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Itchy Summer Skin Causes in Dogs

Although there are a number of things that can cause itching problems in dogs all year round, it is in summer that the greatest risks occur. Although it is fairly obvious when your dog is suffering from itchy summer skin, it is generally not so easy to determine the cause.

Fleas first

This is probably the place to start. Should your dog suddenly start itching it is wise to treat them for fleas even if you can’t see any. Reaction to the flea saliva left in the dog’s skin when a flea bite is a common cause of itching. Scratching is most often around the lower and rear parts of the body, particularly towards the rear. If the scratching is so bad that the skin becomes damaged and infected you should get veterinary advice and treatment.

Itchy Dog
Itchy Dog

Even if just one pet is scratching you will need to use an effective flea treatment on all the cats and dogs in the house. Your vet can point you in the direction of newer, safer products for flea control and also advise you on the most effective way to use them. Just as bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, fleas have started to become resistant to some of the older products that once worked very well.

It is also very wise to use an environmental treatment, especially if the problem has been ongoing for a while. Typically, fleas that are seen on pets account for only 5% of the total flea population. The rest exists in the environment as eggs, larvae and pupae. Did you know that the pupa stage of the flea life cycle can remain dormant in your house for up to a year, ready to start biting you, your animals and your family at any time? (Double YUCK!)

Please remember NEVER use insecticidal products designed for dogs on your cat as this can be fatal.

Allergic Reactions

Some dogs will lick, nibble, scratch, rub or chew at their feet, tummies and ears. Often, this can be a sign of allergic skin disease. This occurs when an individual animal develops a sensitivity re moulds and house dust mites…  It’s not unlike having hay fever but the skin is affected. You can help your pet by removing these microscopic particles by washing your dog with a mild, soothing shampoo, such as Dog Hair Day, which can also help to calm any inflammation. Just wiping their paws and tummy with a damp cloth or sponge after walks, especially if the pollen count is high. This can be a cause of itchy summer skin so help to reduce exposure to pollens, by avoiding going for walks in the early morning or early evening. If the problem persists or your dog is damaging itself excessively, please visit your veterinary surgeon.


Ticks are very nasty little creatures. Luckily, only a small number of ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. A tick bite can only cause Lyme disease in humans if the tick has already bitten an infected animal. But it’s still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case. For more information about Lyme disease click here


Harvest Mites (chiggers or berry bugs) are very interesting little critters. They are VERY ITCHY and can cause dogs (and cat!) to attack their paws and sometimes round their ears, eyes, face and occasionally their tummies – all very similar to the areas affected by allergies.

They are the larval stage of a mite (Neotrombicula autumnalis) that lives only in certain areas of the country where there is grass land growing on limestone. They are active between July and late September (depending on the weather) so are perfect for causing itchy summer skin and can just be seen if you look very closely with the naked eye as bright orange dots, the size of a full-stop, often in small clumps, between the toes, on the ear margin or round the eyes.  Generally, the use of a fipronil-containing spray such as Frontline ® Effipro® (not the spot-on), can help kill them and may help prevent re-infestation if used every 1-2 weeks.

Some of the newer oral flea treatments may be effective but there is nothing currently licenced in the UK.

See your vet to get to the root of these problems.

So far, we have only discussed insecticidal products to deal with fleas and other problems. However, there are a lot of people who prefer to use herbal based products.

There are plenty of herbal products on the market, with lots of information on the internet and specialised Facebook groups that can help you make the right product choice.

But don’t forget, if you need to visit your vet, always tell them if your dog is taking any herbal products to ensure that there are no contra indications.

DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained here it is for educational purposes only. The writer of this article and Dog Hair Day can’t diagnose any physical, mental or behavioural condition in animals nor prescribe treatment. We urge you to consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog.