Redness and skin reactions can occur anywhere on your dog’s body, but if you have a dog rash on belly areas, you aren’t alone.
A rash on a dog’s belly is very common and can be caused by any number of culprits, including:
- Flea allergy
- Contact dermatitis to something their skin touched
- Heat reaction
No matter what is causing your dog’s tummy rash, it’s always worth a trip to the veterinarian. Like lumps on or under a dog’s skin, you can’t tell what a rash is by looking at it. Lumps or bumps on dogs should always be aspirated or biopsied for a diagnosis.
Many pet parents assume their dog’s belly rash is from the heat or something in the environment. There are too many reasons dogs develop rashes to self-diagnose. Here are some of the many reasons dogs get a belly rash and what to do about it.
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Dog Rash On Belly Symptoms
You are running your fingers through your dog’s coat and decide to give them a tummy rub. In most cases, this is how pet parents discover a belly rash.
Rashes manifest in many ways, and not all dogs will exhibit the same symptoms. I’ve encountered many pet parents who deal with belly rashes on their dogs over the past 30 years of being a Cocker Spaniel mom.
Check your dog’s belly for:
- Skin redness
- Dander flakes
- Oily or flaky skin
- Raised bumps, which tend to resemble pimples
- Hot spots (which look like red, inflamed wounds on the skin caused by your dog licking or itching the area repeatedly)
- Fleas or ticks
- Any wounds, cuts, or scrapes
- Sunburn (if your dog is exposed to the sun)
- Circular lesions, which could be ringworm
- Ulcerations, bleeding, or lumps (which can be canine panniculitis)
Dog Belly Rash Causes
A rash can occur anywhere on your dog’s body, but most pet parents see a dog rash on the belly. In most cases, the rash is seen on the skin or where the hair or fur can be trimmed, shaved, or parted.
A rash on a dog is very subjective. What appears to be a simple reaction to something in the environment or food can actually be a life-threatening emergency, which is something my dog encountered.
Here are some of the common causes of belly rashes in dogs:
If your dog comes into contact with poison ivy, chemicals on a lawn, sidewalk salt, or any other chemical, he may develop a stomach rash.
Just like people who are allergic to certain things, dogs react the same way. Your pup may develop sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes, hair loss, and even vomiting.
Trying to figure out the cause can be tricky, which is why you should start noticing anything your dog comes in contact with outside. Grass? A neighbor’s lawn? A concrete parking lot? Weeds growing along a trail?
When your dog’s skin is shaved too closely, or a hot razor comes into contact with the skin, a rash or burn may result. Clipper burn or razor rash is not uncommon, but you’ll want to talk to your dog’s groomer if this occurs.
Razor rash appears as red, raw skin that may or may not look bumpy or rash-like. It can happen anywhere on the body or where a dull blade drags across your dog’s skin and pulls the hair.
I’ll share some solutions further down this post to ease your dog’s redness or rash.
Hot spots may result whenever your dog repeatedly scratches, chews, or licks an area. Sometimes called acute moist dermatitis, a hot spot looks inflamed and can become infected.
Although they are usually found on the neck, face, or limbs, hot spots can appear on your dog’s stomach area or anywhere else on the body.
Dogs obsessively itch and scratch an area due to allergies, boredom, parasites, eczema, wet skin, or any sort of environmental or food reaction.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Fleas can cause itchiness, redness, and extreme discomfort. Some dogs are allergic to fleas. Called FAD or flea allergy dermatitis, the flea saliva causes extreme inflammation in affected dogs.
When fleas feed on your dog, they inject a tiny amount of saliva into the skin. That skin has protein or antigens in it, which causes intense itching in affected dogs.
Although most areas affected are between the middle of the back and the tail base, any area can show symptoms down to your dog’s rear legs.
Dog mom Lisa Chang shared, “I just found out that my dog, Angel, is allergic to flea bites. Although he has no fleas because we medicate him, he breaks out in a rash when the fleas bite. My vet has recommended that we change his flea meds.
Areas of your dog’s body where the skin is softer and more sensitive can be affected by heat rash. Hair is generally more sparse in the tummy area, making it a prime location.
Dogs who live in more humid environments or who have folds on their skin (i.e., Pugs or Shar-Peis) are overrepresented.
Skin that is red, itchy, tender, and has bumps or small pimples are all signs of heat rash. Dogs may scratch at the area, have pain, and it can be associated with an odor and bleeding.
Of note, dogs who develop this stomach rash after spending time in the hot weather may be affected. Always seek veterinary intervention.
Immune System Disorder
When my Cocker Spaniel developed red, blotchy areas on his body, I wasn’t sure if he had a rash or reaction to something in the environment.
We rushed him to an emergency veterinary hospital, where he was diagnosed with a near-fatal immune system disorder, IMT, or immune-mediated thrombocytopenia.
The blotches I saw on my dog’s body were petechiae, which are small, pinhead-sized reddened or purple spots on a dog’s skin or mucous membranes. He also had spots on his gums and ear flaps.
Other immune conditions like IMHA and lupus are associated with reddened areas, a rash-like condition, or petechiae. Had we waited until morning, our dog would have succumbed. He had zero platelets, and the mini spots I saw were indicative of blood vessel leakage or bleeding under the skin.
Microscopic mange is highly contagious. Affected dogs itch a lot and develop thinning or missing fur. Canine scabies, also called sarcoptic mange, are caused by an eight-legged mite that burrows beneath the skin of the dog.
Your veterinarian will perform a skin scraping and look at the slide under a microscope in the office. It affects dogs at any age and is spread by infected dogs or in areas where foxes reside.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects your dog’s skin and may or may not be associated with a raised, ring-like shape. A worm does not cause ringworm; rather, it is caused by a fungus in the environment.
Usually, dogs have hair loss, scaly and crusty areas, and itchy skin. A veterinarian can diagnose ringworm and treat your dog and your environment. Ringworm is contagious to people.
Impetigo generally affects puppies and appears as pus-filled blisters on the skin. The blisters may break open and become crusty. Usually seen on the hairless portion of your dog’s abdomen, most cases are treated with a topical solution.
Bullous impetigo is a different condition affecting mostly older dogs with conditions such as hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism.
Unlike impetigo in humans, canine impetigo is not contagious.
Yeast produces spores and favors any area on your dog’s body that is dark and moist. Affected skin is usually red and itchy, have a rancid odor, and is associated with scales or flaky, crusty skin.
Most pet parents associate yeast infections with the ears, but they can appear anywhere on a dog’s body, including the stomach.
The scientific name for yeast on a dog’s skin is Malassezia pachydermatitis. I can spell that condition in my sleep as a decades-long Cocker mom.
In dogs, yeast infections are caused by allergies, hormones, antibiotic usage, immune system suppressant drugs, mites, skin disorders, or unclean grooming tools.
My Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, developed a yeast infection on his belly after a grooming appointment. The tools being used were not properly cleaned from the previous client.
Everything from ants to ticks to mosquitos can cause skin irritation and rash, just as with people. Check for clusters of small, red bumps around the paws or belly.
Prevention is key, and we prefer non-chemical, safer ways of preventing flying insects, pests, fleas, and ticks from affecting our dogs.
I learned the hard way that hemangiosarcoma (canine blood vessel cancer) takes many forms. On the skin, it appears as red and black skin growths that may ulcerate or blood.
Fortunately, skin hemangiosarcoma is considered to be the easiest to remove with the greatest likelihood of a cure.
By the time my dog’s hemangiosarcoma was discovered, it was too late, and we lost him within one day from the time he showed symptoms. His cancer was of the liver.
Flaky, raw, itchy skin or a skin rash may be the first signs of a hormonal imbalance in your dog. One of the most common canine hormone imbalances is hypothyroidism, where the thyroid levels are too low.
When my first Cocker was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, she had dry, flaky skin. The skin may become brittle, thin, and dry, with areas of hair loss.
In cases of diseases like Cushing’s or Addison’s, rash and skin issues are common. In Cushing’s, dogs may also develop a potbelly.
Often, treatment for the underlying condition heals the rash and affected skin.
Lumps may bleed or ulcerate, along with inflammatory signs. This rare condition causes inflammation of the layer of fat under a dog’s skin. It may be idiopathic (no known cause) and produce one or more nodules beneath the skin.
We asked dog mom D. King to share her dog’s experience with panniculitis.
Canine staph infections are more serious and can be difficult to control. Staph infections of the skin are very common in some breeds, including Cocker Spaniels.
Staph dermatitis is associated with two types of lesions. One is red with a pimple-like pustule in the middle. The other is circular and reddish with a crusty edge and hair loss in the center.
A veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist will confirm the diagnosis with a skin swab or skin biopsy. People and pets have Staphylococcus on their skin. The infection happens when the dog has an underlying condition or damage to the skin.
Since bacteria cause the condition, antibiotics are generally prescribed. In most cases, a dog who licks, chews, or scratches the skin causes a change in the skin’s environment, and Staph can occur.
Products To Help A Dog’s Belly Rash
Once your dog has been properly diagnosed, follow veterinary orders for treatment. However, some of our favorite products are listed below for minor skin irritations and rashes.
Dr. Harvey’s Herbal Healing Cream For Dogs
Soothe and heal your dog’s cuts, rashes, hot spots, and itching with Dr. Harvey’s Herbal Healing Cream.
We keep a container of this all-purpose first-aid cream for dogs in our first aid kit and dog supply cabinet. It is made in the USA without toxins and brings immediate relief.
Zymox Topical Cream Skin Support
This concentrated formula is designed with an exclusive LP3 enzyme system to get working right away. Great for hot spots, wounds, cuts, or skin infections. Perfect against bacteria, fungus, and yeast.
Zymox topical cream is a staple in our dog household.
Garment To Prevent Licking
Once your pet’s rash is checked and being treated, prevent her from licking it with the Cover Me by Tui Pet Garment. This piece of canine apparel served my dogs well over the years postoperatively and to prevent wound licking.
Vetericyn Plus Wound and Skin Care Spray
Under your vet’s orders, if your dog needs something to clean, irrigate, debride, or add moisture, we like Vetericyn Plus Spray. It can be used to clean cuts, hot spots, and more.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Spray
This veterinary-recommended anti-itch spray is paraben and dye-free and helps with insect bites, allergies, matted coats, and more.
Nicely priced and effective, Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot and Itch Relief has close to 25,000 positive reviews on Amazon.
DogMinder Medical Tracker
Take notes and keep track of your dog’s rashes, veterinary visits, and treatments with the DogMinder. We created this product for savvy pet parents who want to keep all their notes in one place. Just under $10 on Amazon.
Learn More About Helping Your Dog’s Skin
Don’t forget to check out these articles to help your dog stay happy and healthy: