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Why Is My Puppy Itching? 5 Reasons Why It Happens

Puppies itch and scratch for many reasons: fleas, allergies, dry skin, skin infections, insect bites, or internal diseases. A bit of itching is normal, but contact your veterinarian if your dog scratches excessively.

Dog owners know all about itching and scratching, especially during the shedding periods. This is completely normal. 

Itching becomes a problem when puppies lick, scratch, and groom excessively. These symptoms can represent a skin condition or compulsive behavior, which can be harmful.

Itching can even get so severe that dogs yelp when they scratch.

If your puppy constantly itches, learn why and what you can do about it in this article.

Why Is My Puppy Itching?

There are many reasons why your puppy itches and scratches, the most common being fleas, allergies, insect bites, dermatitis, or internal diseases. Contact your veterinarian if your puppy scratches excessively.

Excessive itching and scratching are some of the most common behavioral issues and symptoms.

These symptoms have a wide range of causes:

  1. Parasites
  2. Allergies
  3. Insect bites
  4. Skin infections
  5. Internal diseases

When dogs get itchy, it can be all over. Look at their behavior to figure out where the problem is (for example, head shaking indicates itching in the ear area).

Excessive scratching and licking usually lead to hot spots: moist, irritated areas. These spots expand rapidly and can develop infections with bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. 

These skin infections usually intensify the itching, resulting in a vicious circle of itching.

1. Parasites

Puppy Itching due to Parasites

Parasites are the most common cause of itching in dogs. Fleas, ticks, or mange cause dogs to scratch and lick intensely. This is extremely disturbing for the affected dog.[1]

You will usually be able to see ticks and fleas with the naked eye. But, it’s important to check your pet’s fur carefully and ask your vet for help if needed.

Mange is caused by microscopic mites. These can’t be seen with the naked eye, but the lesions they cause on the skin are visible.

External parasite can cause the following symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Intense scratching
  • Self-mutilation, in some cases
  • Bleeding
  • Hot spots
  • The presence of fleas or ticks in dogs’ fur
  • The presence of flea feces (flea dirt)
  • Dry skin and crusts
  • Yelping

2. Allergies

Puppy Itching due to Allergies

Not all types of allergy manifest through generalized itching. The ones that cause itching are:

Contact Allergy

Almost all allergens (plants, synthetic fabrics) can trigger contact allergy in sensitive dogs. Allergic reactions cause itching that often occurs in hairless areas. 

Itching caused by contact allergy is localized in the contact area.[2]

Allergy to Flea Saliva

Allergy to flea saliva or flea allergy dermatitis is one of the most common allergies in dogs. Allergens from flea saliva enter dogs’ bodies when the flea feeds. 

Even a small number of fleas, sometimes only one, can trigger an allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions are often seen in the following areas:

  • Back
  • Base of the tail
  • Tail
  • Hind legs
  • Abdomen

Hot spots may appear following the itching. These skin areas often become infected with bacteria or fungi, causing additional itching (called a secondary infection).

Puppy Allergy to Flea Saliva

Food Allergy

It is one of the most common allergies in dogs and involves an allergic reaction to a food component. The trigger is usually food that has been given over a long period. Not all dogs are allergic to the food they consume.

Dogs come into contact with food allergens more than with any other allergen. Food allergens are large protein molecules that the immune system perceives as “enemies”. 

The most common food allergens are:[3]

  • Beef
  • Milk and milk products
  • Eggs
  • Chicken meat
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Soy

The following areas of the body are affected by allergic reactions to food:

  • Face, including the ears
  • Feet
  • Extremities
  • Abdomen
  • Inner thighs

In addition to itching, which can be intense, allergic reactions to food also cause the following symptoms:

  • Hot spots
  • Hair loss
  • Secondary skin infections
  • Bad odor
  • Dry skin and crusts
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Allergy to Certain Environmental Factors

Allergies to certain environmental factors such as mites, dust, pollen, or mold are usually seasonal. These allergens cause itching on the face, paws, extremities, abdomen, and inner thighs on contact or ingestion.

Regardless of the allergy type, always seek the advice of the veterinarian. They are able to make a correct diagnosis and initiate proper treatment.

3. Insect bites

Puppy Itching due to Insect bites

Insect bites can cause local itching. Insect saliva contains irritating substances that lead to a local reaction with the following symptoms:

  • Red bumps on the skin
  • Itching scratching
  • Secondary skin infections (rarely)
  • Hair loss (rarely)

These usually go away on their own in a few days. In some cases, due to excessive scratching, the bite site can become infected. If so, take your dog to the vet.

4. Skin infections

Puppy Itching due to Skin infections
Image Source

Skin infections are caused by bacteria, fungi, or yeast. They can be primary infections, or they can appear as a result of intense scratching or bathing.

  • Frequent bathing

Dogs with skin infections usually experience many symptoms:

  • Hot spots
  • Hairless areas
  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Sometimes they self-mutilate
  • Moist skin
  • The fur of white dogs can acquire a reddish color
  • Bad rancid smell
  • Yelping when scratching

Take your dog to the vet if it has one or more of these symptoms.

5. Internal Diseases

Cushing’s Disease
Image Source

Some internal diseases can also cause itchy skin in dogs:[4]

  • Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Autoimmune diseases

Itching occurs due to deficiencies in the skin’s protective layer, weakening of the immune system, and changes in the hair growth cycle.

In Cushing’s disease, the skin becomes thin and rigid due to an overproduction of cortisone, which can lead to itching.

These diseases are initially manifested by changes in the skin without itching. Later, secondary infections can appear that will cause even more intense itching.

Diagnosing and treating these diseases is not easy, and this is why a veterinary medical examination is needed to establish the cause that led to itching.

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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