given chance.
If you notice a sudden case of dry skin in your pup, we suggest reaching out to your vet for any guidance on how to care for their skin at home.
Many cases of dry skin can be soothed with increased brushing or calming shampoo, but it’s always best to speak with your vet first.
The term mange refers to ectoparasites that live on the surface of a dog’s skin.
These mites will burrow into the hair follicles on a dog’s skin, causing a slew of irritating symptoms to follow.
Mange in dogs has been known to cause extreme itching, along with skin redness, fur loss, dandruff, and a dull coat.
If you think your dog may be suffering from a type of mange, we suggest having them seen by your veterinarian.
These mites cannot be seen with the naked eye, so they will need to have a skin scraping performed at your vet’s office.
Chronic Skin Conditions
Just like you and I, our dogs can suffer from chronic skin conditions.
These conditions can be anything from autoimmune related to secondary complications of systemic illness, but each of these possibilities can lead to itchy skin.
Some of these conditions can cause other skin complications as well, ranging from significant fur loss to sores on the skin.
If your pup is experiencing any strange symptoms of the skin, we suggest reaching out to your veterinarian for further guidance.
They can perform the necessary diagnostics to get to the bottom of their condition, as well as develop the best treatment plan moving forward.
Complications Of Scratching And Biting In Dogs
Though a dog’s scratching and biting at the skin may offer temporary relief from their discomfort, it can lead to significant complications down the line.
Each scratch or bite of the skin can cause trauma to the area, allowing bacteria to enter the compromised tissue.
Once this happens, a painful skin infection can develop.
Skin infections in dogs can be absolutely unbearable for our pups.
Not only will the infection cause the area to itch even more, but it will often become extremely painful as well.
These pups will bite and lick the area raw in search of relief, only further traumatizing their already painful skin.
These infections can range from localized hot spots to widespread infection, showing just how serious of a risk chronic scratching can be.
My Dog Is Always Scratching But Doesn’t Have Fleas
Fleas are one of the most common causes of itchy skin in our canine companions, but they are not the only factor to consider.
Many pet owners will search their pet’s fur for any trace of fleas, certain that these crawling critters must be the cause of their distress.
As you can see from our discussion above, many other conditions can cause skin irritation.
If your dog is always scratching but they do not have fleas, we always suggest reaching out to your veterinarian for assistance.
They can examine your pup for any signs of the conditions mentioned above, as well as determine the best treatment route to take going forward.
Though itchy skin in dogs can have an obvious cause at times, it’s not the case for all of our furry friends.
When To See The Vet For My Dog’s Itchy Skin
Itchy skin may seem like a minor issue for some, but it opens the door for painful skin infections down the line.
If you cannot get to the bottom of your dog’s skin irritation at home, we also suggest having your pup seen by a veterinarian.
Not only can some skin conditions be challenging to diagnose, but some irritating critters cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Itchy skin can be unbearable for our pups, so we never want them to experience discomfort any longer than necessary.
Scratching and biting at the skin is your dog’s way of telling you that they are uncomfortable.
Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can get to the bottom of your dog’s itchy skin in no time.
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! Read more about us here.