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Q&A: Why Does My Dog Scratch So Much in Summer?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Seasonal allergies are extremely common in dogs, and while they can be a little tricky to deal with, they are treatable.

Seasonal allergies are extremely common in dogs, and while they can be a little tricky to deal with, they are treatable.

Why Does My Dog's Skin Itch in Summer?

"I have the pleasure of being the mama of a very happy, loving, and energetic lil' dachshund named Lil Bit, but she gets crazy itchy every summer. Why does she scratch/itch so bad during summer? This doesn't happen at any other time of year. If it's a skin condition or something like that, is there a prescription the vet can give her to help her stop itching?" —Crystal

Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

Have you checked her skin to make sure she does not have any flea bites? If it's not a summer infestation of fleas, it sounds very much like Lil Bit has summer allergies that are affecting the skin—a problem called atopic dermatitis.

This problem is caused by inhalant allergies. Dogs with her condition scratch constantly during the summer and often damage the skin, causing secondary infections.

This is common in people, too. In humans, the skin might be red and itchy, but most people react with watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose. (1) In dogs, the skin symptoms are a lot worse than with most people, and most dogs do not get a runny nose (though they may sneeze).

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Medications and Home Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

There are a lot of good prescription medications for this problem, so you really should take her to your regular veterinarian.

Bathing your dog in colloidal oatmeal does help, as well as some antihistamines that are sold without a prescription, but in order for her to feel better faster, your vet might put her on a steroid, antibiotics, and other medications after checking for signs of fleas or fungus. (2)

Skin Allergies in Dogs Can Be Treated

Skin allergies are not always easy to deal with, but are very treatable, so she should be fine. This is not an emergency, but you should take her in as soon as possible so Lil Bit will not be in so much discomfort.

Sources

  1. Marsella R, De Benedetto A. Atopic Dermatitis in Animals and People: An Update and Comparative Review. Vet Sci. 2017 Jul 26;4(3):37. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644664/
  2. Hensel et al, Canine atopic dermatitis: detailed guidelines for diagnosis and allergen identification, BMC Veterinary Research, 2015. https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-015-0515-5#Sec15

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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