How to Treat a Rash on a Dog’s Belly
Dogs can actually have a skin rash anywhere, but the belly does seem to be a particularly vulnerable spot. Perhaps it’s because the skin there is extra soft and tender, making it prime real estate for mites, bacteria, and fungi. Whatever the reason, skin rash is never fun, not for you or for your poor dog.
Though it’s never a good idea to leave a belly rash unchecked, the longer it’s allowed to continue without proper care and attention, the worse it can become. This is because the more your dog itches and scratches at the tender skin of his belly; the more likely he is to spread the rash to other parts of his body. Bacteria and fungi can get caught under your dog’s nails as he scratches his tummy, and then when he scratches elsewhere, that bacteria or fungi can be transferred.
Causes of Belly Rashes on a Dog
Dogs can suffer from skin rashes on their belly for many reasons, typically originating from either some kind of fungal infection or bacterial infection, or sometimes due to an infestation of parasites like fleas, mites, or ticks. They can also have an underlying health condition like canine Cushing’s disease, or hormonal imbalances like hyperthyroidism that could contribute to their skin woes.
Because a dog’s skin is so sensitive, it often reacts quickly to changes both inside and outside their body. Though the skin behaves as a protective barrier for a dog, it can also behave as a warning sign to indicate when something is off in your dog’s system. You can be sure that whatever is out whack will end up manifesting as a rash on the skin. Your biggest problem then will be figuring out how best to treat it.
Dogs can also suffer from conditions like canine mange and even find themselves victim to a good old-fashioned heat rash. The important thing with any rash is to try to figure out the cause of it, first and foremost. Only then can you determine the best way to begin treating it. Knowing why your dog has a rash or what initially caused the rash gives you a jumping off point. Think about it… it’s a waste of time and effort to treat a bacterial infection with fungal meds and vice versa. You have to know what you’re dealing with beforehand, so you can decide on the best course of action.
Bacterial infections will require antibiotics to treat the rash effectively. Likewise, dogs with a yeast infection will require anti-fungal medication. Fleas, ticks, and other parasites like mites will require certain preventative medications to be administered, as well as something to kill the current infestation. You can also never go wrong with giving your dog a nice, soothing oatmeal bath or apple cider rinse, as both are known to help calm inflammation in dogs, and every little bit helps.
Symptoms of a Belly Rash on a Dog
Symptoms of a belly rash can run the gamut, depending on what’s causing the rash in the first place and whether or not there is some kind of underlying health issue related to the rash. Some of those symptoms may include:
· Itching and inflammation
· Swelling and/or hives
· Flaking skin
· Ulcerated skin
· Skin that weeps fluid and pus
· Strong, foul odors
· Little pimple-like bumps
· Bald patches and hair loss
· Skin that is “thickened”
· Scabs and crusting
· Compulsive chewing
· Licking and biting
How to Treat a Rash on Dog’s Belly
Treatments for a belly rash will vary depending on the cause of the rash in the first place. If your dog is only suffering from something like heat rash, then you might get away with a soothing oatmeal bath and perhaps some kind of hydrocortisone cream. Stay away from calamine lotion, as it can be toxic to a dog if ingested. If your dog’s inflammation is severe and ongoing, your vet may recommend a round of anti-inflammatory medications to help calm the rash.
If you suspect your dog is reacting to some kind of allergy, you may need to see a specialist. Dogs can be allergic to things in the environment or foods they eat. Trying to figure out the allergen source can feel like an uphill battle. If you suspect it might be something your dog is consuming, your vet may recommend removing certain foods to see if they respond positively. This is sometimes called an elimination diet. This diet requires removing certain foods and determining the source of an allergy by the process of elimination.
Your vet may recommend that testing is done as well to uncover any vulnerability to common environmental allergens. Dogs can have seasonal allergies just like people, or be allergic to certain grasses and weeds as well.
Dogs with conditions like mange, fleas, or ticks, will need medicated shampoo to treat existing parasites and will be given prevention meds to limit the potential for future infestations. Sometimes solutions like flea and tick collars can be helpful, but not always. Topical solutions are often the best bet, as well as treating your yard and home.
If your dog has some kind of infection, whether it’s bacterial or fungal, it will need to be treated with antibacterial or antifungal medications, or both. Yes, your dog can have both types of infections at the same time. Though this is miserable, it’s not uncommon. Yeast infections happen all the time in dogs and can cause serious discomfort, including emitting a funky odor and inciting chronic itching. Yeast can also spread to other parts of your dog’s body very quickly and cause additional problems, so it’s important to treat it right away and not let the problem get out of control.
If your dog has some kind of underlying health issue such as Cushing’s disease or hormonal imbalances, your vet will need to treat those conditions first in order for your dog to see relief from their belly rash. Often skin problems are just a symptom of an underlying disorder, so it’s important to note your concerns and discuss them with your vet to rule out the possibility of something more serious. Sometimes it’s not merely a rash. Your vet may require additional testing and follow up treatments to bring an underlying disorder under control.
While you will definitely have to use medications for certain kinds of rashes, it doesn’t mean you can’t also try other remedies to try to bring your dog some relief. Rashes, itching, and inflammation can drive a poor dog bonkers.
Oatmeal Bath - Oatmeal has long been used as a soothing skin ingredient in soaps and shampoos. You can make an oatmeal bath yourself or you can buy it ready-made in the store. Either way, try it on your dog and see if it helps soothe his itchy skin.
Herbal Tea Sprays - Some pet owners recommend sprays made with herbal teas. Teas can kill fungi and bacteria and relieve inflammation, making them a great natural remedy to try on your dog’s itchy tummy.
Epsom Salt Baths - Epsom salts can be soothing and help to bring down any inflammation and swelling your dog may be experiencing. The salts also have healing and cleansing properties, which is good if your dog has any open wounds from scratching and biting. You can do the same thing using baking soda as well.
Apple Cider Vinegar Spray - Sometimes sprays made from cider vinegar can be helpful, especially with fungal or bacterial infections. Just mix it with equal parts water and spray your dog after their bath.
Regular Bathing - Dogs aren’t that different from people. Regular baths can be highly beneficial for dogs with a rash, especially if they are sensitive and have allergies. A regular bath helps remove any allergens from their feet and fur, and if you use soothing ingredients like oatmeal or Epsom salts, you get double the benefit. Never underestimate the power of a good bath on a weekly basis.
Sometimes simple home remedies just won’t cut it, and your dog will need antibiotics and other medications to treat the belly rash successfully. The important thing is to not give up.