Black spots on the dog's skin: our vet explains what to do (2023)

Black spots on the dog's skin: our vet explains what to do (1)

Dogs are such an important part of our lives and families. It can be scary when a pet owner finds a new lump, bump, or blackhead on their dog's skin. A condition that I see frequently in my veterinary practice is black or discolored patches on the skin. This usually occurs on a dog's stomach or near its genitals, but it can also occur anywhere on your dog's skin.

Most cases of dark or black spots on the skin of dogs are hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation occurs when the dark pigmentation of the skin increases.

The pigment in the skin cells gives the skin its color. The substance in these cells that creates this color is called melanin. Specialized cells in the skin produce melanin. When these cells are damaged, it can affect the production of melanin.


Black Spots and Hyperpigmentation in Dogs

Black spots on the dog's skin: our vet explains what to do (2)

Hyperpigmentation is the medical term used to describe increased pigmentation in a dog's skin when the amount of color is greater than normal for that dog, often describing black patches on a dog's skin.

When blackheads are probably NOT a cause for concern:If the dark areas are light and slowly darken with no change in skin texture, the dog likely has benign age-related hyperpigmentation. This can be a normal part of your dog's aging process. Below is a picture of normal hyperpigmentation on the belly of a 5 year old dog:

Black spots on the dog's skin: our vet explains what to do (3)

When blackheads are likely to be a concern:If your dog has hyperpigmentation or black spots, you may also notice other skin changes in this area.Although hyperpigmentation may be the only change, the affected skin usually also changes its texture. Pictured below are dark spots on this Shih Tzu with a dog rash:

Black spots on the dog's skin: our vet explains what to do (4)

Skin with dark spots can also be:

  • By,
  • scaly,
  • red around,
  • itching, the
  • crunchy.

Many of these changes are caused by thickening of the affected skin and may be the result of a medical condition that requires veterinary attention. Now let's go over the main causes of blackheads on a dog's skin and find out how you can help your dog.

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The main causes of blackheads/hyperpigmentation in dogs

Black spots on the dog's skin: our vet explains what to do (5)

Hyperpigmentation in dogs is usually more of a sign than a disease itself. Most commonly, the dark or black spots, along with other signs of redness, scaling, scabbing, and itching, are the result of trauma from:

  • allergies,
  • parasites,
  • injuries
  • Severalskin diseasescausing skin irritation and itchiness (leading to hyperpigmentation)
Black spots on the dog's skin: our vet explains what to do (6)

Why does the skin turn black? When a dog's skin is traumatized for any reason, the skin cells go into repair mode. In this process, melanocytes produce and release more melanin than normal to protect damaged and more vulnerable skin. When melanin accumulates in the skin,The result is dark or black spots.

Although trauma is the most common cause of hyperpigmentation in dogs,there are other reasons🇧🇷 These include:

  • aging
  • besondere reassemerkmale,
  • Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism or
  • morbus cushing,
  • medicines,
  • changes in the external environment and
  • Krebs.

Hairless dogs, such as the Chinese and Mexican Crested, often show hyperpigmentation due to exposure of unprotected skin.

Any changes to your dog's skin should be reported to your dog's veterinarian immediately. In many cases, prompt treatment of the underlying cause will cure both the cause and the hyperpigmentation.

Can blackheads be a sign of cancer?

Dark or black spots on a dog's skin can also be an indication of cancer. These skin masses, called melanomas, can be malignant (cancerous and prone to spread) or benign. These are cancers of the melanocytes in the skin, which produce melanin.

Although not 100% of the time, malignant melanoma most often occurs in the mouth, around the lips, or on the gums. They can also be found around the toenails and on the soles of the feet. Malignant melanomas are most commonly found in hairless areas; However, they can also be found on hairy skin areas.

Malignant melanomas grow extremely fast and can spread (metastasize) to other organs. Malignant melanomas often metastasize to the liver and lungs in dogs.

The breeds most affected by malignant melanoma are the Schnauzer and the Scottish Terrier. Being black is also a risk factor.

Benign melanomas (also known as melanocytomas) are usually found on hairy areas of skin. They may be black or a darker color than the dog's normal coat. A melanocytoma can be very small or several centimeters in diameter. They tend to grow slowly and change shape compared to the malicious version.

Benign melanocytomas are most often diagnosed in Schnauzers, Vizslas, Doberman Pinschers, Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers. They are also more often diagnosed in older dogs.

Treatment Options for Hyperpigmentation in Dogs

The first step in treatment is to diagnose the underlying cause. This process can be aided by examining all of the dog's skin and taking a complete medical history. Itching, licking, parasites or wounds should be noted.

Skin infections, whether bacterial or fungal, need to be identified and treated. Many dogs with these skin conditions also have underlying skin allergies, either to something in the environment or food allergies, and these need to be monitored.

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Dog allergies are like human allergies: they cannot be cured. However, they can be managed. When treatment is started and then stopped, there is often a recurrence of the allergic reaction, which in turn leads to recurrence of darkened or hyperpigmented skin.

Endocrine disorders such as hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease) and hypothyroidism are also lifelong health problems that need to be treated and managed. These diseases, if left untreated, will have significant adverse effects on the dog's health and drastically shorten the dog's lifespan.

Malignant melanomas are aggressive tumors and must be removed surgically. Many cases require postoperative cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, immunomodulation, or radiation.

Prevention of hyperpigmentation and blackheads in dogs

Due to the many different causes of hyperpigmentation in dogs, prevention is difficult. Owners should always treat any skin allergies, infections, or lesions immediately and continue treatments as needed.

Damage from UV rays can also play a role in hyperpigmentation, so it's wise to keep dogs out of the sun as much as possible, and if not, use dog-safe sunscreens such as zinc oxide. , in the hairless areas of the skin.

Frequently Asked Questions about Blackheads in Dogs

1. What if there are black spots near the genitals or on the belly of a dog?

Black spots on a dog's skin near its genitals or on the abdomen have the same causes as all black spots on dogs. The genitals are often wrinkled and moist and are ideal places for a skin infection to occur.

2. Does Canine Yeast Infection Cause Black Spots?

Yes, fungal skin infections can cause blackheads. This is due to chronic skin irritation from itching, licking, and organisms that live on the skin. Most dogs with fungal skin infections have the infection secondary to allergies. It is imperative to not only treat the skin infection, but also address and control allergies to prevent recurrence.

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    Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is the director and owner of Kingsgate Animal Hospital, a full-service veterinary hospital in Lubbock, TX (practice profile🇧🇷 She is a graduate of the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

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What do black spots on dog's skin mean? ›

What Are Black Spots on Dogs Skin? Black spots usually appear on the abdomen, tail, or the back of your dog, black spots on the fur and skin of your pooch are usually an indication of hyper-pigmentation. Hyper-pigmentation results from an increase in natural pigments called melanin.

How do you treat black spots on dogs skin? ›

However, if the skin become sensitive or other symptoms appear, a trip to your vet is probably in order. Hydrogen peroxide and borax are among the most popular remedies to treat black spots on our dogs.

What kind of dog has black spots on their skin? ›

Some breeds like Dalmatians are well-known spotted pups. Other breeds like the Jack Russell Terrier or the Beagle are known for spots, but not quite as iconic. Coat color is linked to dog genetics. As a result, some breeds are more likely to carry different colored coats with spots.

What does black skin disease in dogs look like? ›

The disease manifests initially as thinning hair, sometimes accompanied by itchy skin and sometimes not, followed by bald patches, followed by blackened or dark gray skin. Eventually, the dog can become completely bald with deep charcoal-gray skin. Often, the dog will smell really bad.

What kills black spot? ›

Use fungicidal sprays.

Pesticides registered for use include captan, chlorothalonil (Daconil), copper, ferbam, mancozeb, maneb, triforine (Funginex), sulfur, thiophanate methyl (Cleary 3336), and ziram. Many other products listed as rose dusts are also effective. Check the label for control of black spot.

How do you get rid of spots on dogs? ›

How is canine acne treated? The most common treatment for canine acne is topical benzoyl peroxide. This product helps to flush out the hair follicle and reduce bacterial contamination.

How do I fix my dogs spots? ›

Start by raking and removing the dead grass. Next you will need to deal with the contaminated soil. The best solution is to add some lime to the soil and soak it in with water. The lime serves to restore the pH balance of the soil allowing new grass to grow.

How does black skin disease start in dogs? ›

It is unclear what causes black skin disease to develop; it has been linked to hormonal imbalances, allergies, obesity and genetic factors. Most dogs will begin showing signs after puberty occurs and most cases reported are males. Dogs that are diagnosed with black skin disease should not be bred.

Why do dogs get black spots when they get older? ›

In dogs with dense, thick fur, skin discoloration can be hidden by their coat. Age spots will appear as darker, discolored areas, typically on the belly, ears, and nose. Age spots in your dog are caused by a buildup of excess melanin in the skin. Melanin causes increased pigmentation in areas.

What does skin fungus look like on a dog? ›

Fungal Dermatitis

Symptoms include flaky or crusty skin (particularly around your dog's nails, skin folds, armpits and anal area), intense itchiness, and in some cases ear infections.

Is there a cure for black skin disease in dogs? ›

In some dogs, the condition is only cosmetic and does not require treatment. If inflammation is present, early cases may respond to shampoo treatment and steroid ointments. As signs progress, other treatment, such as medication given by mouth or injection, may be useful.

Why does my dog have black scabs on his body? ›

Smooth black lesions on a dog's skin are often caused by hyperpigmentation, a harmless darkening of the skin that can occur after chronic inflammation. Raised scabs can occur for various reasons, including parasites, allergies and infections.

What removes black spots fast? ›

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends the following treatments for dark spots in skin of color:
  • 2% hydroquinone.
  • azelaic acid.
  • glycolic acid.
  • kojic acid.
  • retinoids, such as retinol, tretinoin, adapalene gel, or tazarotene.
  • vitamin C.

What does black spot fungus look like? ›

What does black spot look like? Black spot lesions are roughly circular and may be up to 1∕2 inch in diameter. Lesions often have feathery margins, and are dark brown to black in color. Black spot first appears during periods of wet weather when rose leaves are first emerging.

Is vinegar good for black spot? ›

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid that can help lighten skin pigmentation and may improve the overall appearance of your skin. You'll need to mix an equal amount of apple cider vinegar and water in a bowl. Then, you can apply the solution to your dark patches and leave for five to seven minutes.

What causes spots on dogs skin? ›

For instance, allergies, insect bites, infections, or excessive licking can cause hot spots. If your dog has hot spots, you should reach out to your veterinarian for a recommended treatment. The hot spots may need to be cleaned and bandaged.

What do spots on a dog mean? ›

Most hot spots on dogs are caused by an underlying condition that either causes itchiness, excessive licking, or excessive moisture. The most common conditions include: Allergies (flea allergy, food allergy, or seasonal allergies) Ear infections. Excessive moisture from swimming.

Why is my dog getting spots on her skin? ›

Causes such as skin allergy in dogs, scratching, skin infection due to bacteria, skin inflammation due to skin parasites, and self-trauma by dogs with activities such as scratching, rubbing, licking, and biting at their own skin are commonly seen in dogs with skin problems.

Can I put Vaseline on my dogs dry spots? ›


It's gratifying to know that you want to help your dog's skin issues by applying Vaseline to their cuts, scrapes, and wounds, but it's a completely synthetic material, and it's no good for them.

Can I put coconut oil on my dogs dry spots? ›

Coconut oil can add moisture to your dog's skin and prevent flaking. It also helps freshen up a dog's coat if used with a light touch. To use it topically, simply rub a very small amount onto your hands and then gently pat the coat, run your fingers through the fur, and massage a little down onto the skin.

What is the best home remedy for hot spots on a dog? ›

Apply a soothing treatment

For a natural approach, try raw aloe or apply a cool chamomile tea bag to the infected area. If you choose to use a cream or spray, make sure it's pet-safe and veterinarian approved, like this hot spot spray for dogs by Great Life.

What causes skin to turn black? ›

Hyperpigmentation is when the skin becomes highly pigmented and appears darker than usual. This results in dark spots. Acne, eczema, wound healing, and sun exposure can all cause hyperpigmentation. A form of hyperpigmentation called melasma typically occurs with hormonal changes.

What is the most common skin infection in dogs? ›

Staphylococcal Infection (staph infection)

Caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus sp., staph infection is the most common bacterial skin infection found in dogs. It's a zoonotic risk, which means dogs and humans can transmit the infection between one another.

What causes black skin? ›

Cells called melanocytes located in the skin, produce melanin. Melanin gives the skin its color. In certain conditions melanocytes can become abnormal and cause an excessive amount of darkening in the color of the skin.

Do dog spots go away? ›

Hot spots are an itchy and painful problem for your dog and may become a recurring issue if the underlying condition is not addressed. Fortunately, with good management, your dog's hot spot will resolve quickly and will not result in any permanent damage.

What kills skin fungus on dogs? ›

Systemic anti-fungal medications are often in this category and can include itraconazole, fluconazole and ketoconazole. Use caution with these because although they are highly effective, these drugs can have potential side effects for your dog's liver.

What does a bacterial skin infection look like on dogs? ›

Bacterial and fungal infections can have your dog feeling itchy, with skin that appears flaky, crusty or moist. Redness, inflammation and odor may also be a problem, not to mention recurring health concerns when it comes to yeast dermatitis or staph infection.

How do I know if my dog has a fungal or bacterial infection? ›

Signs That Your Dog May Have a Bacterial or Fungal Skin Infection
  1. Thickened skin (“elephant skin”)
  2. Flaky, crusty or scaly skin.
  3. Redness and itchiness.
  4. Musty odor.
  5. Recurring or chronic ear infections.
  6. Hyperpigmentation.
15 Oct 2021

What home remedy is good for dog skin infection? ›

Chamomile, calendula, and green tea have properties that soothe and cool irritated skin and reduce inflammation, making them great additions in a dog bath for itchy skin. These soaks are best for dogs who have hot, itchy patches of skin that are at risk of getting rubbed raw.

What parasites cause scabs on dogs? ›

Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, in dogs is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, a highly contagious skin parasite. The mites burrow into the skin and cause severe itching, which can result in the formation of scabs and hair loss. It is a nonseasonal parasite that can be found in dogs of all ages and breeds.

Can black spot be treated? ›

Spray against black spot with a fungicide. Follow the instructions, treating the new foliage in early spring, with further sprayings at regular intervals through the season.

How do I get rid of black moles on my dog? ›

How Do I Treat My Dog's Moles? Benign moles generally do not require treatment, though if it causes a dog discomfort, your vet may recommend removing a mole surgically or freezing it off with cryosurgery. If a mole has been identified as being cancerous, the vet will be able to recommend a treatment solution.

Is black spot a fungus? ›

Black spot (blackspot) is the most important fungal disease of roses worldwide. The initial symptoms start as feathery-edged, black spots on lower leaves. As these spots enlarge, the leaves turn yellow and drop off. The disease continues up the stems until the entire plant becomes defoliated.

How do you get rid of black spots quickly? ›

7 Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of Dark Spots
  1. Drink Plenty Of Water. Drinking plenty of water can do wonders to your skin. ...
  2. Lemon Juice And Yogurt Face Mask. We all know that lemons have a number of benefits. ...
  3. Buttermilk. ...
  4. Aloe Vera. ...
  5. Tomatoes. ...
  6. Papaya. ...
  7. Honey.

Is black spot fungal? ›

Black spot is the most serious disease of roses. It is caused by a fungus, Diplocarpon rosae, which infects the leaves and greatly reduces plant vigour.

Can Apple cider vinegar remove black moles? ›

ACV is a considered by many to have a number of far-reaching health benefits. One application that is described on a multitude of websites is the use of ACV to remove moles. ACV for mole removal uses the acetic acid in the ACV to chemically burn the area of skin with the mole.

What does a cancerous spot look like on a dog? ›

Watch for these signs: Firm, raised wart-like blemishes (squamous cell carcinomas) Rubber-like, inflamed sores (mast cell tumors) Strange-colored lumps or bumps on the lips, mouth, pads of feet, toenail beds (melanomas)

Does apple cider vinegar remove skin tags on dogs? ›

Some advocate using diluted apple cider vinegar to remove the tag. This is usually done by affixing a vinegar-soaked cotton ball to the tag. Over time, the acidic nature of the vinegar may eat away at the tag, eventually causing it to fall off.


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