Signs of Dog Skin Problems

According to a survey on dermatological issues, dog skin irritation is common and the leading reason for dogs visiting the vet(1). . Dog skin irritations can be very difficult to identify and pinpoint the root cause of. There are a plethora of underlying reasons why skin irritation in dogs may develop. Before trying to figure out the root cause, you need to identify the physical signs of irritation.

It is important to identify quickly and pay attention to the physical signs of dog skin issues as they could indicate an underlying health issue. Dog skin issues can escalate quickly and turn into a more serious infection that could result in medical intervention.

Signs of Dog Skin Problems

According to a survey on dermatological issues, dog skin irritation is common and the leading reason for dogs visiting the vet(1) . Dog skin irritations can be very difficult to identify and pinpoint the root cause of. There are a plethora of underlying reasons why skin irritation in dogs may develop. Before trying to figure out the root cause, you need to identify the physical signs of irritation.

It is important to identify quickly and pay attention to the physical signs of dog skin issues as they could indicate an underlying health issue. Dog skin issues can escalate quickly and turn into a more serious infection that could result in medical intervention.

Dog scratching from skin irritation
Dog scratching from skin irritation

Signs of Dog Skin Problems

According to a survey on dermatological issues, dog skin irritation is common and the leading reason for dogs visiting the vet(1). . Dog skin irritations can be very difficult to identify and pinpoint the root cause of. There are a plethora of underlying reasons why skin irritation in dogs may develop. Before trying to figure out the root cause, you need to identify the physical signs of irritation.

It is important to identify quickly and pay attention to the physical signs of dog skin issues as they could indicate an underlying health issue. Dog skin issues can escalate quickly and turn into a more serious infection that could result in medical intervention.

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What are the different kinds of dog skin problems?

Skin problems in dogs can come in various forms, including contact dermatitis, bacterial or fungal infections and parasite allergies. Finding the root cause of dog skin irritation can be a lengthy process. Itchy skin in dogs, which inevitably results in your dog scratching, can lead to numerous other issues like infections, hair loss and wounds. 

Skin problems in dogs can come in various forms, including contact dermatitis, bacterial or fungal infections and parasite allergies. Finding the root cause of dog skin irritation can be a lengthy process. Itchy skin in dogs, which inevitably results in your dog scratching, can lead to numerous other issues like infections, hair loss and wounds. 

Cause of Dog Skin Problems

Dog environmental allergies

Similar to people, your dog can develop skin issues because of allergens like grass, pollen or washing detergent.

Dog food allergies

Dogs can develop allergies to certain foods in their diet like dairy, wheat, a single type of protein and even vegetables.

Folliculitis

These types of dog skin issues appear when bacteria infects the hair follicles and makes them inflamed. It can also be caused by viruses, fungi or even ingrown hairs.

Ticks and fleas

Dog skin problems like this are preventable and treatable.  These parasites can cause skin irritation in dogs which results in them itching, chewing or licking their fur to relieve the sensation of the itchy, inflamed skin. 

Dogs with mange

Mange is a dog skin issue caused by mites. The most common type of mites that affects dogs is called Sarcoptic mange and is highly contagious. The mites usually prefer hairless skin so the areas that are usually affected first are inside the ears, armpits and on the belly.

The skin will become very itchy and sore and as the dog continues to scratch it can lead to secondary infections from open sores. Sarcoptic mange can be easy to treat with medication by use of topical creams. 

Dog dandruff or scruff


This dry skin condition can cause your dog's skin to be very itchy, leading them to lick, scratch or chew at their skin. This in turn can result in secondary infections.

Dog dandruff can be managed using special shampoos and topicals; however in some cases you might need to discuss specific food options or allergy tests.

Dog environmental allergies

Similar to people, your dog can develop skin issues because of allergens like grass, pollen or washing detergent.

Dog food allergies

Dogs can develop allergies to certain foods in their diet like dairy, wheat, a single type of protein and even vegetables.

Folliculitis

These types of dog skin issues appear when bacteria infects the hair follicles and makes them inflamed. It can also be caused by viruses, fungi or even ingrown hairs.

Ticks and fleas

Dog skin problems like this are preventable and treatable.  These parasites can cause skin irritation in dogs which results in them itching, chewing or licking their fur to relieve the sensation of the itchy, inflamed skin. 

Dogs with mange

Mange is a dog skin issue caused by mites. The most common type of mites that affects dogs is called Sarcoptic mange and is highly contagious. The mites usually prefer hairless skin so the areas that are usually affected first are inside the ears, armpits and on the belly.

The skin will become very itchy and sore and as the dog continues to scratch it can lead to secondary infections from open sores. Sarcoptic mange can be easy to treat with medication by use of topical creams. 

Dog dandruff or scruff


This dry skin condition can cause your dog's skin to be very itchy, leading them to lick, scratch or chew at their skin. This in turn can result in secondary infections.

Dog dandruff can be managed using special shampoos and topicals; however in some cases you might need to discuss specific food options or allergy tests.

Dog environmental allergies

Similar to people, your dog can develop skin issues because of allergens like grass, pollen or washing detergent.

Dog food allergies

Dogs can develop allergies to certain foods in their diet like dairy, wheat, a single type of protein and even vegetables.

Folliculitis

These types of dog skin issues appear when bacteria infects the hair follicles and makes them inflamed. It can also be caused by viruses, fungi or even ingrown hairs.

Ticks and fleas

Dog skin problems like this are preventable and treatable.  These parasites can cause skin irritation in dogs which results in them itching, chewing or licking their fur to relieve the sensation of the itchy, inflamed skin. 

Dogs with mange

Mange is a dog skin issue caused by mites. The most common type of mites that affects dogs is called Sarcoptic mange and is highly contagious. The mites usually prefer hairless skin so the areas that are usually affected first are inside the ears, armpits and on the belly.

The skin will become very itchy and sore and as the dog continues to scratch it can lead to secondary infections from open sores. Sarcoptic mange can be easy to treat with medication by use of topical creams. 

Dog dandruff or scruff


This dry skin condition can cause your dog's skin to be very itchy, leading them to lick, scratch or chew at their skin. This in turn can result in secondary infections.

Dog dandruff can be managed using special shampoos and topicals; however in some cases you might need to discuss specific food options or allergy tests.

Dog Skin Problems: The behavioral signs to look for! 

Dog Skin Problems: The behavioural signs to look for! 

Infographic on signs of skin irritation: excessive licking, itching or scratching, hair loss, rubbing on surfaces

Dog Skin Irritation: The Signs 

Dog Excessive Licking

1. Dog Excessive Licking

Excessive or obsessive licking can be a sign or result of dog skin issues like allergies or a condition. Often skin allergies in dogs can make their skin or paws feel itchy. Dogs licking can help soothe that feeling.

Licking can also be a sign of other issues like boredom, anxiety or pain, so it is important to look for symptoms in combination with each other.

A sign of dog excessive licking can be something called ‘brown feet’. This is caused saliva stains from the constant licking of the paws. Usually, this staining starts off as red and turns brown due to a yeast infection setting in.

Excessive or obsessive licking can be a sign or result of dog skin issues like allergies or a condition. Often skin allergies in dogs can make their skin or paws feel itchy. Dogs licking can help soothe that feeling. Licking can also be a sign of other issues like boredom, anxiety or pain, so it is important to look for symptoms in combination with each other.

A sign of dog excessive licking can be something called ‘brown feet’. This is caused saliva stains from the constant licking of the paws. Usually, this staining starts off as red and turns brown due to a yeast infection setting in.

2. Dog Itching/ Scratching

Excessive itching in dogs is the most common complaint from pet parents seeking veterinary advice.

Itching and scratching are common results of pruritus (itchy skin). It is often accompanied by red, inflamed skin or dry flakey skin depending on the type of dog skin irritation. Excessive itching and scratching can cause more extreme damage like hair loss, scabs and raw/bleeding skin.

If your dog scratches so much that they break the skin, this can increase the risk of infection as it allows dirt to get into the skin.

Excessive itching in dogs is the most common complaint from pet parents seeking veterinary advice.

Itching and scratching are common results of pruritus (itchy skin). It is often accompanied by red, inflamed skin or dry flakey skin depending on the type of dog skin irritation. Excessive itching and scratching can cause more extreme damage like hair loss, scabs and raw/bleeding skin.

If your dog scratches so much that they break the skin, this can increase the risk of infection as it allows dirt to get into the skin.

Dog Itching/Scratching
Dog Hair Loss

3. Dog Hair Loss

Dog hair loss can result from excessive licking and scratching.

Hair loss can also occur without excessive itching or scratching, and instead as a result of the underlying cause of the dog skin irritation.

Hair loss can happen at any location on the body, however the location can help you to determine what might be causing the irritation.

Dog skin allergies can cause fur loss in the location where your dog comes into contact with the irritation. For example, a grass allergy will make their feet itch first and will cause them to chew at feet which can result in brown feet and potentially fur loss.

Fur loss from a food allergy mostly starts at the belly, face and paws.

Dog hair loss can result from excessive licking and scratching. Hair loss can also occur without excessive itching or scratching, and instead as a result of the underlying cause of the dog skin irritation.

Hair loss can happen at any location on the body, however the location can help you to determine what might be causing the irritation.

Dog skin allergies can cause fur loss in the location where your dog comes into contact with the irritation. For example, a grass allergy will make their feet itch first and will cause them to chew at feet which can result in brown feet and potentially fur loss. Fur loss from a food allergy mostly starts at the belly, face and paws.

4. Rubbing on Surfaces

 Rubbing on surfaces is another way to relieve the sensation of itchiness that doesn’t require licking or itching.

Sometimes dogs rub on surfaces for reasons other than skin irritation like collar discomfort, if something smells good or marking territory. Therefore it is important to look for a combination of symptoms when trying to identify dog skin problems

 Rubbing on surfaces is another way to relieve the sensation of itchiness that doesn’t require licking or itching.

Sometimes dogs rub on surfaces for reasons other than skin irritation like collar discomfort, if something smells good or marking territory. Therefore it is important to look for a combination of symptoms when trying to identify dog skin problems

Rubbing on Surfaces

Keep your Dog Skin Healthy

There are many options available to help soothe the skin whilst you and your vet try to determine the root cause of the dog skin irritation. Sometimes the irritation can be constant or it can be situational or seasonal, meaning the right option is important to manage your dog's skin. The right treatment should offer relief for your pooch quickly.

Some treatments could be allergy medication, flea treatments, drugs to manage infection, medicated shampoos or a change in food. Some types of dog skin problems might be an ongoing issue and it is more about finding a way to manage the irritation rather than treat it.

 In a 2019 paper, researchers noted that CBD might help treat common skin symptoms like dryness and itching. Potentially, because CBD may have anti-inflammatory properties, it may also have the potential to reduce eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis symptoms.

There are many options available to help soothe the skin whilst you and your vet try to determine the root cause of the dog skin irritation. Sometimes the irritation can be constant or it can be situational or seasonal, meaning the right option is important to manage your dog's skin. The right treatment should offer relief for your pooch quickly.

Some treatments could be allergy medication, flea treatments, drugs to manage infection, medicated shampoos or a change in food. Some types of dog skin problems might be an ongoing issue and it is more about finding a way to manage the irritation rather than treat it.

 In a 2019 paper, researchers noted that CBD might help treat common skin symptoms like dryness and itching. Potentially, because CBD may have anti-inflammatory properties, it may also have the potential to reduce eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis symptoms.

Pet Parents Review

Review of Dog Owner who's dog suffers with skin irritation