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Possible Causes of Itchiness in Pets

March 1, 2024

Do you regularly notice your pet rubbing up against things? Does your furry friend adorably request you to scratch them and then behave like they’re in seventh heaven when you do? Itching is pretty annoying for both humans and animals. While the occasional itchy patch is natural, constant itching generally indicates a problem. Of course, before you can solve the issue, you’ll need to determine why your pet is itching. A local Brantford, ON veterinarian provides some insight on this below.

Why Do Pets Get Itchy?

Itchiness in pets can occur for a variety of reasons. Some are rather straightforward, and are pretty easy to recognize. For example, if you find flea dirt—or worse, actual moving fleas—in your four-legged buddy’s coat, you it’s probably safe to presume he or she has fleas. Other reasons, however, may be more difficult to resolve.

Here are the most widespread causes for itchiness in pets:


Allergies are unpleasant for both humans and pets. They can elicit a wide range of symptoms, including itching. Other indicators of a reaction include red, runny eyes, sneezing, snoring, skin irritation, and upset stomach.

As with humans, allergies in pets can be classified into several groups.

  • Seasonal Allergies are often associated with grass, pollen, and specific plants or leaves. 
  • Food Allergies occur when a pet’s body recognizes a specific type of food—typically a protein found in chicken or beef—as a ‘invader’ and responds accordingly. 

The difficult thing about food allergies is often determining the precise allergen. You might have to put your pet on a very simple diet until the symptoms subside, then begin reintroducing things one by one to determine what causes the reaction. This should only be done under the supervision of your Brantford, ON veterinarian.

  • Contact Dermatitis. As the name implies, contact dermatitis is a skin irritation induced by direct touch with a substance or material. It is frequently associated with red, inflammatory, and/or flaky skin. You may also experience hair loss, skin discoloration, and tiny pimples or pustules.

The list of likely culprits is rather long. Contact dermatitis can be caused by a variety of things, including shampoo; conditioner; mulch; soaps; materials, such as rugs, fabrics, and plastics; medications; plants; detergents; chemicals; fertilizers for lawns and gardens, and so on.

Contact dermatitis can cause considerable discomfort in pets. While home cures, such as an oatmeal soak, may be helpful in some circumstances, we strongly advise you to call your veterinarian immediately. This is not always a medical emergency, but there is a risk of infection if the problem persists. Plus, your four-legged pal will be suffering until they obtain relief!

Dry Skin 

Not all causes of itching in pets are complex medical conditions or allergies. Sometimes it’s simply dry skin! Environmental factors frequently come into play here. Winter’s dry air often results in dry, itchy skin for both humans and animals. Using the incorrect grooming products can also result in this. Pets have extremely sensitive skin.

Make sure your pet is well hydrated. A healthy diet is also vital here. Fatty acid-rich foods can help maintain your pet’s skin and coat healthy and nourished.


Parasites are not at the top of this list due to their popularity. They are actually one of the most common causes. Fleas are, of course, the primary culprits here. While tick bites do not often itch, some pets may react to tick saliva. Remember that fleas and ticks can both transmit deadly infections and carry other parasites. Keep up with your four-legged buddy’s preventative care!

We’re not quite done with parasites, though: mites can also cause itching. There are a few kinds of mites. Sarcoptic mites cause mange—also known as scabies—in dogs and cats. Unfortunately, humans can contract them. Next, there are Demodex mites, which burrow beneath the skin.  Ear mites, as you might expect, live in pets’ ear canals and cause severe irritation. You may notice that your pet keeps shaking their head.


Animals, like humans, can experience stress and anxiety. Your furry best friend may not be concerned about bills or office drama, but they can still get nervous about stuff. Major changes are a major source of worry for pets. Other possibilities include boredom, loneliness, discomfort, and conflict with other pets. Overgrooming is a frequent way for pets to cope with distress. This is comparable to obsessive behaviors in humans, such as nail biting or leg bouncing. Overgrooming in pets can cause hair loss, making them more prone to skin infections. Other pets, such as cats, respond by not grooming, which is also a problem.

If your Brantford, ON veterinarian clears your pet for medical reasons, stress could be to blame. Toys and playing are frequently the top recommendations. Medication and behavior change could also assist.

Fungal Infections

Next on the list are fungal infections. These take numerous forms, none of which are particularly pleasant. Dogs with skin folds or floppy ears are prone to yeast infections. Another probable cause is ringworm, a fungus. You may also notice a rash, crusty or scaly skin, redness, and, in some circumstances, an unpleasant odor.

Topical medicine can effectively treat a variety of fungal infections. This, of course, must be prescribed by your Brantford, ON veterinarian. Book an appointment right away. You’ll also need to be vigilant about cleaning and treatment to ensure that the problem is completely resolved.

Bacterial Infections 

Although each of these causes constitutes cause for concern, bacterial infections are among the most hazardous. These rarely go away on their own. They are generally caused by wounds or scratches that break the skin, and can cause peeling, swelling, inflammation, and pustules. Take your pet to the vet right away if you think they may have a bacterial infection. Treatment options vary, but may include topical medicine, antibiotics, and other products.

When Should I Begin Worrying About My Pet’s Itching?

Your pet can’t tell you when it’s time for them to go to the doctor, so it’s crucial to keep an eye out for indicators that there’s a bit more going on than the occasional random itch. Persistent itching is the most obvious indicator, but there are other signs to check for as well.

Here are some of the major ones:

  • Obsessively licking or biting a certain spot
  • Scratching/chewing themselves
  • Fur loss
  • Flea dirt
  • Rubbing against things (including you) 
  • Licking the feet
  • Discolored skin
  • Red skin
  • Lesions
  • Ear discharge or discolored wax
  • Shaking or pawing at the head, face, or ears
  • Flaking and Scabbing
  • Swelling
  • Pustules, pimples, lesions, or abscess

If you detect any of the following, contact your veterinarian right away.

How Can I Help My Itchy Pet?

There are many options, such as medication, antihistamines, steroids, antibiotics, and medicated shampoos. Your veterinarian may also recommend an oatmeal bath or a special oil, like coconut or olive oil. However, it’s critical to use the appropriate method. That is why we always recommend scheduling a visit with your veterinarian, to ensure a proper diagnosis.

Conclusion: A variety of factors can cause itching in pets, including parasites, allergies, and stress. While itching can be managed, it is critical to visit your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.

Has your pet been itchy recently? Do you have to schedule grooming? Contact your Brantford, ON veterinarian clinic now!

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