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What is Itching His Mouth?

If you have noticed your dog scratching at his mouth and rubbing his muzzle, you may need to do some investigation to discover why he is so itchy there. While he may scratch to relieve the itch, incessant scratching can cause trauma and secondary bacterial infections in the skin. Constant scratching and pawing can also result in patches of hair loss, sore and inflamed skin, and scaling and thickening of the skin. Reasons your dog may scratch at his mouth include:

  • Allergies
  • Contact irritant 
  • Dental problem
  • Trauma 
  • Infections
  • Skin condition
  • Indigestion

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Why Itching His Mouth Occurs in Dogs

There are many reasons why your dog may be pawing at his mouth. Often, there is an underlying skin or other health problem which is causing the discomfort. 

Allergies

There are many things that can cause an allergic reaction resulting in skin irritations, peeling, and itching. Your dog may have environmental allergies, such as to pollen or dust mites, or to chemicals, such as the detergent used in washing his bedding. Your dog can develop sensitivities to the plastic of his food or water dishes, or even to the food itself. Allergies to a food ingredient are common in diets that are fed continuously over a long period of time. 

Contact Irritant 

A dog’s skin can also become inflamed, itchy, and sore when it comes into direct contact with an irritant. This could be a poison, such as those found in cleaning products, or from ingestion of an irritating plant, such as poison ivy or hyacinths. With some irritants, only one exposure may be needed to cause a reaction. Often, a rash occurs which can leak fluid, develop into blisters, or change color.  

Dental Problem

Often, dental pain, abscesses, and periodontal disease can cause your dog to paw at his mouth, rub his muzzle after eating, or even try to get at his ears. Skin irritation can occur from the pawing and scratching, which can lead to a mistaken case of allergies. Tooth and gum problems also can cause changes in your dog’s eating habits, bad breath, drooling, and bleeding gums.  

Trauma 

Wounds and injuries to the mouth, tongue, cheeks, or lips can occur that can swell those sensitive tissues. The many foreign objects that dogs eat, such as twigs, can cause cuts and abrasions, or become lodged in the mouth. This will cause your dog to claw at his mouth, cough, or cry out. Even a tough bone can result in mouth and gum damage. If these types of trauma are not treated, they can result in abscesses or infections. Tumors in the mouth can also cause these reactions, and may affect your dog’s normal eating habits. 

Infections 

Infections can be caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites, such as mites or fleas. These types of infections could cause skin irritations that become itchy, causing your dog to scratch. Sarcoptic and demodectic mange caused by mites both result in severely itchy skin, scabbing, and hair loss. Fleas can cause your dog to scratch incessantly, and can become exacerbated if your dog has an allergy to flea bites. Bacterial infections are common in skin that is being damaged by trauma, such as scratching. 

Skin Condition

There are other conditions which can cause the skin to become irritated and itchy. Tumors, cysts and warts can cause your dog to paw at himself. Hormonal imbalances can induce skin reactions, diseases such as Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism may induce itchy skin. Cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or pemphigus, can also affect the skin. Dry skin and dandruff will cause itchy skin as well. 

Indigestion

Dogs with digestive problems, or those experiencing stress or anxiety, can be affected by heartburn or acid reflux disease. The unpleasant burning in the throat and chest can cause your dog to scratch under his jaw. Other symptoms may include an increase in drinking, panting, and eating, coughing, or eating grass.

What to do if your Dog is Itching His Mouth

If you have witnessed your dog pawing continuously at his mouth, do some investigating of the area. Look for signs of skin irritations and rashes, or look in his mouth for infections or blood. Your veterinarian will ask for your observations of any symptoms in your dog, so include changes in eating, elimination habits, and behavior. Your vet may also ask if your dog has been in contact with infected animals, if you have noticed fleas, if he has eaten something he shouldn’t have, or if there is something new in his environment, such as a new diet, shampoo, or cleaning product used in areas he frequents. 

After a physical examination, your vet may also perform a thorough dental exam to determine if there is a dental issue causing the scratching. Further testing can include blood, urine and fecal tests to look for infectious agents, X-rays or ultrasounds if there may be a tumor or tooth issue, skin scrapings, allergy testing, or an endoscopy to examine the esophagus. Once the cause has been determined, treatment follows as needed.

Allergies can be controlled with medications, such as antihistamines and steroids, a removal of the allergen which may require a change in diet, and possibly allergy shots that can help to desensitize the immune system. Dental problems may require oral surgery to remove teeth, treat abscesses, and clean the teeth and gums. Dental surgery may also be used to treat any trauma in the mouth or remove oral tumors. Antibiotics to treat or prevent infections, and pain medications, can be prescribed after such procedures. Parasites are often treated with specialized medications, and you may be given certain shampoos or lotions to apply to your dog to remove them. Bland, moist diets work well for dogs who suffer from heartburn, as do medications to reduce the production of stomach acid. 

For healing the skin itself and relieving the itch, many of the medications given for allergies can be used. Soothing shampoos and specialized lotions and creams can moisturize and heal the skin. Be sure to monitor your dog for any changes during recovery, and keep any irritants and allergens out of his reach.

Prevention of Itching His Mouth

Preventing an allergy from developing is impossible, but you can prevent an allergic reaction by reducing your dog’s contact with the allergen. Monitor your yard for possible irritating objects and remove them so that your dog cannot eat them. Routine dental care can be accomplished at home that can keep your dog’s mouth healthy, such as regular brushing. Routine examinations are essential to catching disease early and treating your dog before symptoms become too progressed.

Cost of Itching His Mouth

The cost to treat an itchy mouth in your dog can vary considerably, depending on the cause, and can range from $200 to $3000. The average cost for a tooth abscess can average around $1200, while gum disease can be as expensive as $2500. Treatments for infections such as mange can average $350. An acute case of contact dermatitis can be around $400, while pollen allergies can be as high to treat as $1200.

Itching His Mouth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Sofie
Jack russle terrior
8 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

My dog is been itching and scratching her skin and gums now she is chewing my comforter on my bed pulling out the stuffing in it. I know she has no fleas but got into poison ivy as I did. This been going on for a few months and more constant now also has an itchy vagina for at least 6 months or more. Don't have money to take her to the vet . Any solution I can try ?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
There are various causes for irritation to the mouth and may be caused by allergies, toxins, plants, chemical irritation as well as dental disorders; without examining Sofie’s mouth I cannot say what the cause is, she may have some dental issues or she may require her mouth to be rinsed out regularly. The vaginal itching may be caused by various causes including infections, urinary crystals, skin fold dermatitis and trauma; ideally you should have your Veterinarian take a look regardless of cost since different causes have different treatments. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bonnie
Chu-Weenie
3 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

My dog has been using her bed to itch her muzzle. It seems like she's trying to get something off her nose. This is the first time I've seen her go crazy, usually it's just a normal itch. Any clues?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
There are a few different causes for an itchy nose which may include foreign objects, allergies, polyps, dental issues among other causes; without examining Bonnie I cannot say for sure what the underlying cause is. A visit to your Veterinarian would be useful to examine the nose and mouth to look for any anomalies. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Memphis
Australian Shepherd Dog
6 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

fishy smell from rectum
fishy smell from anus
Vomiting foam
vomiting food
smacking lips
not drinking as much
licking lips
Pawing at mouth
Foaming At The Mouth
Vomiting

My baby girl memphis has been acting strange. For a few days now as been pawing and smacking her mouth so much it causes small amounts of foam to protrude. I noticed a couple weeks ago that she smelled like fish near her anus. I gave her a bath and she had only one time since. She was vomiting up foam and food so I switched her food 2 days ago and hasn't puked since but it might be too early to say for sure. She's been shedding like crazy too the past couple weeks and its cold outside. I thought she was only to shed when it's hot outside. I now havefed her a generic form of blue buffalo. The past couple weeks she hasnt been drinking her water as much as she did before, too.I can tell its bothering her, but otherwise she seems fine and still plays. I'm worried it may result into something serious later on. Oh and i also started feeding her a bowl of oatmeal twice a week as i heard its good for her heart.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. It would probably be a good idea to have Memphis examined by a veterinarian, to have a good oral exam and make sure that nothing unusual is going on in her mouth. They'll be able to assess her skin and hair coat at the same time and make sure that she doesn't have any infection or parasites causing the shedding. I hope that everything is normal with her!

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Denver
australian shepherd mix
2 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

scratching at mouth, blood
scratching at mouth, bleeding
scratching at mouth

My dog, Denver, has scratched the corner of his mouth open at least 2 times in the last month. We just moved across the country, so I’m not sure if there’s a related allergy factor or what. At our last vet visit, he was also scratching his body and creating scabs (mid June). I mentioned this mouth and body and the vet prescribed a steroid for the scratching which helped. The vet didn’t seem very interested or concerned with his mouth, though.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
It is difficult to know whether there is something specifically in the mouth causing irritation leading to scratching or if Denver is scratching himself and cutting his mouth open due to carelessness. Allergies are a possibility especially in a new area and Denver may be just itching himself due to irritation; without examining him unfortunately I cannot recommend any specific course of action apart from possibly allergy testing to see if there is an allergen. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bo
Miniature Schnauzer
13 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

none
No teeth

My dog doesn’t have any teeth. However, he uses his paws to rub on the sides or inside of his mouth. I didn’t know if he was trying to prevent his tongue from sliding out or a health issue. He is not showing any signs of pain when rubbing outside of his mouth. He is eating his soft food without any problems. Is this normal for a dog without teeth?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
It is difficult to say why he is rubbing the sides of his mouth; there may be some irritation or discomfort which he is scratching but I cannot say for certain whether this is something to be concerned about or not. Keep an eye on him and bring it up with your Veterinarian at the next checkup. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Charlie
Weimaraner and lab
10 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Fishy odor from rectum, itchy
Fishy odor from recrum

My dog is contstantly itching. Now I notice he is contestantly scratching his mouth. Fishy smell from anus. 3 weeks ago He had yeast infection on his right ear and we treated it. We feed him natural balance. Should I take him to the vet?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Charlie may be suffering from a bacterial infection, or allergies, or parasites, among a few things that can cause these signs. Since I can't examine him to determine the cause of his scratching, it would be best to have him seen by your veterinarian, as they will be able to look at his skin and mouth and determine what might be going on with him. I hope that he is more comfortable soon!

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Tino
Chihuahua
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

itchy gums, rubbing and pawing

Hello,
My dog is pawing mouth. He had just dental job done as vet diagnosed that it's from his gingivitis. I spent $2000 and I'm devastated as the condition persists. He is ok on Apoquel which I was giving him for 2 weeks but I don't want to continue. He is 3 y old Chihuhua. He is a healthy dog but has itchy gums and rubbing a few times a day (not often) his mouth (gums) and someties chin.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without seeing Tino, it is hard for me to comment on what migt be going on with his mouth, whether it is mouth pain or allergies. he may be sore from his dental work that he just had done, and need pain medications. it would be best if you follow up with your regular veterinarian to find out what is going on with him and see what treatments he might need to be comfortable. I hope that he is okay.

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snowee
Askal Philippine Dog
8 to 10 months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

None

what to do if my dogs mouth is somewhat swollen because of sudden itching WHEN SHE ATE PORK WITH SOY SAUCE SUDDEN ITCHING IN MOUTH OCCURS.. IS IT OK ? OR WHAT WE WILL DO TO LESSEN THE ITCH....SHE IS LIVELY AND NO SIGNS OF ANYTHING MORE SERIOUS OTHER THAN THOSE SHE IS NOT HAVING HARD TIME BREATHING

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations

Soy sauce is toxic to dogs due to the high salt content; also some brands of soy sauce may have other ingredients which may be poisonous for dogs which may cause swelling, organ failure or death. In a reaction this severe, it is important to induce vomiting with 3% hydrogen peroxide to make Snowee vomit and to wash out the mouth thoroughly; it would still be best to visit your Veterinarian and take the soy sauce bottle with you to show the ingredients list. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Ozzy
Labrador
7 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Itching

Only rubbing o left side of his mouth with his paw. Looked inside and teeth all loom fine and clean but inside lol looks slightly pinkier than other side. Been like it a few weeks. No signs of a sting or toothache so a bit perplexed what it could be.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Dental disorders are a common cause of pawing at the mouth and there may be a cavity, small foreign object, oral trauma among other causes leading to this pawing; other causes may include behaviour, chronic poisoning, foreign object in nasal cavity among other issues. You should think about visiting your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side so that a specific cause can be identified. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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