Should my dog have a pink belly? A Step-by-Step Guide

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Rashes on a dog’s belly may look alarming and uncomfortable, but they are quite common. These dog belly rash bumps and redness you see can have a variety of causes, from a simple bacterial skin infection to a more serious underlying condition, such as Cushing’s disease.

If left untreated, your dog’s belly rash could develop into an unpleasant skin infection that will require veterinary care and cause your dog discomfort.

Here is what you need to know about your dog’s belly rash, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available.

Your dog’s skin protects his body from the outside world, acting as a barrier between his internal organs and harmful organisms. We might think of skin as being tough and resistant, but it is actually very sensitive to changes in both your dog’s body and the environment.

One of the ways the skin shows this sensitivity is through rashes.

There are several causes of rashes in dogs:

  • Skin infections
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Allergies (which many times are genetic)
  • Parasites
  • Genetic
  • Hormonal imbalances and endocrine conditions
  • Environmental causes (such as poison ivy or other plants)
  • Sometimes cuts can open the skin barrier to infections. Many of the causes of rashes in dogs are the result of bacterial, fungal, or yeast infections.

    Bacterial skin infections are called pyoderma, which translates from Greek to “pus” and “skin.” Pyoderma typically causes lesions that look like pimples and can also cause crusty, dry, flaky skin. Hair loss and itchiness can also occur.

    Your dog can get pyoderma as a result of trauma to the skin, like an abrasion or cut, excessive moisture, or as a secondary condition. Puppies are prone to puppy pyoderma in areas without a lot of hair, such as their underarms and groin. Hereditary factors can also play a role in skin infections for both puppies and adult dogs.

    Fungal infections, such as yeast infections and ringworm, are also common. Yeast dermatitis is a skin condition caused by yeast infections. It is also known as Malassezia dermatitis and is caused by the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis. Symptoms of this condition include thickened skin; changes in skin pigmentation; a musty smell; itching; redness; scaling, crusty, flaky skin; and chronic ear infections.

    Ringworm is characterized by circular lesions, which can appear red and scabbed. Hair loss is common, and while these rashes are usually not itchy, they can become inflamed, and the condition can be passed to people and other pets.

    Allergies can also cause rashes on your dog’s belly. Environmental allergies, like contact dermatitis or reactions to something on the ground like fertilizer, cleaning products, poison ivy, or other irritants, flea allergy dermatitis, and food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerance can lead to itchy bumps and rashes. When your dog itches and scratches, he opens his skin up to infections, which can lead to a rash or complicate an existing rash.

    Allergies can have a wide array of symptoms, from digestive upset to skin conditions such as itchiness, hair loss, redness, irritation, and chronic skin infections. Talk to your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog might have an allergy.

    Pests and parasites could also be the cause of your dog’s rash. Fleas, mites, and ticks can cause irritation, exposing your dog to bacteria, yeast, and fungal infections. Demodex mites, walking dandruff, flea allergy dermatitis, and sarcoptic mange (caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite) can all cause rashes on your dog’s skin, including her belly and groin area.

    Golden Retrievers, for instance, can get a rare condition called congenital ichthyosis, which causes scaling of the skin on the abdomen. Arctic breeds, for example the Samoyed, can develop zinc-responsive dermatosis, and Cocker Spaniels are prone to primary seborrhea (dandruff).

    What is cyanosis?

    When there is not enough oxygen being carried to the body by the red blood cells, the skin and mucous membranes (e.g., the gums) can turn a bluish color. This is known as cyanosis. There are several different conditions involving the cardiovascular/circulatory system and/or the respiratory system that can lead to cyanosis. Treatment will depend upon the underlying reason for the low oxygen levels.

    What are some causes of cyanosis involving the circulatory system?

    Some dogs are born with defects or abnormalities in the structure of the heart and surrounding blood vessels. Blood with low levels of oxygen may be shunted from the right side of the heart to the left, mixing with blood that has high levels of oxygen, which reduces the oxygen level before the blood is pumped out to the rest of the body. These structural abnormalities include patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), ventricular septal defect (VSD), atrial septal defect (ASD), tetralogy of Fallot, abnormal return of blood from the lungs, and abnormal opening of the heart valves.

    Some dogs will develop circulatory abnormalities that can lead to cyanosis. These acquired conditions include:

  • degeneration of the heart valves
  • deterioration of the heart muscle itself
  • accumulation of blood or fluid in the sac surrounding the heart (the pericardium)
  • blood clots in the lungs
  • high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
  • destruction of the red blood cells by the body’s own immune system (immune mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA)
  • shock
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