You are spending quality time with your pet, telling it what a good boy/girl it is, giving it belly rubs when you notice brown spots on its belly.
You might wonder – where did these spots come from? What is wrong with my dog? What should I do? Should I call up or visit the vet? You may be understandably worried.
Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that is common in the canine world. It is when the dog’s skin produces increased melanin. There are two types of this condition – primary and secondary.
Primary hyperpigmentation is rare, and it usually occurs in one-year-old puppies. More specifically, the condition is seen in Dachshunds.
The article will explore the reasons for brown spots on a dog’s belly, if it is a cause for concern, and what treatment options are available.
- Brown Spots On My Dog Belly – Possible Causes
- Should I Be Concerned About Brown Spots of Dog’s Belly?
- How Are Brown Spots on Dog’s Belly Treated?
Brown Spots On My Dog Belly – Possible Causes
Some causes could be natural and common, and you could handle them with minimal intervention. But on the other hand, the symptom could point to a more serious health condition requiring proper vet care.
Here are a few possible causes of brown spots appearing on your dog’s belly.
1. Natural Aging
If you notice brown spots appearing on your senior dog’s belly, they could very well be age spots. It is a common sign in aging dogs.
These irregular spots are also known as liver spots, but they have no relation to the dog’s liver health. Instead, these spots develop due to melanin build-up on the skin.
One may assume the dog’s furry and thick coat will protect it from the sun’s harmful UV rays. But that is not always the case. It may be able to block some of it out but not entirely. Your dog’s belly, face, and ears tend to be more exposed to the sun; thus, these will be the first areas you will notice developing age spots.
These spots will not be bumpy or itchy. They are not a cause for concern as they will not affect your dog’s quality of life in any way. Age spots do not require any treatment. If you are concerned, you can surely discuss this with the vet.
Be careful, though; you must keep an eye on these spots. Please get in touch with the vet if the unassuming spots start changing color, become bumpy, scaly, or have a pus-like discharge.
Any substance that evokes an overreaction from the dog’s immune system is known as an allergen. Food and environmental allergens are common among dogs. Dairy, chicken, soy, gluten, pollen, and dust are some examples of allergens.
Itchy skin is a common symptom when a dog has an allergic reaction. The constant itching is not good for the skin. If allergies are not managed with lifestyle changes and medications, the itching and scratching could turn chronic.
The trauma the skin deals with over time can result in spots developing on the dog’s skin. The skin will not change color overnight, but as the trauma builds up, it will change color and get dark enough to be visible.
Again, please visit the vet if the skin shows other symptoms like scabs, sores, or lesions.
3. Contact Dermatitis
This is another skin condition that is caused due to allergens and irritants. If the cause is an allergy, it means the dog’s immune system has developed an allergy to a substance that may be harmless, and you may be using it on the dog for a long time. For example, it could be the shampoo you have always used on your dog.
If the cause is an irritant, then the dog may have come into contact with a substance that is not suitable for pets. For example, plants like poison ivy are not safe for dogs. If your dog is sensitive, it should be kept away from plants like daylilies, baby’s breath, stinging nettle, and acacia shrubs, among others.
The reaction could be immediate, or the dog may show signs over a couple of days. In case of allergy, constant itching could be the reason for spots on the dog’s skin. In the case of irritants, they may actually damage the dog’s skin resulting in spots.
Apart from skin color changes, a dog with contact dermatitis can show signs like:
- Inflamed skin patches
- Thickening of skin
The treatment is typically symptomatic, so please visit the vet and describe the signs you notice.
4. Insect Bites
If your dog is fond of lounging around in the backyard during spring, insect bites could be the reason for spots on its skin. Of course, insect bites can happen anytime, but they can be expected during the spring.
Your dog could be sensitive to the saliva or venom of the insect. Bees and spiders are insects you should watch out for. Itching can be one of the first symptoms the dog will develop.
Due to the impact of the bite and constant itching, the site around the bite can become red and swollen. In this scenario, the dog’s skin will be covered in red spots rather than brown.
A dog suffering from an insect bite can show additional signs like:
- Difficult breathing
You will have to visit the vet as treatment may involve removing the insect’s stinger, other body parts, and medication.
Also Read About: Heavy Dog Panting: 13 Causes And How To Prevent It
5. Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks could also have been considered under insect bites. But we will look at these two in detail because of how common an issue they are among canines and the severity of the effects they have.
Fleas are the most common cause of skin conditions in canines. They can be a nuisance as fleas can live anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year and, in the meantime, produce millions of offspring.
They are usually found in humid environments and can be easily dragged indoors by your pets or yourself. The flea will bite your dog’s skin and feed on its blood. It is your dog’s belly that is often affected the most.
A dog suffering from flea bites can have the following:
- Allergic dermatitis
- Excessive itching and scratching
- Hair loss
Ticks are often found during the late spring and summer months. Ticks, like fleas, feed on the dog’s blood. Tick bites can also lead to skin irritation. But dogs with ticks can suffer from severe complications like:
- Blood loss
- Lyme disease
There are treatments available for flea and tick bites, but prevention would be the best course of action for the sake of your dog’s health.
Your dog may develop skin infection as a primary condition or result from an underlying cause. Some dogs, like the ones with skin folds, are at an increased risk of skin infections.
Your dog’s skin already has bacteria on it. This is not a problem as long as the dog’s skin is healthy. The problem starts when the dog’s skin barrier is damaged. This makes the environment suitable for the bacteria to thrive and multiply.
The condition is also referred to as pyoderma in canines. According to AKC, dogs could be affected by several types of pyoderma, like hot spots, bacterial overgrowth syndrome, acne, lick granuloma, and callus pyoderma.
All these causes may result in symptoms like:
- Darkened skin
- Thickened skin
- Skin lesions
- Foul smell
If, along with brown spots on the dog’s belly, you notice the above signs, please contact the vet for further action.
The thyroid gland in canines is responsible for regulating its metabolism. The dog’s metabolism slows down when the thyroid gland performs below its normal level.
The cause of this condition may be an immune-mediated disease called lymphocytic thyroiditis. Another cause may be idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy, in which the thyroid issue is replaced by fat tissue.
If your dog suffers from hypothyroidism, its hair may become dry and shed. In addition, its skin may increasingly become darkened and also thicken in some places.
Other symptoms may include:
- Weight gain
- Thinning coat
- High blood cholesterol
- Reduced libido or infertility
The condition is not curable, but it can be managed with the help of medications. Please get in touch with the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Also Read About: My Dog Has A Rash Near His Private Area: Causes & Treatment
8. Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s disease is another condition that causes hormonal imbalances in canines. Cortisol is a stress hormone related to the dog’s fight-or-flight response.
The pituitary gland produces a hormone called adrenocorticotrophic hormone, which in turn tells the adrenal glands to release cortisol. However, cortisol production goes awry when the pituitary glands do not function properly due to conditions like tumors.
Other causes may include long-term administration of medications like prednisone, steroids, and genetics.
Skin lesions and thinning are two skin-related signs a dog with Cushing’s disease can show. These lesions may not be restricted to the dog’s belly but can be generalized.
Other symptoms may include:
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
Treatment may involve surgery and medications. If your pet starts showing the above signs, please visit the vet.
9. Genetic Disorders
Dachshunds are a breed that is prone to hyperpigmentation. They are the sole breed that is even prone to primary hyperpigmentation. Simple causes like acne to rare causes like acanthosis nigricans can cause skin color changes.
Dogs with lots of wrinkles and skin folds are prone to bacterial infections. You may keep them clean with regular grooming, but the overlay of skin results in the constant presence of moisture. This makes the skin folds susceptible to bacterial overgrowth.
For example, dog breeds like Dogue de Bordeaux, Cane Corso, Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, and Shar-Peis are more prone to bacterial infections.
Alopecia X is a condition in which the canine may excessively shed its hair, and its skin may become hyperpigmented. Breeds like Siberian Huskies and Pomeranians could be predisposed to this condition.
10. Destructive Behavior
This can be a rare but possible cause of skin color changes in dogs. When it comes to physical and mental stimulation needs, the requirement may vary from one dog to another.
Some dogs can be low-maintenance. A 30-minute walk and an equal playtime session should suffice. Some breeds are independent, and they do not require frequent attention.
On the other hand, some dogs may have high physical, mental and emotional needs. They might not do well when left alone for a longer period of time. And if their exercise needs are not met, they can easily get bored.
Such dogs may resort to other behaviors to keep themselves engaged. This could be licking, chewing, or scratching. If the dog’s needs are neglected, these behaviors can quickly turn destructive.
Excessive licking and scratching could damage the skin barrier, lead to injuries, and cause infections. This can further cause skin color changes.
Should I Be Concerned About Brown Spots of Dog’s Belly?
The answer depends on the reason that leads to brown spots on the dog’s belly. For example, if the spots are part of the normal skin, they are not raised or oozing any discharge, and your pet is otherwise healthy, it is not a cause for concern as the reason could be age spots.
They do not need any treatment as they are a part of the dog’s natural aging process. However, if the spots change in appearance, become darker, raised, bleed, or release other discharge, it is a cause for concern.
If the cause is an allergic reaction or bacterial infection, the symptoms and the underlying condition must be treated. Treatment is recommended at the earliest, or the symptoms could spread and become generalized.
How Are Brown Spots on Dog’s Belly Treated?
The vet may take skin scrapings and consider the range of symptoms the dog is showing to understand the underlying cause.
In case of allergies, the vet will manage the symptoms the canine shows and aim to stop the allergic reactions. This may involve medications, oxygen therapy, or the administration of IV fluids. In addition, lifestyle changes will be required to keep the pet away from the allergen.
In case of infections, your dog may be on antibiotic therapy for about a month. In chronic cases, the duration of the treatment could be longer. As infections are typically secondary, the vet will also treat the underlying cause to prevent the recurring infection.
Prevention is the best way to go when it comes to fleas and ticks. Combs, collars, and over-the-counter flea and tick control products are available.
If fleas are the cause, medicated shampoos, topicals, and oral treatments are available. If ticks are the problem, they must be removed from the dog’s skin.
The vet may treat Cushing’s disease with medications. Surgery is possible, but it can be risky. There is no cure for hypothyroidism, but the dog will have to be on a thyroid replacement hormone which you can administer orally.
So, as you can see, the treatment for hyperpigmentation can vary according to the cause. So it would be best to visit the vet when you notice additional signs than brown spots.
Have you noticed brown spots on the dog’s belly? It could result from the dog’s natural aging process and is not a cause for concern. Your dog will otherwise continue to live everyday life.
Vet intervention is required if the skin becomes dry, flaky, thick, or scaly. In addition, the area could become itchy, and the dog may excessively scratch or lick the site.
Other causes of hyperpigmentation may include allergies, infections, conditions causing hormonal imbalances, injury, parasites, and genetic disorders.
If the skin changes in appearance and texture and the dog shows additional signs like lethargy, hair loss, skin lesions, or foul smell, please visit the vet.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.