Dog Rash on Belly: Causes and Treatment

red rash on dogs belly

Dog belly skin can be incredibly sensitive, and a small irritant may result in an infuriatingly itchy belly rash. Your dog may experience a variety of symptoms, and getting to the root cause can be tricky. Your dog relies on your persistence!

Dog Rash on Belly, Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Common Symptoms

Unfortunately, skin rash appearance can vary widely. And variations can make identifying the outbreak cause difficult. Generally, rashes for dogs are itchy, so the dog’s response, usually intense scratching, biting or licking, may result in red, flaky or dry skin, scabs, pus or clear fluids, bumps and possibly inflammation. Symptoms, causes and treatments for dog rash on belly are the same for rashes anywhere on your dog.

General Treatment

There are no general treatments for rash, belly or otherwise per-se. The best treatment addresses the cause. In some cases, a prescription regiment may be necessary. Your vet can help make that determination.

Root Causes and Specific Treatments for Dog Rashes

Contact Dermatitis

Canine contact dermatitis goes by many names, but is commonly referred to as atopic dermatitis. Your dog has a large number of mast cells in his or her skin. These cells release histamines when an allergen is present, even if that substance is normally be harmless. Histamines create inflammation and initiate other immune related responses, in an attempt to rid the body of the allergen.

Dogs exposed to allergens causing itchiness will do anything to relieve the itch, from scratching to chewing. However, positively identifying and removing environmental allergens is difficult. Animal Medical Center of Southern California recommends keeping a record of the timing and the potential environmental exposures of your dog prior to the reactions.

Allergen testing is helpful in identifying particular allergens when you are at a loss. Both blood and skin tests may be used for diagnosis. The resulting treatment may include immunotherapy, preventing exposure to certain things in the environment, and/or a combination of prescriptions for infection and relief.

Other Allergies

Allergen reactions are not necessarily specific to contact with the skin. Your dog may also suffer from food allergies or may be reacting an insect bite. These each may result in slightly different reactions of the skin.

Regardless of the cause, your dog will want to relieve the itch. Most dogs find this itch frustrating and it affects their quality of life. For diagnosis, your vet will look at recent changes in your dog’s life. Your vet may also request a blood or skin allergy test.


The Merck Veterinary Manual states that hives are uncommon in dogs. These rashes, if your dog has them, will be quick to appear and disappear. Most commonly, hives are a reaction to allergens. However, hives sometimes appear on dogs in heat and on puppies. It’s believed stress can sometimes be a factor.

Hives are most commonly due to insect bites or a reaction to food. However, they can also be a reaction to toxic plants or, in rare cases, chemicals. Often, hives disappear within a few hours, leaving you (both) bewildered.

You should contact your vet if hives occur more than once. While hives are not usually fatal, identifying why they are occurring will allow you eliminate the cause. If they occur after a vaccine or treatment with a medication, contact your vet immediately, as this can be a sign of a serious adverse reaction.

Heat Rashes

Just like humans, your best friend can get a heat rash. This issue occurs when your dog overheats. If your dog is itching a particular area, check for small bumps. The site may also feel a little moist to the touch. Heat rash is a common in dogs with skin folds and wrinkles, as these areas can chafe and retain moisture.

You can gently dab or wipe the rash area to remove excess moisture, which will help prevent the heat rash from spreading. If you can, provide your dog someplace cool and dry to relax. Additionally, you can apply a soothing antiseptic ointment ointment or cream to prevent infection and promote healing.

Your vet may be able to offer a more robust solution. According to Wag!, your dog may benefit from antihistamines, prescription creams like hydrocortisone, or dog-safe aloe vera treatments. You should work with your veterinarian to devise a complete plan, as heat rash can be dangerous if it becomes infected.

Hot Spots

A hot spot is a result of your dog’s itchiness, and attempts to scratch it away. Typically, something initiates the itchiness, such as an allergen or bite. Then your dog scratches, which breaks the skin and releases serum. This serum can promote bacterial growth, and will often make the spot even itchier and more irritated.

That itch and growth cycle means hot spots can manifest and spread quickly on your dog. Your vet will likely diagnose a hot spot based on the distinctive appearance.

Vet West Animal Hospitals describes the treatment for hot spots, which generally starts with removing fur from the area to expose the full rash. From there, the injury is disinfected gently. Treatment is typically rounded out with a topical anti-bacterial and anti-itch cream. This last one may be prescribed for home use to aid healing.


Fleas, or more specifically flea saliva, is a common allergen for dogs. The flea’s saliva, after a bite, causes your dog to itch almost uncontrollably. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take many insect bites to make him or her miserable.

The symptoms for a flea bite reaction are similar to several other items on this list. However, your vet may perform a physical exam or skin scraping to positively diagnose fleas. The vet may also need to rule out other causes as most dogs tend eliminate a few fleas through normal grooming, and they don’t become an itchy problem.

Once fleas are confirmed, your vet will suggest products to relieve the itch and treat any bacterial infections. Then you and your vet will devise a plan to control future fleas. Pet Health Network recommends regular applications of flea prevention product, including special medicated shampoo, collars, powders or oral medication, for pooches with a history of fleas.

Next, you must consider whether your home needs a de-fleaing also, to ensure you are safe.


Ringworm is a fungus that generates a distinctive skin rash, which appears as raised red rings. Ringworm is highly contagious, and your dog can pass it on to you. Any contact with your dog’s skin or surfaces the’ve contacted, such as your carpet, can infect you. The AKC specifies that ringworm requires aid from your veterinarian.

Ringworm is easy to diagnose, due to the distinctive rash. Treatment includes the following: Your dog will receive topical therapies, such as medicated shampoo or ointment administered by you over time, and probably an oral anti-fungal. Additionally, you’ll want to do a deep clean of your home to prevent your own fungal infection.


Mange is a catch-all term for several different species of mites. These mites burrow into your dog’s skin, causing itchiness, hair loss, and rashes. Mites that cause mange are highly contagious, so you’ll need to take precautions if you suspect or confirm your dog suffers from mange.

Your vet will likely need a skin scraping to confirm the presence of the mites and to confirm the numbers are significant. Treatment will vary based on the mite species.

DogTime points out that treatment of mange usually involves killing the mites. You will also need to clean your home regularly for at least a month after your dog’s first treatment to prevent reinfection. Antibiotics may also be necessary to control secondary infections.


Lice are small parisitic insects that can infest your dog. Although there are many species that are harmless (to dogs and us) there are species that hitch a ride on dogs and bite through the skin for blood and other fluids, which can cause irritation and infection. Additionally, standard shampooing may get rid of adult organisms, but will not eliminate eggs, so it’s difficult to break the cycle once it’s started.

Coat changes and itchiness mark a lice infection. You may be able to observe the presence of lice on your dog, and your vet can confirm with a sample and a microscope. Your vet can also supply specific lice treatment products to eliminate the problem as efficiently as possible.

Generally, de-lousing is a multi-week process. The Merck Veterinary Manual suggests using the products prescribed by your vet in combination with extensive cleaning of your home and areas your pet frequents. This cleaning is particularly important for all the soft surfaces your dog lives on. You should monitor your pet for two weeks or more after you last see a louse bug to confirm the infestation is cleared.


Tick activity depends on region and time of year. It’s important to understand that many parasites, like ticks, can further deliver bloodborne parasites and pathogens that cause disease. A tick bite isn’t just irritating to you and your dog, but may be health changing.

Ticks are found in bushes and tall grasses. They have specifically developed strategies to hop aboard mammals bassing by and are quite good at it. Once a tick hops a ride, it’ll insert its mouth parts into your dog’s skin, and start feeding on blood. Most ticks only irritate the bite area, but sometimes the area swells leaving a raised welt. Ticks, especially feeding ticks, can be found by close examination of your dog’s skin and coat.

Your veterinarian can teach you how to safely remove the tick from your dog as well as how to treat bites. Attempting to remove a tick improperly may leave the head and mouthparts in your dog’s skin and can lead to an infection.

It’s important to watch your pet carefully for change in behavior after a tick bite. This my indicate disease caused by transmission of a pathogen from the tick to your dog. Contact your vet immediately if you observe such a change.


Seborrhea is a skin disease that results in dandruff in dogs. With this condition, the skin dries out and develops scales. The scales then flake off, and the resulting skin derangement is itchy. In some cases, this is simply a genetic condition with certain purebreds, and treatment with moisturizers and moisturizing shampoo gives great relief. However, seborrhea can also suggest serious underlying health issues, such as hormonal imbalance.

Your veterinarian can help with a positive diagnosis and strategy. Additionally, your vet will want to test for other underlying medical conditions and or coincident conditions such as bacterial or fungal infection.

Bacterial Infections

The technical term for skin infections in dogs is pyoderma, regardless of cause. PetMD indicates pyoderma is one of the most common reasons for veterinary visits. The symptoms can be non-specific, which is why professional help is very helpful.

Dogs experiencing pyoderma can have symptoms ranging from red skin to small lesions or hair loss. Generally, the bacterial version develops while your dog scratches, due to overgrooming, or simply for any of the listed issues in this article!

Treating pyoderma from bacterial infections typically involves antibiotics, which may be topical or oral. Your dog should complete the treatment as the vet prescribes; otherwise, you risk an antibiotic-resistant infection developing.

Yeast Infections

Yeast, or fungus, is generally a natural part of your dog’s biome. Environmental conditions like humidity may cause this yeast to grow out of control. Or, your dog may have an underlying condition that promotes yeast overgrowth, resulting in a yeast infection. Such infections may be accompanied by a distinctive smell in addition to the redness and itchiness.

Since yeast is a fungus, your veterinarian will probably choose to treat the infection with an antifungal medication. And he or she may also investigate to determine if there are underlying causes, and treat those as well.

Vetericyn suggests that proper grooming is the best way to prevent yeast overgrowth.

Acral Lick Granuloma

Acral lick granuloma can arise due to compulsive licking of a spot on your dog’s skin, usually on the limbs or paws. When examined closely, your vet will find that the damage to your dog’s skin is quite severe and often infected.

VCA Hospitals indicates that this condition is likely caused by a combination of physical and psychological ailments. Your dog may have begun licking due to pain or itchiness, possibly due to allergy. He or she may also have experienced fear, anxiety, or boredom, exacerbating the licking compulsion.

Your vet will want to examine the sore or lesion. Often, the first step is a course of antibiotics to address infections. This step may be followed by anti-inflammatory medication your vet deems appropriate. Some vets may suggest laser-treatment of the lesion, which has the effect of ablating the surface. Laser treatment will vaporize damaged tissue, seal nerves and prevent significant bleeding. Prevention may include wrapping or application of bad tasting creams to discourage further licking.

Hormone Problems

Like humans, dogs can suffer several hormone-related conditions, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Cushing’s disease. All these conditions can result in skin changes and rashes.

Your veterinarian will probably rule out several other conditions before looking for hormone imbalances. The diagnosis process will also rely on your observations. If you have several days before your vet appointment, try keeping a diary of your dog’s habits as best you can.

The good news is that once most hormone conditions are diagnosed in dogs, your vet can prescribe medication to help your dog’s body regulate itself. For example, blue Cross for Pets points out that dogs with Cushing’s can take medication to manage their adrenal tumors. Your best friend can then go back to living a comfortable life.

Fungal Skin Infections

The Merck Veterinary Manual contains an extensive list of fungus that could infect your dog. Unfortunately, not all of them are as easily recognizable as ringworm or yeast. Redness and irritation are common factors.

With the less common forms of fungal infection, your vet may need to perform a culture. With that information, your vet can produce a more specific course of action than using broad-spectrum antifungal agents.

Inflammatory Conditions

Several underlying medical conditions can cause skin changes in dogs. Prominent examples include liver disease, kidney cysts, and hypopituitarism. This rash may be the first sign of these conditions.

A vet will rule out more common causes before looking at inflammatory conditions. However, most of these inflammatory conditions have general treatment plans which should stop the behavior that lead to the rash. The Merck Veterinary Manual suggests that once the underlying condition is under control, most skin rashes will only need symptomatic care while the treatment reaches full effect.

Skin Tumors

Sometimes skin rashes are the result of bumps on the skin, or developing tumors. Often, these start small and slowly expand, which in turn increases their itchiness. If you find one of these, please seek immediate veterinary attention.

Among the most common type of skin tumors in dogs is the mast cell tumor, according to the Morris Animal Foundation. These tumors can quickly cause other problems due to the compounds in the mast cells. That’s also why they’re very itchy.

Not all tumors are malignant, but it’s better to ask your vet as soon as you notice. If caught early, tumors are easier to remove from your dog and have a lower complication rate. Advanced tumors may require chemo and other extended measures.


Your dog’s genetics may be contributing to belly rash. Several breeds are susceptible to rashes. An example of this is lumpy skin on a German Sheppard, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. Of course, if your dog is not purebred, he or she is simply less likely to have these conditions.

Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s whole life when making a genetic condition diagnosis. Recent developments do allow for inexpensive DNA sequencing, but there is no guarantee the results will help as well. Once your vet identifies a condition, you can work together on a long-term treatment option.

Diagnostic Options for Dog Rash on Belly

Your vet has a variety of options for diagnosing your dog’s skin rashes. However, it may take more than one test to narrow down the specific underlying condition causing the skin rash.

Physical Examination

Most veterinary visits start with a physical examination of your dog. During this exam, your vet will look at the rash area as well as doing the routine health checks. This exam may tell your vet the specific underlying condition or what other tests need to be run.

Tape Sample

A tape sample is a minimally invasive way to check what’s on your dog’s skin. Your vet will simply take a piece of tape, lay it on the affected area of your dog, and then take the tape for analysis. This test can show parasites and may help diagnose specific types of infection.

Skin Scraping

Skin scraping involves removing some skin cells from your dog for analysis under a microscope. This quick test helps your vet identify any parasites on your dog’s skin. This test can also tell your vet about certain types of infection that could be causing the rash.

Hair Examination

For this exam, your vet will remove hairs from the rash area. These hairs are then studied under a microscope. This test can show the presence of certain parasites as well as evidence of hair damage. Your vet can use this information to narrow down potential rash causes.

Blood Work

Your vet may choose from a variety of blood panels, and may even be able to perform them in their facility. These blood panels can reveal if your dog has an infection or a hormonal imbalance that may be causing the issue.


During a culture, your vet will collect samples from the afflicted area of your dog. These samples are then placed in a growth medium for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. After analysis, your vet can use these growths to identify specific strains of fungus and bacteria, so your dog’s treatment is more targeted.


In rare cases, biopsies are necessary to determine the cause of your dog’s belly rash. During a biopsy, your dog will be sedated, and a piece of the affected area removed. Your vet will then get the section analyzed, which may reveal a cause. This test tends to be a last resort.

Prevention of Rash

There is no one fits all prevention for a dog rash on belly. Your vet can outline a plan for your dog’s specific circumstances to prevent recurring issues.

Baths help with many skin conditions. Regular baths remove contact allergens from your dog and offer an opportunity to inspect your dog for rashes. Additionally, you can help improve your dog’s coat by using a dog-safe leave-in conditioner. This prevention can, in turn, prevent certain skin conditions on your dog.

Additionally, you should look into the balance of fatty acids in your dog’s diet. Hill’s Pet points out that fatty acids support both a healthy coat and skin. If your dog’s food does not provide a sufficient dose, you can supplement it. A good example is fish oil, though you should check with your veterinarian about appropriate dosing.

Wrap Up

Skin rashes on dogs is a complicated subject. Each dog has unique circumstances, and you may need to work to find out the cause of your dog’s skin rashes. With the help of your vet, you can help your furry best friend live his or her best life in comfort.

This article is not meant as a substitute for veterinary advice. Please seek the help of a registered veterinarian for symptoms.


Dog Rash on Belly Pictures

Here are some additional photos of dogs with a red rash on their belly (stomach):

dog rash on belly due to a bug bite
Dog rash on belly due to a bug bite
chigger bites dog rash on belly
Red rash on dog’s stomach due to chigger bites
rash on dogs belly picture 1
Picture of rash on dog’s belly and pus-filled bumps