Dog skin turning black is also referred to as hyperpigmentation. It results from skin cells depositing more melanin than usual. While not a disease in itself, the darkening of the skin in dogs can point towards some health or skin condition. In most cases, hyperpigmentation will result from a problem the dog has had and is, therefore, a secondary symptom. It is, therefore, only a cosmetic concern as opposed to a health concern. Below we discuss its causes of dog skin turning black, why it may be accompanied by itching and hair loss on the belly as well as recovery and interventions to help fade the black coloration.
Dog Skin Turning Black
When you notice your dog skin turning black, the first step should be aimed at recognizing the cause. This can be done with the help of a veterinarian. There are many benign conditions that could result in hyperpigmentation. There are two major classifications of hyperpigmentation in dog skin.
This only occurs in dachshunds and is not common. It involves a dog skin turning black and thickening areas where there is no fur such as around the belly when the puppies are around one year old. The areas affected will with time become red on the edges due to infection. This may then be followed by loss of hair and drainage in the infected areas.
The darkening of the skin will then spread to other parts of the body. While the darkening may not cause itching, once there is infection it is likely that your dog will suffer chronic itching. While there is no cure for primary hyperpigmentation, symptomatic treatment can offer your dog the much-needed relief.
Unlike primary hyperpigmentation, secondary hyperpigmentation results from other factors such as parasites, bruising, skin infections and allergic reactions. With this, examining the skin to identify the cause will help in stopping the dog skin turning black since the causes can be easily treated and cured once identified. We get into the details of these below.
Causes of Dog Skin Turning Black
My dog skin is turning black, what could be causing it? Find the answer to this below.
Dogs react differently to allergens. While some may simply swell and have the swelling go away with time, there are those that will develop allergic rashes. Where the dog continues to be exposed to what they are allergic to, the skin may scab. Left unattended, the skin may break out and form bloody blotches especially if the skin is itchy. These then develop into purple and black spots.
Where the cause is allergic reactions, the most immediate intervention should be identifying the allergen and getting rid of it. This way the long-term effect of allergic reactions is averted and skin irritation resulting to skin darkening eliminated.
Dogs investigate a lot using their tongues and noses. At times though, the licking becomes too much leading to obsessive licking. This is mostly exerted on the paws and belly. If severe, this could lead to lick granuloma whereby sores develop from the licking. These may with time result in the areas that have been subjected to consistent licking forming the dark skin.
Skin infections mostly have symptoms that will cause scratching, reddening of the skin as well as its darkening with time. Fungal and bacterial infections may worsen to instances where it begins to discharge and create a bad odor. After treatment, these will heal and leave the area affected by hyperpigmentation.
When a dog suffers a scrape, cut, bruise or any other trauma-induced injury, the cells surrounding the affected area become damaged and remain so even after healing. Once damage occurs to the cells, there is a structural alteration that leads to excess production of melanin. This is what leads to the dark skin on dogs in previously injured parts.
It is common where there are scars and other forms of blemishes. Dog skin discoloration on belly due to bruising is quite common due to the thin coat of fur covering the area.
Initially, puppies are usually a lighter hue that darkens with time before settling at a skin color that remains for a while. As the dog ages, though, sun exposure, other harsh environmental and structural factors kick in. These could see skin discoloration occur in making your dog’s skin to become black.
According to vetary.com, up to 33% of dogs that get diagnosed with hypothyroidism exhibit hyperpigmentation as one of the symptoms. This is a condition resulting from an underactive thyroid gland. As a result, the thyroid hormones produced do not meet the body’s needs resulting in low metabolism.
Hypothyroidism will have various symptoms affecting the skin. These include flaky skin, loss of hair around the trunk, tail and hind legs. Once the hair has fallen, the coat turns dull and there is the formation of black patches.
Dog Skin Turning Black and Losing Hair – Black Skin Disease
Also referred to as Alopecia X, black skin disease in dogs is a disease influenced by hormonal imbalance. It manifests as progressive loss of hair and skin darkening in young adult and adolescent dogs. The condition causes even loss of hair on both sides starting with the outer guard hairs before the undercoat gets affected.
The falling of the hair is symmetrical and as it happens, the balding skin darkens. Where the black skin disease in the dog is severe, only the head and paws are left with some fur. The condition does not appear to be painful or itchy and does not affect the health of your pet. It only interferes with the aesthetics of the dog and is only a cosmetic concern as opposed to a health concern.
Although it can occur in many breeds and ages, the condition is most prevalent in Chow Chow, Siberian Husky, Pomeranian, Elkhound and Alaskan Malamute. This is in addition to Miniature poodles and Toy breeds.
Dog Skin Turning Black Itching
When a dog’s skin is turning black and itching, it is possible that the cause is flea bites. Dogs react differently to parasites infestation with some suffering hypersensitivity to flea bites. Some dogs will have allergic reactions to things they get into contact with too. These may cause irritation and inflammation which are accompanied by itching. Prolonged exposure to the irritants will also contribute to darkening of the skin.
Recovery from Dog Skin Turning Black
Since the causes of the skin turning black in dogs are varied, there is no single way of dealing with the discoloration. However, interventions aimed at eliminating the causes can halt the darkening process. Unfortunately, once dog skin discoloration occurs on any part of the body, it may take a long while to clear. In most cases, the darkening only fades with time and the skin never really goes back to its initial color.
With that in mind, once you recognize that your dog’s color is turning black, take them to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis and advice on the best intervention. Follow the instructions given to relieve your dog from any discomforts. After that you can do the following to ensure the overall health of your dog’s skin:
- Bathe your dog with an oatmeal shampoo regularly. The water temperatures should be lukewarm. This will help with getting any irritants off the skin as well as keep the skin clean.
- Only feed your dog good quality food. It should be free of anything your dog might be allergic to.
- To keep fleas at bay, use anti-flea shampoos. Brushing your dog with a flea comb can also help identify their presence before they grow into a full-blown infestation.
- When your dog comes in from the outside, ensure you rinse off their feet to get rid of any allergens or irritants they may have encountered.