Have you noticed your dog constantly licking, scratching and biting himself? You’re not alone. Skin problems are extremely common in dogs. Not only do they have striking similarities with skin problems in humans, but they are also an indicator of the general health of a dog. Dog skin disorders are generally grouped by the underlying cause. Here’s a general categorization:

  1. Immune-mediated skin disorders (atopic dermatitis, autoimmune skin disease)
  2. Physical and environmental skin problems (hot spots, acral lick granulomas)
  3. Infectious dermatitis
  4. Flea and tick allergy dermatitis
  5. Hereditary and developmental skin problems
  6. Cutaneous manifestations of internal diseases

Regardless of the cause, a typical sign that your dog has a skin disorder is itchiness. In medical jargon, itchiness is called “pruritus”. It’s a word that describes the sensation that provokes your dog’s desire to lick, rub, scratch or chew its hair and skin. Pruritus is an important clinical sign and measure of quality of life.

How to tell if things are improving

Several studies have shown that night-time activity of dogs who have been diagnosed with dermatitis is a strong, objective and practical way to assess pruritus and treatment outcome. If your dog has been diagnosed with dermatitis and you’re working with your veterinarian on a new treatment, FitBark makes it easy to visualize your dog’s progress. Go to the daily view or historical views and look for your dog’s sleep score. If that number increases day after day, you’ll know you’re on the right track.


If you’re curious to learn when your dog did most of his scratching at night, you can use the hourly view to drill down to the individual hours:


Lower nocturnal activity means higher quality of rest and less pruritus. With a bit of technology, it’s simple to see if your pup is making any progress with a new medication or dietary modification.