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My Dog Won’t Stop Itching: 5 Reasons Why This Happens

The most common reasons that cause itching in dogs are flea infestation and flea allergy dermatitis. If your dog is itching like crazy but has no fleas, it could mean your pet has a skin infection, mange, dry skin, or allergies. In rare cases, internal diseases can also be the culprit. Contact the vet if your dog is itching and scratching non-stop.

Dogs scratch to get rid of insects, ticks, mites, dirt, and other irritating factors. If your dog has been scratching continuously for several days, something is wrong.

External parasites are the most common cause of constant itching in dogs, including fleas, ticks, or mites.

If your dog does not have fleas and still scratches like crazy, there can be other causes. Contact the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

In this article, you will learn the primary reasons why dogs won’t stop itching and scratching, what you can do about it, and more.

Why Won’t My Dog Stop Itching and Scratching?

There are many reasons why dogs won’t stop scratching, including external parasites, allergies, dry skin, skin infections, or internal diseases. Contact the veterinarian if your dog does not have fleas but scratches intensely.

Itching is an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes dogs scratch. It can be accompanied by pain, and it is possible for dogs to develop rashes, hot spots, or hives.

Itching can be generalized (over the whole body) or localized (ears, paws, the base of the tail, etc.).

It is one of the most common reasons dog owners take their pets to the vet. 

There are many causes and diseases that can cause itching in dogs:

  1. External parasites: fleas (especially), ticks, and mites
  2. Allergies: contact, food, flea saliva
  3. Dry skin
  4. Skin infections
  5. Internal diseases

1. External Parasites

Dog Ears with tick

The most common external parasites that infest dogs are fleas, ticks, and mites. They cause discomfort, skin irritation, anemia, and even death. Parasites can spread from infested dogs to your house, other pets, and even you.

It is important to talk to your veterinarian and apply antiparasitic remedies on your dog to prevent external parasites.


Several species of fleas infest dogs, and they all lead to the same symptoms (except sand fleas):

  • Generalized itching
  • Intense scratching
  • Yelping
  • Anemia in massive infestations (especially in puppies)
  • Red and irritated skin
  • Hair loss
  • The presence of fleas and their feces

If your dog scratches and bites itself frequently, check its fur for fleas or other external parasites. Apply antiparasitic products regularly to prevent infestation.


As in the case of fleas, several species of ticks can cause itch-related symptoms in dogs:

  • Localized itching
  • Yelping
  • The presence of ticks (they may resemble moles or skin tags)
  • Red and irritated skin

Unlike fleas, ticks do not cause intense itching. Sometimes, they don’t cause any itching at all. This happens because they release an anesthetic substance when biting.

Ticks are extremely harmful because they can transmit dangerous diseases such as Lyme disease. Apply anti-parasitic products regularly and inspect your pet for ticks every time you return from a walk.

Engorged Ticks


Several species of mites can cause generalized itching in dogs:

  • Sarcoptes scabiei (the mites that cause sarcoptic mange)
  • Cheyletiella spp. (predatory mites)
  • Trombicula autumnalis (harvest mites)

All these species cause intense itching and discomfort, but the most dangerous mites are Sarcoptes scabiei.

Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange is an extremely contagious disease that can be transmitted to humans.[1] Transmission is made through direct contact or from the environment.

Symptoms of sarcoptic mange include:[2]

  • Extreme itching and excessive scratching
  • Self-mutilation
  • Thickening of the skin due to excessive scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Redness and inflammation of the skin
  • Rash
  • Yellow crusts
  • Skin infections
  • Weight loss and emaciation
  • Death
Harvest mites

Harvest mites are usually found on the paws, belly, and head. Larvae bites can cause allergic reactions with severe itching, especially in sensitive dogs. 

Sometimes the itching persists for longer, even after the mites have been removed.

The mites are red-orange[2] and can easily be seen on dogs with white fur.

Predatory Mites

Itching caused by predatory mites can be very severe. The parasites typically live on dogs’ back, shoulders, and ears, often causing dandruff.[3]

2. Allergies

Puppy Itching due to Allergies

If your dog won’t stop itching and it doesn’t have fleas, it can be an allergy. Here are the types of allergies that can make dogs itch:

  • Contact allergies: dust, dirt, mites, plants, and irritating substances (e.g. shampoos)
  • Food allergies
  • Flea allergy dermatitis

There are many symptoms of allergies:

  • Intense itching
  • Excessive scratching
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Hot spots
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin and crusts
  • Skin infections

If you assume it is a food allergy, it is recommended to change your dog’s diet to a hypoallergenic one. If the itching does not resolve, talk to the veterinarian. 

3. Dry Skin

Dry skin on dogs

Dry skin in dogs occurs for a variety of reasons, the most common being cold and dry weather, allergies, improper diet, and frequent bathing.

The symptoms of dry skin in dogs depend on the cause. 

Here’s what you can do to prevent dry skin in your four-legged friend:[4]

  • Use hypoallergenic shampoos if you know your dog has sensitive skin
  • Use humidifiers
  • Reduce the frequency of bathing
  • Use veterinary moisturizers
  • Give your dog fur and skin supplements (e.g. fish oil or omega-3 supplements)
  • Treat the primary cause: allergy, skin infection, etc.

4. Skin Infections

Skin Infections dog's tail

Skin infections are caused by the following pathogens: bacteria, fungi, or yeasts.

Infections caused by fungi are rare, and the most frequently found fungi (in fungal culture media) are those of the species Microsporum canis and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.

Infections, in general, occur most often in dogs with a low immune system or those with poor hygiene.

As for bacterial skin infections, inoculation with bacteria is also done when dogs scratch excessively (they have bacteria and dirt under their nails). This is why bacterial infections often appear after other conditions that cause itching (allergies, external parasites, etc.).

Symptoms of skin infections include the following:

  • Itching
  • Excessive scratching, which can lead to self-mutilation
  • Crusts and scales
  • Wet areas
  • Hairless areas
  • Bad smell
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Contact the vet if your dog scratches continuously, it has a repulsive smell, loses hair, or shows other symptoms.

5. Internal Diseases

Cushing’s Disease
Image Source

Several internal diseases can cause generalized itching:

  • Kidney, liver, or pancreatic diseases[5]
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)
  • Autoimmune diseases: pemphigus, lupus erythematosus

These diseases can lead to other issues:

  • Generalized itching
  • Hair fall (randomly or in a specific pattern)
  • Red areas
  • Crusts and scales
  • Dandruff
About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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