Is your dog itching and scratching and seems miserable? Is their normally pink skin discolored with a dark or black appearance? Skin problems and irritations are one of the most common reasons dog owners bring their pets to the vet. Only your vet can determine the cause and course of treatment. While it may look alarming, it may not be serious. There are several possible culprits for these symptoms.
Yeast infection in dogs
The source of your dog's itchiness and black skin could be a yeast infection. Web MD states, "Symptoms include irritated, itchy, or discolored skin." Yeast infections can often be found on their paws or in their ears because they provide optimal conditions for this fungus to grow. While a yeast infection in dogs may look worrisome, they are easily treatable. Your vet can instruct you on the best course of action and get to the root cause of the infection. Often times they will prescribe a topical cream or pill. Medicated baths and shampoos can ease symptoms as well.
Changes in skin color or texture
If you notice any sudden changes in your dog's skin, such as your dog's skin turning black, consult your veterinarian. "Changes in a dog's skin color or coat texture can be a warning sign of several common metabolic or hormone problems," according to Web MD. Changes in your dog's skin can also be caused from an infection. Your vet will be able to determine the root causes of the skin changes by administering a blood test and then create a treatment plan.
Black skin disease in dogs
You may be wondering about Black Skin Disease. It is an endocrine condition called Alopecia X. While it may look painful, it is cosmetic, and your dog will not experience any other symptoms. The signs of Black Skin Disease are areas of hair loss, also know as alopecia, and hyper pigmentation, which is a darkening of the skin. Black Skin Disease is, "an adrenal imbalance of the sex hormones (estrogen or testosterone), in combination with depleted production of melatonin," according to Dr. Mark Macina, staff doctor of dermatology at NYC's Animal Medical Center. The cause is unknown, and it is not very common. It can affect male and female dogs. Your vet can decide on the best treatment, which may include medication and special shampoos. Since it is a cosmetic issue, some pet parents may opt to forgo treatment as an option as well.
Black specks on a dog's skin may be flea dirt. Flea dirt is the excrement from fleas and is often round in shape and looks like black pepper. There are specific places to look for it on your dog. Flea dirt is normally not found on your dog's head and neck. "Usually, fleas prefer the back of your pet around his tail and up the center of the pet, as well as around the groin area and between the hind legs," says veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Liff. Be sure to check for fleas and ticks as well. Not only are fleas unpleasant, they can cause your dog to itch or even have an allergic reaction. Consult with you vet, they may prescribe a topical or oral flea and tick medication. You will also need to groom and bathe your pet as well as use a home treatment to clean and kill any live fleas and eggs.
Dogs, much like humans, can get dry skin and dandruff flakes. You may also see black itchy spots on dogs. "It's a common symptom of allergies, mange, and other skin diseases," as stated in WebMD. Some animals need to switch to a different high quality dog food or may need more moisture in the cold and dry winter months. After consulting with your vet to rule out a more serious issue, "Ask whether a fatty acid supplement or a humidifier might help," elaborates Web MD. Fatty acids include fish oils and flax seed oil.
Regularly examining your dog's skin is a great way to monitor their overall health. You can do this when grooming, brushing, snuggling, and petting your dog. Check with you vet about any concerns. Your dog probably doesn't mind the extra TLC and snuggles.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.