Because dogs can’t communicate when they’re distressed or in pain, it’s not uncommon to worry if you notice your pup’s skin suddenly seems a little more pink than average.
If you’ve ever thought, “My dog’s skin is turning pink – what to do?” fret not! Depending on your dog’s genetics, age, and living environment, it’s perfectly normal for their skin to look flushed. You should only worry if a sudden color shift accompanies signs of infection, irritation, or inflammation.
As a general rule, healthy dog skin should exhibit the following characteristics:
- Your dog should have either black, brown, or pink skin.
- It should not show crusting, scaling, itching, white spots, black spots, inflamed areas, and hot or infected areas.
- The dog should have a lovely, shiny coat devoid of bald patches, hair breakages, dandruff, and fleas.
- The coat should be thick, although the thickness varies with the breed.
- Your dog’s skin should be smooth and free of lesions.
Tell-Tale Signs of Unhealthy Skin on Your Dog
If you notice excessive scratching, skin scabs, and pulling of fur accompanied by pink or red skin, it’s time to take a closer look. These are all indicators of a bigger problem.
- A poor coat with dullness or scurf may indicate an underlying skin illness
- Ear problems can be a symptom of skin problems
- If your dog keeps shaking their head or the ear has a brownish discharge, it may have a skin infection
- Skin changing to red, purple, yellow, or any other deviation from the usual pink or black
- Rubbing, chewing, or licking the skin
- Discharge of pus or clear liquid from the skin is a red alert for skin infection
- The dog’s skin feels greasy
- An unpleasant smell
- Your dog seems irritated or uncomfortable when you pet them
Most skin conditions in dogs result from parasites, allergies, and endocrine disorders. Let’s look at these common culprits:
Mites, lice, ticks, and fleas all love to burrow into your dog’s fur, feeding on their blood, skin cells, and sweat. These parasites can cause inflammation, itchiness, hair loss, and skin lesions. At-home treatments can eliminate most parasites, but vet intervention may be necessary in more extreme cases.
An allergy is the body’s hypersensitive reaction to substances like food, dust, fur, or pollen. The allergens enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, skin contact, or injection.
Allergies occur at any point in the dog’s lifetime. Some dog breeds are more predisposed to allergies than others.
If your dog is experiencing a skin allergy, you’ll notice:
- Scratching of the belly, ears, and flanks
- Chewing their paws and rubbing their face
- Inflamed, itchy, and dry skin
- Redness and swelling
- Lesions, patches, or bumps on the skin
- Darkened skin
- Hair loss
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, appears when your dog’s skin is hypersensitive to an allergen such as flea bites, food, pollen, mites, or dust.
Once the allergen comes into contact with their skin or they breathe it in, your dog’s immune system overreacts by sending a rush of white blood cells to the site. They begin attacking the healthy skin cells, causing inflammation and itchiness.
Contact dermatitis is a rash resulting from contact between your dog’s skin and a chemical allergen like those found in soaps, dyes, shampoos, and metals. Unlike eczema, the condition isn’t chronic and typically doesn’t itch.
Instead, it causes red, irritated welts and is usually quite painful.
Folliculitis occurs when bacteria become trapped inside a hair follicle. They look similar to pimples and tend to be painful and itchy. An untreated infection can spread, causing permanent hair loss.
Many dogs are sensitive to ingredients in typical dog foods, with wheat, soy, and particular protein sources standing out as the most common allergens. In addition to a skin response, your dog may experience other symptoms like stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Yeast thrives in warm, damp environments, making a dog’s skin the perfect hideaway for the fungus to take root.
If you notice that your dog’s skin smells like bread or beer, has thick, oily scales or flakes, and is causing severe itching, fungal dermatitis is the most likely suspect.
Impetigo infects puppies more often than adults. It appears as blisters on the stomach that crust over after bursting open.
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection. Look for a tell-tale bald spot in a nearly-perfect circle.
Dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, is a bacterial infection in the sebaceous glands that produce skin oil. You’ll notice persistent white flakes on their back, legs, and face.
Lupus is an auto-immune condition where the immune system fights the body’s cells. The manifestations are open sores on the paws, nose, and eyes. The sores are hard to heal.
Mange is an allergy caused by mites on the hair and skin. The symptoms include severe itching, redness, and hair loss on the legs and face.
You will need to visit a vet to find out the root cause of the allergy. Give the vet an entire history of the dog, including what times of the year the allergy appears. The vet considers all those factors in diagnosing the skin problem.
The vet may also recommend blood or skin tests to determine the actual cause of the allergy.
The vet will prescribe remedies to help control your dog’s allergy and ease the pet’s skin infection. The treatments may work alone or in combination with other medications. The remedies for skin allergies include:
- Food supplements
- Pet shampoos
- Therapeutic diets
- Dog-safe medications like topical treatments, steroids, or antihistamines
Diet plays a critical role in healing many skin infections in dogs. In particular, foods rich in omega-3 and fatty acids help reduce inflammation and itching related to allergic dermatitis.
If your dog’s skin turns pink, you do not need to do anything. Pink is standard for a dog’s skin.
However, dog owners must be alert to other changes in their skin since this may signal a skin condition. Attention to the dog’s skin condition is essential in getting appropriate treatment. Always seek your vet’s diagnosis and follow their treatment plan to help your puppy heal.