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What to Do If Your Dog Has a Belly Rash

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lying on its back in the grass.

Itchy red spots on a dog’s stomach are pretty common, but they can still be unnerving to see. Here are the most common reasons your dog might have a belly rash.

If you notice a rash, large bumps, or flaky skin on your pup’s stomach, you don’t need to rush him to the ER, but you shouldn’t ignore it, either. Stomach rashes are common in dogs, but before you can treat it, you have to figure out what’s causing it.

You can start here, with the most common reasons dogs develop belly rashes, and how to treat them.

Allergic or Contact Dermatitis

An Australian Shepherd in a field of daisies.

Allergic or contact dermatitis refers to any kind of allergic reaction to an outside influence, like pollen, dust, mold, fertilizer, or hay. Your dog may have a reaction after ingesting an irritant, like breathing in pollen, or after coming in contact with one, such as when walking through a garden sprayed with an insecticide.

Both allergic and contact dermatitis will result in a red, itchy rash on your dog’s skin. You will likely see your dog itching, licking, or gnawing at the inflamed skin. This rash is often accompanied by other symptoms like watery eyes and sneezing.

There’s an endless list of things that might cause your dog to have a bad reaction, so it may take a while to determine what’s causing the issue. Has your dog’s routine changed recently? Did you start using a new pet shampoo? Have you introduced a new food into their diet? Do you use household cleaners that aren’t pet-friendly?

If you can’t figure out what your dog is allergic to and the rash doesn’t go away after a few days, take your pup to the veterinarian. A vet may be able to notice elements in your dog’s life that might be causing a reaction and help you find the best solution. Usually, they will treat the rash with a topical cream and recommend you remove the allergen from your dog’s environment.

Many dogs suffer from seasonal allergies that come and go periodically. These supplements are packed with ingredients like salmon oil and probiotics that can help their immune system fight off mild allergic reactions.

Food Allergies or Sensitivities

British Bull dog eating.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to pretty much anything. Food allergies can result in many symptoms, including a belly rash, scabby skin, runny eyes, ear infections, hair loss, vomiting, and diarrhea.

These allergies can be very difficult to diagnose unless you can pinpoint your dog’s reaction to a new food you recently introduced into their diet. Talk to your vet if you think your dog has a food allergy—an elimination diet is usually necessary and can take weeks of meticulous food tracking. Sometimes, tests can be run as well.

While you’re waiting to find out what your dog is allergic to, switching her to Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach food might be helpful.

Bacterial or Fungal Infections

A woman sprays her dog's paw with a medicated spray
Veterinary Formula

Several types of infections have symptoms that include a belly rash. Bacterial skin infections, called pyoderma, often cause pimple-like spots on your dog. They can also make your dog’s skin crusty, dry, and flaky. This infection can be caused by excessive moisture or trauma to the skin like cuts, abrasions, or frequent rubbing.

Fungal infections, like yeast infections or ringworm, can be caused by immune system deficiencies, a buildup of oil on the skin, or inhalation of fungal spores. Yeast infections can cause a belly rash, ear infections, and may have a musty smell. Ringworm is characterized by red, circular-shaped lesions on your dog’s stomach.

Infections can be easily treated by a veterinarian when caught early. Take your dog to the vet if you suspect they are suffering from some type of infection. They will be able to correctly diagnose the issue and determine the best treatment for it. This Antifungal medicated spray can keep the area clean and reduce itchiness in the meantime.

Fleas or Ticks

A beagle scratching in tall grass.

External parasites like fleas and ticks can repeatedly bite your dog’s skin and leave red, itchy bumps. Fleas are found in almost every part of the world and love to lay their eggs in the warm pockets of your dog’s fur. A dog with fleas will scratch itself all the time, and you might find black specs on its fur.

Ticks are commonly found in wooded areas. They can latch onto your dog’s skin and leave irritating wounds. They can also transmit Lyme disease to your pup, which can cause fatigue, loss of appetite, lameness, and pain.

A veterinarian or groomer can remove fleas from your dog with a flea bath or special medication. If you find a tick on your dog, remove it with a pair of tweezers and disinfect the area with rubbing alcohol. The best way to avoid fleas and ticks in the first place is to put your dog on preventative medicine. Frontline Plus is one of the best over-the-counter options.

Hot Spots

Dog licking its ankle.
Vet’s Best

Hot spots, also called acute moist dermatitis, are common in dogs. They’re characterized by red patches of skin that are itchy and painful. They’re also typically accompanied by hair loss and can appear anywhere on a dog’s body.

Hot spots are caused by excessive moisture that gets trapped on a dog’s skin after swimming, frequent licking, being in the rain, or being outside in humid weather. Small spots can be treated by trimming the fur around the area, which will allow the skin to air out and breathe.

You can prevent hot spots by making sure your dog is fully dry after he gets wet. This Hot Spot Spray can also help soothe the affected area.

Hormonal Imbalances

A Beagle getting his ear checked by a vet.
Ivonne Wierink/Shutterstock.com

Of course, a rash on your dog’s stomach can also be caused by an underlying health condition, like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. The former is an endocrine disorder that causes many bodily functions to slow down.

Cushing’s disease makes your dog produce too much cortisol. The two have very similar symptoms, including hair loss, rashes, lethargy, and changes in drinking and urination habits.

These health conditions will need to be treated by a veterinarian, so take your dog in if you notice any unusual changes in her skin, coat, or behavior. While you wait for your appointment, a high-quality multivitamin can help your dog maintain optimal health.

A red, itchy rash on your dog’s belly is never fun to deal with, but figuring out what’s causing it will help you treat it as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you keep up with regular vet appointments, keep your pup on a healthy diet, and make sure she gets regular exercise, she’ll be as healthy as possible, and you’ll be worry-free.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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