886 S Pine St, PO Box 277

Grantsburg, WI 54840

Phone: (715) 463-2536

1(800) 924-0588

140 Evergreen Square SW

Pine City, MN 55063

Phone: (320) 629-7474

Scratching That Itch: What You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Skin


Does your pet have an itch that they can’t seem to scratch? We see a lot of itchy dogs and cats that won’t stop licking and scratching this time of year. Pet parents often feel guilty if their pet seems tirelessly uncomfortable and when a pet excessively scratches and self-grooms, this can cause skin damage and infection.

If your kitty has extra dandruff, if your dog seems to scratch, scratch, and scratch some more, we have put together this article to help you better understand the underlying causes.

When should you bring your pet in for an exam? What is causing your pet’s skin discomfort? We have some answers for you.

Is Your Pet Just Itchy or Is There Something More Serious Going On?

It’s normal for a cat or dog to scratch a little from time to time. Some signs that it’s time to bring your pet by for us to see if there’s something deeper going on include:

  • Non-stop scratching
  • Butt scooting
  • Rubbing the face or ears
  • Chewing and biting skin and back
  • Licking or scratching until loss of fur, irritation, or scrapes
  • Flaking dry skin
  • Bald spots
  • Excessive licking of feet

What Can Cause a Pet’s Itchy Skin?

Creepy Crawlies and Parasites

Parasites are the most common cause of pet scratching, licking, and chewing. From fleas to ticks, and mites, don’t let bugs take a bite out of your beloved pet. 

The shock of being bitten by fleas often stresses a pet and causes mental distress. If your pet looks startled or cries out then scratches, she may have fleas.

If your pet seems to be targeting an area, you should check for a tick. Ticks can be tiny but are often visible to the naked eye. Grab your tweezers (or better yet, a tick lifter) and a magnifying glass and slowly get a good hold on the body of the tick close to its head and pull. Try to remove the entire tick - leaving behind part of the tick can cause future issues. If your dog or cat is on tick prevention, ticks will naturally die within about 24 hours after latching on, greatly reducing the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

As for mites, they are practically invisible. What do we mean by that? They’re microscopic. If your dog or cat has itchy ears, it could be mites.

We will happily work with you to find the right regimen for your pet’s pest protection.

Diet or Allergies

Some pets will feel itchy and chew their backs, legs, feet, and more to the point of bald patches due to a dietary allergy. Some pets also experience seasonal allergies and allergies from external factors. Did you know some dogs are even allergic to grass?

Pets can also be allergic to mold, dust, soaps, pollen, and other factors.

If your kitty has bald patches, she could be allergic to something in her diet as well.

Nervousness, Anxiety, or Boredom

These are more common than many pet parents realize. When a dog or cat is uncomfortable, bored, or stressed, they may compulsively lick and chew their feet and back. They can even develop a condition similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

If you think this maybe a problem, introduce some extra mental and physical stimulation to your pet’s routine. Puzzles, interactive toys, more walks, and some good old-fashioned play can help!

Dry Skin

Dry skin can be environmental or internal. Pets need fatty acids and a balanced diet for a healthy coat and skin. 

Pain or Discomfort

From splinters to a collar that’s too tight, your pet may be trying to seek some comfort from a thorn in their side, literally. If your pet is paying a lot of attention or chewing one area, give it a thorough exam to see if there’s something causing pain. Be sure to check for thorns, burrs, and splinters.

Pesticides and fertilizers can also cause a burning sensation. If you think this can be the case, immediately rinse your pet’s feet.

Some pets will also lick a paw or joint that’s sore from arthritis or from exercise.

What Can You Do to Help an Itchy Pet?

Rashes, scratching, and chewing for more than a day or so means it’s time to bring your pet by for an exam. Dermatological issues are notoriously difficult for pet parents to diagnose and treat on their own without the help of a vet.

Bringing your pet in for regular grooming can also help catch dermatological problems early on. Our groomers work alongside our veterinary team to help catch ear, skin, or coat problems.

We offer a wide range of services that can prevent the guessing game. From allergy tests to flea and tick prevention, we can calm that itchy skin and help bring your pet feel comfortable again, so make an appointment today.

Photo Credit: KruPichai

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