The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

6 Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Scratching

By Heather Burdo

Dog Scratching

An increase in your dog scratching himself could lead to automatically assuming “Oh no- he has fleas!” Before you head out to pick up some flea shampoo and clean your house in a frenzy, it’s important to know there are other common reasons your furry friend is scratching more than usual. Here are some of the top reasons to consider:

Bacterial Infection

The number one culprit of a skin infection in a dog is called pyoderma, which means bacterial infection. It’s easy to look at your dog’s skin and think it’s another condition, so it’s important to have your veterinarian determine the diagnosis. This infection isn’t contagious to humans but should be treated promptly.

Food Allergies

Much like humans, dogs can get food allergies. The common food allergens tend to be wheat, dairy, and beef. If this is the culprit, you may notice dry skin, excessive licking with the scratching, bald spots, vomiting, and diarrhea. Before cutting out any ingredients in your dog’s diet, make a trip to the veterinarian so they can guide you in the right direction.

Environmental Allergies in Dogs

Yup - It’s not just food you have to worry about when it comes to allergies. Environmental allergies may be wreaking havoc with your dog as well. Just like with potential food allergies, you’ll want to double check with the veterinarian. If your veterinarian does seem to think the culprit could be environmental allergies, he may recommend wiping your dog down with grooming wipes after walks to remove allergens, using a hypoallergenic shampoo for bath time, using supplements like omega-3s and biotin, and a medicated spray.

Fungal Infections

A fungal infection can appear anywhere in the body, as well as the skin. This type of infection can appear similar to a yeast or bacterial infection. If a fungal infection is present, early detection is key. Regular antibiotics aren’t effective when treating fungi. If this is what your dog has, you will want to wash your hands after each time you touch him as certain forms of fungi, like ringworm, are contagious.

Ear Mites

If your dog is constantly scratching at his ear, you may want to schedule a veterinarian appointment. Ear mites need to be treated with a medicated prescription that you will apply in your dog’s ear. While at the vet, a gentle, thorough cleaning of the ear may be necessary if there is a buildup of debris.


Hypothyroidism is more commonly found in dogs than cats. If a dog has hypothyroidism, he may experience foul smelling, itchy, and greasy fur that can become brittle and thin, usually starting at the tail. Hypothyroidism can occur after giving your dog medication for hyperthyroidism. The only way to tell if this is the case is a simple blood test.

With several causes for itchiness, it’s easy to misinterpret it as something else, leaving your dog to suffer even more. If you notice your dog itching more than usual, you should bring him to the vet to properly diagnose the issue - proper treatment will have your dog feeling better in no time.

While you can't predict when your pet is going to get sick or injured, you can protect yourself from expensive veterinary bills. Embrace Pet Insurance gives you the freedom to do what’s best for your pet without stressing over the cost. Easily personalize your coverage to fit your budget and your pet’s needs, then visit any vet for nose-to-tail coverage. Check out what the Embrace plan covers or compare pet insurance providers to learn more.

Mind if we pay your vet bills?

Connect with Us

Copyright 2005-2019

Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2019 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.  Wellness Rewards not available in Rhode Island.