4 More Causes of Itching Skin, and 1 New Medication That May Help

bassett-1113739__340As we discussed in the last blog post, winter conditions are common irritants of a dog’s skin, so all that itching, scratching, and licking you’re hearing this time of year may be caused by the lack of humidity and cold air. But we also looked into how food allergies can cause itching and scratching, and that this is a good time to identify and eliminate dietary causes of skin discomfort.

In this blog post, let’s look at a few other common causes of itchy skin conditions for our dogs, and one new medication that may help. Because when a dog is persistently scratching, licking, or gnawing his skin to the point of developing a red, irritated hot spot, or a sore, the underlying cause of the itch needs to be addressed.

Aside from dry skin and food allergies, consider if your dog may be suffering from any of the following causes of skin discomfort.

Other allergies

Some dogs may develop an irritated skin condition called contact dermatitis when they’re exposed to substances like pesticides or soap that they’re allergic to. And dogs are also susceptible to some of the same environmental allergens that humans are, such as mold and pollen.


A dog may develop the habit of itching or licking as a coping mechanism if he’s stressed or bored. Whether from separation anxiety or not getting enough daily activity, compulsive licking and scratching can damage the skin, which in turn increases the dog’s stress or anxiety.


Fleas, ticks, and mites are often the most common cause for scratching, chewing, or licking behaviors. Don’t assume your dog isn’t suffering from parasites just because you can’t see them. Ticks may be difficult to find under a dog’s fur, fleas are hard to detect until there’s evidence of flea dirt or an infestation, and mites are microscopic insects that chew their way into the layers of a dog’s skin..

Even though it’s winter it doesn’t mean parasites aren’t around. They may have found a cozy warm place in your house or on your pet to survive the cold spells. This is yet another reason that it’s a good idea to use a flea and tick prevention product year round, especially given our comparatively mild East Tennessee winters.


There are certain medical conditions that can cause bald spots or a skin infection, such as hormonal imbalances with the thyroid. Incessant licking or chewing may also be a dog’s way of trying to soothe the discomfort from orthopedic issues, such as arthritis or hip problems.

New Treatment Option

If your dog seems uncomfortable from too much itching and scratching, talk to your vet about possible underlying causes, and take heart that there are a number of treatment options. For example, a relatively new drug called Apoquel has been shown to decrease itching, whether the cause is environmental, allergies, or other. Apoquel is a unique medication that specifically blocks the chemicals that trigger itch and inflammation, and is safe for dogs over the age of 1.

Dr. Sam Meisler, DVM and founder of PetWellClinic, says, “Apoquel even works on food allergies to decrease itching. It is quite remarkable. And if it is successful, you will usually know within the first few days.”

Examining skin conditions is one of the main well-care services provided by the vets at PetWellClinic®. By operating convenient hours for non-surgical care, PetWellClinic® is able to offer substantially discounted prices for the treatment of minor issues such as skin conditions, including affordable prices for medications such as Apoquel and safe flea and tick preventative products. We also offer low-cost vaccinations and wellness exams — with quick in-and-out service during convenient evening and weekend hours with no appointment necessary.

PetWellClinic® has three locations: 10549 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922; 7329 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919; and 228 S. Calderwood Street, Alcoa,TN 37701. Learn more about how PetWellClinic® can exceed your expectations for affordable, top quality pet care by visiting our website at www.petwellclinic.com.


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