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Help, My Dog Is Constantly Scratching And Biting Himself!

My Dog Is Constantly Scratching And Biting Himself

A few scratches here and there is only normal in dogs.

But if your Fido’s rubbing is intense and it’s also accompanied by biting…

They might be bothered by something.

So, why do they do this?

And how can you help your pooch asap?

Continue reading to find out:

  • Why dogs feel so itchy even if they have no fleas.
  • 13 reasons why dogs scratch and bite themselves.
  • What the possible dangers are if they keep on doing this. 
  • 3 best and proven home remedies to relieve their discomfort.
  • And so much more…

Why is my dog constantly scratching and biting himself?

Your dog is constantly scratching and biting himself due to itchiness and pain. This might be caused by a lack of moisture in the skin. As well as parasites, allergies, infections, or ringworm. Hormonal imbalance and tumors are also possible. But, they may also do this if they’re nervous or bored. 

13 reasons why your dog is constantly scratching and biting himself

#1: Dry skin

Do you notice some white flakes a.k.a. dandruff on your pooch?

If so, they might have dry skin.

In this case, dandruff is only the tip of the iceberg. This is because dogs who have this may also suffer from:

  • Scabs.
  • Rashes.
  • Bald spots.
  • Open sores.
  • Excessive oils.

This condition is extremely itchy as well. And this is why dogs can’t help but scratch and bite themselves.

“How do canines get this?”

Experts say that this can be caused by:

  • Dry air.
  • Harsh shampoo.
  • Lack of fatty acids.
  • Excessive bathing.
  • Seasonal changes.

But, there could be an underlying condition as well. And we’ll get to these later on.

Note: Giving dogs frequent baths may strip off natural oils in their skin which leads to dryness. So, only wash them when necessary. Also, offer them supplements for their lack of fatty acids.

Along with medications, soothing your dog’s itchy skin is also needed. And there are things you can do to help them at home.

What are those?

I’ll discuss them right after these reasons. 🙂

#2: Allergies

“My dog’s itching so much and they’re losing hair too.

What could be the problem?”

One of the most common reasons for this is allergies.

Yup. Like us, there are also certain things that may trigger an allergic reaction in our dogs.

And usually, they’ll get these from:

  • Food: beef, dairy products, and wheat.
  • The environment: pollen, mold spores, and dust mites.
  • Exposure to harsh chemicals: human soaps, pesticides, and fertilizers.

“What are its signs?”

Apart from having itchy skin and hair loss, dogs might also have:

According to vets, 20% to 30% of dogs with food allergies will also have a skin issue. This is why direct contact with an irritant like pollen isn’t always the case.

But Fidos who are allergic to a certain food will also:

  • Vomit.
  • Have loose stools.
  • Defecate frequently.

For this, doctors might recommend switching to a bland diet.

“What is it?”

This consists of another protein and carbohydrates source. Like chicken, lamb, rice, or potatoes. Which are served boiled and unseasoned.

Doing this can help calm a dog’s irritated tummy. And this should be continued until the stomach problems are gone.

Note: Signs of a food allergy may appear right after eating. But most often, it could take up to 2 years before they show up. Meaning, dogs can develop hypersensitivity to their diet as time goes by.

You may also wonder: Why won’t my dog walk on grass?

#3: Fleas

‘Corn cobbing’ or nibbling with front teeth can also be done by dogs because of fleas.

It looks like they’re only biting their legs or tails. As if they’re eating corn on the cob.

But, they’re also in search of those pesky parasites. And you’ll see this too when they’re grooming themselves. 

So, what makes fleas so itchy?

It’s because dogs could be sensitive to flea bites as well.

In fact, PetMD says that this is the most common cause of itchiness in Fidos in the US.

The reason for this is when fleas suck the blood of their host…

Their saliva will also be deposited in the skin. Which contains compounds that can trigger an allergic reaction.

As a result, dogs may itch all over their body. Along with visible red bumps and flea dirt (tiny black specks).

But, they’ll likely scratch more and lose hair at the base of the tail. And the itch will also cause them to suddenly jump while lying down.

The signs might appear as early as 15 minutes. But other dogs may show these after 1 to 2 days.

“Where do dogs get fleas?”

Through contact with an infected animal or object.

Interesting fact: Did you know that fleas were also responsible for the Bubonic plague? It’s said that these parasites (from rats) spread the disease to many humans and animals at that time. Wherein more than 25 million people died.

Don’t forget to check out: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Acts Like Something Is Biting Her

#4: Mange

Your dog’s itchy dilemma might also be caused by another kind of parasite – mites.

These are tiny bugs that bury deep under the skin. So due to the irritation, dogs may constantly scratch and chew themselves raw.

Now, this results in a skin condition called mange. And based on Merck Vets, there are many kinds of it.

But, let’s only talk about the one that affects most dogs.

They’re Sarcoptes scabiei mites. And they cause sarcoptic mange a.k.a. ‘scabies.’

These parasites can be found all over the world. Plus, they’re non-seasonal too. So they could infect dogs any time of the year.

“How will you know if a dog has mites?”

Itchiness, hair loss, and swelling are already given. 

But canines infested by mites will also have crusty skin. And this is usually seen in the:

  • Ears.
  • Elbows.
  • Back of their thighs.

“Are dog scabies contagious to humans?”

Unfortunately, yes.

But vets say that mites won’t last long in a human host. Although they would still cause itchiness while they’re alive. (Quick info: Mites typically live around 17 to 21 days.)

Warning: Mange infestation can spread all over a dog’s body if not treated immediately.

#5: Dog lice

Your Dog Is Constantly Scratching And Biting Himself Because Of Lice

Next, if you see white or translucent specks on your dog’s fur…

Inspect them more because they might not be dandruff.

They could also be ‘nits’ or lice eggs. (You’ll know it if they’re clinging tightly to the hair strands!)

Lice are tiny wingless insects that feed on their hosts’ blood and skin debris. Which results in severe itchiness. And they also dwell in the hair.

“How do they do that?”

AKC says that they have special claws.

These are made based on their hosts’ fur or hair. So, dog lice only live in canines. And human lice can only infest us.

Same with mites, dogs may also get this if they had contact with an infected hound or tools. Say, combs or bedding.

Now, once lice are on a host, they’ll start laying eggs. And it’ll take 3 to 4 weeks for them to mature, experts say.

Other signs to watch out for are:

  • Wounds.
  • Dry coat.
  • Matted fur.

#6: Ringworm

What image shows up in your mind when you think of ringworm?

This could be baffling at first.

But, it’s not a kind of worm or parasite as its name implies

Based on specialists, this is an infection caused by fungi called dermatophytes. And the name ‘ringworm’ was given due to the red bumpy circles that it creates on the skin.

Those ‘rings’ are painful and itchy. So dogs who have this will scratch and bite themselves a lot.

“Where do you usually find those ring patches?”

The most common areas are in the:

  • Tail.
  • Feet.
  • Face.
  • Ear tips.

“How do canines get this?”

The fungi that cause ringworm can be transferred through direct contact.

It’s either your dog may have touched a contaminated object. Or an infected dog or animal.

#7: Insect bites

All of a sudden, your dog paws and bites themselves in a certain area.

“What’s happening to them?”

If they seemed fine before and this happened after they went outside…

It could be that they’re stung or bitten by an insect. Say, bees, spiders, or flies.

Itchiness is a normal reaction in this case.

However, like some of us, vets say that dogs can also be allergic to a certain insect’s venom or saliva.

This is why their scratching will be more intense. And they may also show these other symptoms:

  • Hives.
  • Vomiting.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Swollen nose or face.
  • Inflammation in the bite area.

Note: Look at the area first. See if there’s a stinger left on the skin. Then use a solid plane object (card) to safely remove it. To reduce the swelling, apply cold compress on the area for 10 minutes. Also, your vet may give them antihistamines.

Reading tip: Why does my dog suddenly scream (for no reason)?

#8: Foreign bodies

Same with insect bites, this might also be the reason if your dog’s scratching is only localized in one spot.

Canines love walking and playing outdoors. And they can pick up foreign bodies while brushing or walking on the grass.

Say, small pieces of twigs, grass seeds, or thorns.

Dogs’ paws are also exposed every time they go outside.

So tiny objects could get in between their toes. Which may cause discomfort. Hence, the rubbing and biting. 

Besides their paws, foreign materials can also lodge on:

  • Eyes.
  • Skin folds.
  • Between the toes.
  • Ears (transferred through paws).

Check out also: 23 Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Paws + 5 Dangers & 5 Tips

#9: Mast cell tumors

Do you notice an odd red lump in the itchy area?

Or felt a growth under your dog’s skin?

I hope this isn’t the reason for your Fido’s problem.

But in other cases, some masses can also cause extreme itchiness in dogs. And these are called mast cell tumors.

You might ask, “What’s a mast cell?”

According to vets, it’s a kind of white blood cell. And it’s found on tissues nearby the skin, nose, and mouth.

Mast cells also produce histamine when exposed to things that trigger allergies. (Yes, the compound that’s responsible for sneezing fits).

And when too much of it is released, it’ll affect their whole body.

“What may have caused this?”

The exact reason is still unknown in the medical world.

But, it’s found that some breeds are more prone to it, like:

  • Boxers.
  • Bull Terriers.
  • Labrador Retrievers.

Specialists also observed that 50% of these tumors are on the torso and rear end. While 40% are found on toes. And 10% are around the neck and head area.

Its other symptoms are:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

Note: Surgery and antihistamines are the treatment for this.

#10: Hormonal imbalance

Something might also be going inside a dog’s body when they feel itchy. And this can be a result of a change in hormones.

Because of a lack or abundance of a certain substance, Fidos may have dry skin. As well as bald spots.

Which is similar to the signs of allergies.

Now, what conditions are behind this itchy problem?

Cushing’s disease

This happens when cortisol levels are high. And as per experts, this is common in adult and senior dogs. Which causes:

  • Pot-belly.
  • Muscle atrophy.
  • Increased weight.
  • Alopecia or hair loss.


Now, this occurs when there’s not enough thyroid hormone in the body. Which is due to damage to the thyroid gland.

The hormone it produces is needed by most organs. And a lack of it can make the skin vulnerable to infections.

“What are its signs?”

The most common one is losing hair. And dogs will experience this in their back legs or tails.

But there will also be hyperpigmentation. As well as thickened skin (e.g., face, forehead).

Note: Blood tests will be needed to verify these ailments. Then vets will give the suitable treatment plan for their condition.

You might also be interested in: Help, My Dog Hasn’t Pooped In 4 Days! 15 Reasons + 5 Tips

#11: Infection

Your Dog May Have An Infection

It could also be that your pooch has an infection. And it can be caused by 2 things.

One is bacteria. This usually affects the skin when it’s already weak or damaged.

And the other one is a type of fungus called yeast.

This kind of infection is known for its strong odor which is similar to corn chips. As well as its crusty appearance.

Doctors share that this begins with a simple rash. Then, the skin in the area will thicken. And it may also spread to other parts of the body.

“What causes these infections?”

They’re usually a secondary condition. Meaning, it might be caused by other diseases. Like allergies or hormonal imbalances.

Too much moisture in the skin could also result in this. As bacteria and fungi thrive in wet and warm places. 

This is why the most common infected spots in dogs are:

  • Groins.
  • Armpits.
  • Ear canals.
  • Between the toes.
  • Skin folds (legs, face, genitals).

And you’ll also notice:

  • Pustules.
  • Oily skin.
  • Dark-colored wax.
  • Hyperpigmentation.

#12: Physical discomfort

If you don’t see rashes or smell any odor, dogs might also be doing this due to physical discomfort.

They could be injured. And they’re biting themselves not because they’re itchy. But as an attempt to relieve their pain. 

The major causes of this in dogs are:

  • Bruises.
  • Wounds.
  • Scratches.
  • Injured nails.
  • Sprains/strains.

But there are also bone problems that can make Fidos miserable. Such as:

“Are there breeds who are more prone to this?”

According to vets, large dogs are at high risk when it comes to bone issues. Especially adult hounds weighing above 50 lb (23 kg).

And as they grow older, these conditions may lead to osteoarthritis. Then cause mild to intense joint pains.

Note: Monitor your dog and look for these signs:

  • Limping.
  • Lameness.
  • Difficulty standing up/climbing/jumping.

Minor muscle injuries could heal after days of rest. And restricting their movements. But, more serious issues can be cured by physical therapy.

Read next: Should you walk a dog with luxating patella?

#13: It’s a psychological response

Lastly, did you know that dogs can also scratch and bite themselves when they’re stressed?

This is similar to our nervous behavior. Say, nail-biting and thumb-sucking.

Which are actions that give us comfort. Or temporary relief when we’re anxious.

Scratching is also a good way to release tension. As well as biting.

But due to this, some dogs may develop compulsive behavior. Or a habit that’s done excessively and with no clear reason.

You’ll spot an anxious Fido if they show these signs:

  • Pacing.
  • Licking.
  • Whining.
  • Yawning.
  • Restlessness.
  • Sniffing the air/ground.
  • Panting (even if it isn’t hot).
  • Biting and chewing other things. 

“But what things can stress out our dogs?”

Note: If your dog seems scared, remove them from the stressor. Speak to them in a calm voice. Then put them in a quiet place (e.g., room, comfy crate).

They may also be bored. So, give them more walks and playtime. As exercise is a great stress reducer.

For further reading: 19 Proven Ways To Calm Your Anxious Dog (How-To Guide)

And as much as possible, put an end to this behavior. This is because scratching and biting might lead to hot spots. As well as severe infections.


What can I give or put on my dog to relieve itching? 3 best home remedies

#1: Colloidal oatmeal

You might have heard that oatmeal is a great remedy for itchiness.

Well, it’s true. And they can also be used on our furry friends since it’s safe.

Research shows that it has antioxidants. As well as the ability to lessen swelling. Which is perfect in relieving:

  • Eczema.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Viral infections.

What to do?

For an oatmeal bath:

  1. Prepare a cup of oats.
  2. Grind them using a blender or a food processor.
  3. Then, fill a tub with lukewarm water (up to chest level).
  4. Pour the fine oats into the water.
  5. Soak your dog in it for 5 to 10 minutes.

For an oatmeal paste:

This is recommended if your dog only has a few affected areas.

To do this, get an ample amount of ground oats. Add some water to it to create a thick paste. Then apply it to your dog’s itchy spots.

Note: Also, put an Elizabethan collar or cone on your dog. This is to prevent them from biting their skin and avoid further infections.

While choosing, consider your dog’s size and comfort too.

There are normal plastic ones available. But there are also products with softer material

#2: Virgin coconut oil

Did you know that coconut oil has many benefits to dogs?

It can help improve their:

  • Coat.
  • Skin.
  • Digestion.

Plus, it could also lessen allergic reactions. As well as skin infections.


This is because it has fatty acids that were found to be effective in fighting yeast and bacteria.

“Is this safe for dogs when ingested?”

Coconut oil (in correct dosage) is harmless to most dogs. However, some Fidos might be allergic to it.

Also, avoid giving this to canines who are prone to pancreatitis due to its high-fat content. 

(Quick info: Breeds at risk are Miniature Schnauzers and English Cocker Spaniels.)

What to do?

If you’re giving this orally, experts say that it should be done 1 to 2 times daily. And the dose will be based on your dog’s size.

For small ones, start with ¼ tsp (1.23 ml). And at least 1 tsp (5 ml) for large breeds.

But for obese dogs, never give this to them twice a day.

For topical treatment, just put a small amount of virgin coconut oil in your hand. Rub it then softly massage your dog’s fur and skin.

Note: Applying coconut oil after an oatmeal bath is even better to soothe itchy skin.

#3: Apple cider vinegar

Vinegar is also a natural remedy for a dog’s dry and irritated skin.

This is because it has antiseptic properties. Plus, it could help repel fleas as well.

“Is this safe to be licked by dogs?”

According to Dr. Cailin Heinze, this won’t have an effect on healthy dogs. As long as it’s diluted or mixed with water.

But when it’s undiluted, it might be harmful to dogs with kidney diseases. This is due to its acidity.

What to do?

  1. Create a 50% vinegar and 50% water solution.
  2. Transfer it to a clean spraying bottle.
  3. Then spray some on the affected areas.

Warning: Don’t apply this to open wounds as it’ll cause more pain to your dog.

To know more about these home remedies…

Check out  this article next: 17 Best Home Remedies For Dog Scooting (Itchy Bum)

People also ask:

Why is my dog so itchy but has no fleas?

Your dog is so itchy but has no fleas because they might have allergies. This could be due to a certain food. As well as dust mites or pollen.

While soaps and pesticides can also irritate their skin.

But, it’s also possible that they were bitten by fleas before. And these were removed due to their frequent biting. Or your continuous flea control.

This is because the itchiness from a flea bite may last up to 2 weeks.

Is it normal for dogs to scratch themselves?

It is normal for dogs to scratch themselves once in a while. But, it’ll be concerning if they do it many times a day. And if it also comes with licking and biting.

What can I give my dog for itching?

For your dog’s itching, you can give them Benadryl. As well as food or oils rich in fatty acids. Like eggs, salmon, flaxseed, and fish oils. 

Benadryl is an antihistamine. This means it combats allergic reactions caused by insect bites. And also, irritants in the environment.

But before giving this to your dog, take note of these things from vets:

  • This won’t be enough if your pooch has a swollen face and difficulty breathing.
  • Don’t use this on dogs with other health conditions. Say, heart diseases, glaucoma, and pregnancy.

In tablets, the standard dose for this is 0.00007 to 0.00014 oz (2 to 4 mg) per kg of a dog’s body weight.

And for small dogs, they say that Benadryl for kids is a safer option.

For your Fido’s safety, you can consult your vet about the correct dosage. And to know if this is necessary or not.

Why do dogs scratch themselves with their teeth?

Dogs scratch themselves with their teeth to relieve an intense itch. And also, to get rid of parasites. Such as fleas, mites, or lice.

The itchiness may also be due to:

  • Tumors.
  • Allergies.
  • Skin infections.
  • Hormonal imbalance.

But dogs can do this as well to soothe joint pains. And to comfort themselves while they’re anxious.