My Dog’s Skin Is Red And Itchy: What Do I Do

It is very common and completely understandable for dog owners to become worried when their dog has developed red and itchy skin. Luckily, most of the time itchy skin in dogs is completely treatable when treated by a vet.


Most of the time red and itchy skin in dogs is caused by allergies. However, external parasites like fleas and mites can also cause excessive scratching in dogs, and skin infections or dermatitis can occasionally be the cause as well.


In this article we will be explaining all of the common causes for red and itchy skin in dogs. In addition to this, we will also be letting you know when you should see a vet about your dog’s red and itchy skin. Alright, let’s jump right into it!

Dog enjoying a satisfying scratch

5 Common Causes For Red And Itchy Skin In Dogs

There are about five common causes for red and itchy skin in dogs. These things range from conditions that are fairly easy to treat like allergies, pleas, and mange to some more difficult conditions like skin infections and dermatitis. Here are the five common reasons why dogs develop red and itchy skin.

Dog Allergies

Possibly the most common cause for red and itchy skin in our pets is allergies. This includes both environmental allergies and food allergies, and many dogs can suffer from both. Luckily, allergies in dogs are easily treated through a variety of vert treatments and allergy medications. Here are some other common signs that your dog’s itchy and red skin is caused by a food or environmental allergy.


  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Hives
  • Sneezing and discharge coming from the eyes
  • Itching around the eyes, ears, and face
  • Swelling around the eyes, ears, and mouth
  • Excessive grooming (licking)
  • Recurring ear infections
  • Hair loss
  • Hot spots


Some allergies in dogs are more severe than others, and sometimes an allergen can be difficult for you to keep from your dog. For example, a severe pollen allergy can appear to be much more serious than a minor allergy to a houseplant that can easily be removed. The good thing is that every form of allergy can be treated by a veterinarian.


Fleas can also cause a dog to have red, irritated, and itchy skin. Fleas on a dog can often be easily distinguished from other causes for red and itchy skin in dogs because they are often visible. This is especially true for dogs with short coats or hair loss due to a flea infection. Here are some of the other common signs of fleas in dogs besides red and itchy skin.


  • Skin sores and scabbing
  • Flea dirt on the skin and places where your dog commonly rests (beds, couches, etc)
  • Pale gums
  • Hair loss
  • Biting at the skin
  • Restless behavior due to being uncomfortable


Luckily, fleas are fairly easy to remove from dogs when treated by a vet. This is especially true of cases that have not yet developed into a severe infection. As a result, it is always best to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect that they have fleas. This will prevent them from getting a skin infection as a result of excessive scratching or becoming anemic due to blood loss.


Mange is a skin condition that is caused by mites that live on a dog’s skin. There are two types of mange in dogs: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange. Sarcoptic mange is also referred to as scabies, and it is caused by a parasitic mite that is highly contagious. Some common signs of this kind of mange along with itchy and red skin include:


  • Hair loss (usually in patches)
  • Thick crusts on the skin (usually yellow in color)
  • Skin infections
  • Thick skin (severe cases)
  • Lymph node inflammation (severe cases)
  • Extreme weight loss (very severe cases)


Although scabies in dogs can be very severe, it is pretty treatable by a vet. Like many other conditions in dogs, getting this condition treated as early as possible is preferable because it prevents your dog from developing complications due to a prolonged infection.


Demodectic mange is also called demodex, and it occurs when a dog has a weakened immune system. This is because the mite that causes this type of mange is naturally occurring on a dog’s skin, and it only becomes a problem when the dog’s immune system cannot handle them being on their skin. As a result, only young puppies and dogs with immune deficiencies tend to develop demodex.


Demodex will appear as red, scaly, and itchy skin. This can be in small spots or across a dog’s entire body. Like scabies, demodex can be treated fairly easily by a veterinarian, and it is always best to get it treated as soon as possible to prevent skin infections.

Skin Infections

There are two kinds of skin infections that can occur in dogs, and both of them can cause red and itchy skin. These are bacterial skin infections and yeast infections on the skin. As the name suggests, bacterial skin infections are caused by bacteria, and they are usually the result of bacteria infecting an open wound as a result of excessive scratching. Unfortunately, bacterial skin infections also cause the skin to itch and appear red and inflamed. Here are some of the other common symptoms of bacterial skin infections in dogs.


  • Very dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Pimples
  • Ringworm looking crusts on the skin


Most of the time bacterial skin infections are treated by a vet with a combination of oral antibiotics and a cream to help soothe and repair the skin. On the other hand, yeast infections on the skin are usually the result of a problem with the immune system. They can usually be kept at bay with topical treatments. However, dogs with extreme or recurring yeast infections may require oral medicine to get rid of the infection. Here are some of the summon signs of yeast infections on the skin.


  • Red, crusty, and thick skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Smelly, yellow discharge
  • Sores and scabbing
  • Chronic ear infections
  • A greasy and dull coat


Dermatitis is essentially the official condition for recurring red and itchy skin in dogs. Most of the time dermatitis is caused by a food or environmental allergy. However, it can also be caused by an allergy to the saliva of fleas. Dermatitis in dogs can be maintained by a veterinarian.