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What is Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis)?

When your dog chews and licks at himself, he is trying to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling of itchiness. If your dog is constantly itchy, scratching to the point of hair loss and redness, this is considered pruritus. It can be in one certain area or the whole body. Itching may be caused by several disorders, such as contact dermatitis, allergy, and infection. The itching can also be caused by parasites, such as fleas or mites.

Inflamed skin caused by chewing or licking is common in dogs. It is also known as pruritus (itching), and it is not actually a disease or disorder, but a symptom of another problem. The key to treatment is to find the cause of the itching.

Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) Average Cost

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Average Cost

$500

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Symptoms of Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) in Dogs

If your dog is unable to stop the licking and scratching, take him to the veterinarian without delay before secndary infection affects the skin.

  • Constant scratching
  • Excessive skin licking
  • Gnawing
  • Rubbing
  • Self-injury
  • Redness of the skin
  • Bald spots
  • Whining
  • Anxiety
  • Aggravation
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Causes of Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) in Dogs

Your pet could display itching signs that are to the extreme, leading to distress and anxiety. Some of the causes for the uncontrollable itching, scratching, chewing or licking could be as follows.

  • Allergy
  • Infections (yeast, bacteria)
  • Parasites (fleas, mites, ticks, lice)
  • Scabies
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Diagnosis of Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) in Dogs

The first thing your vet will do is a physical examination of your dog’s entire body. He will pay special attention to the areas of redness and inflammation where your dog has been itching. Provide your veterinarian with as much detailed information as you can about the itching, such as when it started, any changes in diet or shampoo, if the itchiness is getting worse, and what was going on at the time of the itching.

 A skin scraping will be taken to be tested for bacteria or yeast infection. The veterinarian will also do a CBC, blood chemistry, and skin allergy test to check for signs of diabetes, immune disorder, allergy, or other problems.

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Treatment of Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) in Dogs

Your veterinarian will give your dog an antihistamine to stop the itching while you are waiting for results from the tests. Once the cause of the itching is determined, your veterinarian will decide on the best course of treatment.

Allergy

  • If the itching is caused by allergy, the veterinarian will administer antihistamines and steroids to suppress the itchiness. You will also be given a prescription for an oral medication and topical lotion to use for 7 to 10 days. The important thing is to determine the allergen, such as new food or shampoo. Changing your dog’s diet or shampoo will prevent the itching from returning. If the problem does not get better or if it returns, bring your dog back to the veterinarian for further testing.

Infection

  • If your dog’s itchiness is caused by infection, your veterinarian will prescribe an oral antibiotic and topical lotion to use for 2 to 3 weeks.  

Parasites and Scabies

  • Parasites and scabies are treated with a special shampoo and ointment that you will have to use exactly as directed. Be sure to wash all the bedding that your dog has been laying on recently to keep the parasites from returning.
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Recovery of Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) in Dogs

Many forms of itching need to be treated continually to get rid of the problem. It may be necessary to use a prescription shampoo and lotion for your dog for the rest of his life to prevent reoccurrence. 

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Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,500

Average Cost

$500

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Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shih Tzu

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Nine Months

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Unknown severity

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5 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Itching

My puppy is having more itching & Chewing itself

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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5 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in response, there is a delay in receiving these emails sometimes. Puppies can become itchy due to parasites, bacterial or fungal infections, or allergies. Since there are so many causes, it is best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him and see what might be causing this problem for him. I hope that all goes well for him.

Oct. 7, 2020

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German Rough-haired Pointer

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Itching And Biting Same Area.

My dog is itching and biting the same spot above his tail and biting off fur. His energy is fine has an appetite but has a bald spot on his rear above his tail now. He recently had frontline applied. I thought it was his food so I changed his food to a grain free food. no change

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That area appears to be infected. While flea control is probably very important to keep it from happening again, he may need oral antibiotics to take care of this spot for now. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 12, 2020

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shephard/rottweiller

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Six years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Scratching Under Leg Pits, Chewing And Licking Paws And Flicking Ears And Licking Uretha

I want to know what is the best dog food to try on a dog with these symptoms. She doesnt seem to have digestion problem its just mostly the itching and scratching and licking that is worry some. I have tried so many dog foods but I am just about out of ideas. I have talked to my vet but she more or less says its allergies and it could be food or environmental. I am just wondering if you could just give me some suggestions as to what products that are in dry dog food to steer away from that might cause these effects with her skin issues. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I do not think that food allergies are the first thing that I would think of, and treating for environmental allergies with a product such as Apoquel would probably be much more successful. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Maltipoo

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

N/A

He has excessive. Itching

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 16, 2020

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Japanese Spitz

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Five Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Scratching

what can i give antibiotics to my pup. she has scratches due to compulsive scratching and biting.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. The most common cause for a puppy to be scratching like that is parasites. There are parasites other than fleas, and some cannot be seen without a microscope. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 19, 2020

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Corcky

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Mixed

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5 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Licking
Hair Loss
Itching
Biting
Red Spots
Scratching

My dog corky is constantly itching everywhere. He is scratching and biting any place on his body that he can reach, it is so bad bad that he is startingto bleed a little bit. But sadly I can not take him to the vet because they are tellingme that it would cost over $600 dollars plus he has to redo his shots. Seeing him go through this is really breaking my heart but I do not have the money to help him. He is our only dog that is going through this right now.

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Bowser

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Black Lab

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3 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Licking
Itching
Scratching

Bowser is our first family pet and we're planning on taking him to the vet as soon as we can. He's been itching and scratching for quite a while. He licks and chews his feet, and has hair loss on his feet. I'm also noticing that one if his eyes is somewhat swollen. I don't know if he has allergies to the grass outside or if it's something else entirely. He doesn't have fleas. He doesn't have patchy or scaley skin and it doesn't appear red or inflamed either. We changed his dog food to lamb & sweet potato, thinking he might have a food allergy, and nothing has changed. He is constantly whining and itching, he's absolutely miserable.

Itching, Scratching, Chewing (Pruritis) Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,500

Average Cost

$500

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