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Every dog loves a scratch, yes? Dogs itch, but when is a good scratch actually a bad scratch? Sometimes scratching belies a deeper problem that needs proper attention. Here’s what to look out for to prevent your furry friend from any skin-related stress.

Excessive scratching

Given your wet-nosed pal’s tendency to claw away at his coat, it’s easy to overlook the odd scratch, but you know your dog best. Observe how long they spend scratching and where on their body seems to be irritating them. Is it one place specifically? Is it causing them stress? Are they super focused on a specific area? That’s no ordinary itch!

Biting their legs and feet

If your dog is gnawing furiously at their paws or legs, chances are there’s a problem that’s literally skin-deep – and without treatment it’s only going to worsen.

Skin blemishes

Noticed anything unusual just beneath the coat? Have a closer look through the fur to inspect for raw spots. Redness, flaky patches and bleeding means that their skin is damaged and needs attention. Providing your pet lets you, and isn’t already too sensitive from all the surface distress, have a good check through and see if there’s an obvious looking problem. A bath is a good time to inspect more thoroughly, but remember that if he is already suffering he might be even more reluctant than usual to participate.

(Too much) ear scratching or head shaking

A dog’s ears are prone to excessive itchiness. Intense scratching or shaking their heads means there’s a problem to be addressed. If you think your dog is doing it for longer and with greater intensity, check for inflammation beneath the fur.


Your dog will use whatever means they can to soothe that itch. If their skin is still prickly and burning, expect to see them licking at the source of their pain. Keep a good eye on the amount of time they’re taking to attend to one spot. If they’re repeatedly returning to one area, then there may be an issue which may need medical relief.

What can I do to help my dog?

It’s normal for dogs to scratch, but constantly chewing their feet, flapping their ears or biting their behinds definitely isn’t part of their usual behaviour. If you think you’ve identified excessive itchiness, a visit to the vet is advised.