It’s distressing to see your pets excessively scratching. Pruritus or most commonly known as itchy skin can cause your furry buddies to lose hair, develop a rash or break their skin. Itchy skin in pets can cause them to be irritable, weak and even in pain. As their caretakers, it is good to know the common causes of itchy skin in pets to avoid and treat them immediately.

Common Causes of Itchy Skin in Pets


This happens when your pets are exposed to allergens that their immune system recognises as a “foreign body”. It launches its defence to attack and repel it. Allergens can be something that is inhaled, eaten or anything that your pet is otherwise exposed to.

Three Major Categories of Allergies

Atopy (airborne allergies)

Similar to hay fever in people, Atopy or environmental allergy is the most common form. Dogs and cats can be allergic to almost anything, from pollens, tobacco smoke to dust mites, fungal spores, mite dander, the list goes on.

Contact Allergy

When in contact with a stimulant or an allergic substance, it can cause itchy skin in pets. Some common examples of allergens are grass, plants, chlorine in swimming pool water, etc. Typically, the feet, muzzle and under the belly are affected.

Food Allergy

Just like with humans, your pets can be allergic to certain foods. It is much less common than the first two allergies. Dogs and cats are often allergic to more than one thing, and they can get food allergies at any age. Food allergies are usually triggered by a hypersensitivity reaction to a protein that the body misidentifies as a threat.

Fleas, Mites And Other Bugs

There is a whole number of bugs that can cause itchy skin in pets. Fleas are a year-round problem in Australia but can be worse during the summer months. Flea bites can cause irritation to animals and humans, but a true flea allergy can cause a systemic bout of scratching and chewing.


There are different types of infections that can affect your fur babies. All of which can cause itchy skin. It is difficult to determine the right kind of infection as they may look similar to each other. To get the correct diagnosis, you need to consult your veterinarian. They may run some blood and smear tests.

Sores and Hot Spots

Acute Moist Dermatitis, more commonly known as Hot Spots are areas of inflamed and infected skin that can appear very quickly, especially in hot and wet weather. Dogs and cats with thick coats are most prone to this common skin condition. Causes may include allergies and parasites, but the common factor is an infection.

A hot spot can appear anywhere on the body: hind leg, feet, rump area, neck, etc. If you spot any red, sticky sores on your dog, get them seen by a vet before it worsens.

Although there are many preventive measures you can take at home and treatments that you can use for your pets when they have itchy skin, it is still best to take them to your vet to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Get more great reads about your fur buddies HERE.

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