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What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation can be the result of many other conditions your dog has contracted. There is a primary and secondary type of hyperpigmentation and the primary type is usually evident by the time your dog is a year old. 

Due to hyperpigmentation being caused by other conditions, it may only be a minor issue compared to larger concerns you may have about your dog. It may appear that he has a skin infection, allergies and other primary conditions.

Hyperpigmentation is when your dog’s skin begins to darken and thicken in areas. The areas tend to be on your dog’s legs and groin areas. Hyperpigmentation is not a disease in and of itself, rather it is a reaction to other conditions.

Hyperpigmentation Average Cost

From 439 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Hyperpigmentation in Dogs

Symptoms discussed below will be of actual hyperpigmentation, not necessarily the underlying or other conditions your dog may be dealing with. 

  • Discoloration – The areas affected may be light brown to black in color
  • Skin changes – The impacted area may become velvety, rough, thickened and there may also be hair loss
  • Areas prone to hyperpigmentation – The groin and legs primary are impacted and will most likely be where you notice the changes 
  • Areas may appear red around the edges – This is due to a bacterial or yeast infection that is secondary to the hyperpigmentation and underlying issues and can spread to other parts of his body 

Types

Primary

 

  • Rare – Thought to be breed specific
  • Typically, only occurs in the Dachshund breed
  • Signs are present and obvious by the time he is a year old

Secondary

  • Very common among all dog breeds
  • Obesity (Labrador Retrievers, Pugs, Dachshunds, English Bulldogs, Cairn Terriers, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Rottweilers and more)
  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Allergies (Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Basset Hounds, Jack Russell Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Irish Setters, Yorkshire Terriers)
  • Contact dermatitis (Border Collies, German Shepherds, Dalmatians, Dobermans, Great Danes, Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Irish Setters)
  • Skin infections
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Causes of Hyperpigmentation in Dogs

The causes of hyperpigmentation vary greatly and are typically larger medical concerns your dog is experiencing. However as identified previously, there is a primary hyperpigmentation that Dachshunds are prone to.

  • Hypothyroidism – Up to 33% of dogs diagnosed with hypothyroidism showed signs of hyperpigmentation as one of their symptoms
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – Some dogs diagnosed with lupus 
  • Allergies – If your dog experiences allergies he may also develop hyperpigmented areas on his skin 
  • Malassezia – Is a yeast infection that often has hyperpigmentation as a symptom
  • Demodicosis – Is caused by a mite and is a lesser known cause of hyperpigmentation 
  • Pseudo-Cushing’s Syndrome – Is an endocrine disorder that is common in dogs middle age and older and can have hyperpigmentation as a result
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Diagnosis of Hyperpigmentation in Dogs

Diagnosis of hyperpigmentation is done by your veterinarian looking for the typical signs and symptoms of the condition. Your veterinarian will want to perform a full physical exam and history. Scrapings of his skin may be taken to determine any underlying causes such as parasites or infections. If allergies are thought to be the culprit, food trials may be done to attempt to isolate the cause of symptoms. 

No further testing should be necessary to diagnose the actual hyperpigmentation. However, testing may be done to ensure your veterinarian has identified the underlying cause of your dog’s symptoms.

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Treatment of Hyperpigmentation in Dogs

If hyperpigmentation is primary there is no cure. However, when caught early enough the symptoms can be managed via shampoos and steroid ointments. Other medications can be used as symptoms increase or get worse. In the event, there are any other infections, those will be treated as well as needed. 

When the diagnosis is secondary hyperpigmentation your dog’s skin will return to normal once the underlying issue is taken care of. It will be important to also treat any bacterial or yeast infections that he has as well as the hyperpigmentation. 

Antibiotics can be used to treat yeast infections and bacterial infections of your dog’s skin. Medicated shampoos may also be utilized to help your dog’s skin. Treatment is applied 2-3 times a week and the progress will be slow. Relapse of hyperpigmentation will only be high if the underlying cause of the symptom is not taken care of correctly.

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Recovery of Hyperpigmentation in Dogs

As identified above progress is slow and it can take months before your dog’s skin appears normal again. Your veterinarian will discuss any need for follow-up appointments for him. Most follow-up will be needed to continue treating the underlying cause of the hyperpigmentation.

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Hyperpigmentation Average Cost

From 439 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

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Hyperpigmentation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shih Tzu/mix

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Smell

My dog has only one patch of hair missing on his back leg on the side. Right away I took him in and they did tests and said it is caused by trauma? He is very smelly and has dark black to brown skin all over his body. This happened at the same time as the missing fur patch. No itching at all. No discomfort. Will a medicated shampoo at least help with the smell?

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There may be more going on now that may help give your veterinarian a better idea as to what might be causing the problem. Skin will smell bad if it is infected or if there is a yeast overgrowth, and that can be caused by parasites or allergies. Since the problem seems to have developed, it may be good to have a recheck with your veterinarian, as they can see more what might be happening now. A medicated shampoo would probably help, as well as antibiotics, anti fungal medications, or allergy medications, depending on what the problem is. I hope that he feels better soon.

July 21, 2020

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Ralph

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Chow Shepherd

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Anxiety,Brown Spots,

I have a chow / Golden Labrador mix he’s about 60 pounds. Golden color about six months ago we had him groomed and clipper down for the warm weather. when we did this he had brown spots all over his body ( never had the spots before?) as the hair grew back we didn’t notice the brown spots anymore just recently we had him clipper cut againand the brown spots are gone.

Aug. 7, 2018

Ralph's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Those spots may have been freckles, or a skin infection, and if they have resolved, that seems to be a positive thing.

Aug. 7, 2018

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Chippy

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Chihuahua

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pigmentation

My dog is 12 years old and diabetic. He has lots of dark spots, sores and skin peeling mainly on his belly and near his legs. What could be the cause and is it treatable?

Aug. 3, 2018

Chippy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Skin colour changes (hyperpigmentation), sores and other issues may be related to the diabetes; however without examining Chippy I cannot say for certain and would recommend that you visit your Veterinarian for an examination to determine what other treatment may be required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 3, 2018

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Rusty

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Chiweenie

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hyperpigmentation

My 1.5 yo chiweenie’s stomach and groin area have changed to a very dark color over the last couple of months. He does not appear to be in any discomfort and is not licking any more than usual. If he is not bothered by it, does he still need to be seen by the vet?

July 25, 2018

Rusty's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are many different causes for pigmentation of the skin which in some cases may be considered normal or may be part of a disease process; allergies, hormonal conditions, infections, repetitive itching among many other issues may cause a change in skin colour which is why it is important to visit your Veterinarian to determine whether the colour change is a symptom or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2018

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Oliver

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German Shepherd Border Collie

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Licking
Scratching
Black Skin
Chewing
Itching,
Yeast Infection
Irritation On The Upper Belly

My dog has been experiencing a full body yeast infection for the past two months. I've been using coconut oil and feeding him grain-free food. It seems to be helping some areas and hair is growing back, and in some areas the black skin he had is fading/flaking off and becoming more smooth and the skin color is going back to normal. I constantly bathe him and every three days I use an anti-fungal anti-itch shampoo. However parts under his belly area and knees get really red and irritated randomly. He likes to rub on me and furniture which causes his skin inflammation and redness. I just gave him a bath and his upper belly/chest area is extremely red, it looks raw and moist. So do his knees. Under parts of his fur he has tiny red spots that just developed. I don't know what could have caused this and I also don't know what treatment would be effective in healing these remaining spots. I've been told that Nu-stock ointment for animals is a very good remedy, but it has a nasty sulfur-acidic smell to it. I need help!!

July 2, 2018

Oliver's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There are many causes for what you are describing, and often yeast is a secondary invader in these skin situations to another primary cause. Since this has been going on for so long, it may take a while for treatment to work, and he may need antibiotics, anti fungal medication, or treatment for parasites or allergies. Since I can't see him, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can look at Oliver, do any testing needed to find out what the actual cause is, and get any appropriate therapy for him.

July 3, 2018

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Ruby

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Pomeranian

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hyperpigmentation

Ruby is a diabetic, and has been for the past 2.5 years, i had noticed that her ears had gone from a vibrant pink to a dull grey, could this discolouration be an indication that her sugar levels are high? I havent noticed any discolouration anywhere else.

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Puggles

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Pug

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Smelly, Dark Skin, Crusty, Itchy

Hello I was wondering if you can help me. I have a pug that I believe to have a yeast condition and been advice to contact a Dermatologist. I’ve been to the vets number of times and still no answers. He smells and is constantly itchy and licking. I have attached some photos of his condition hoping I will get some advice/help also can I have a price list on how much it would cost please. Many thanks Lauren

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Milky

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Mini Dachshund

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hyperpigmentation

I started to notice my mini dachshund’s skin darkening around her tummy area about 2 weeks ago when she was just 4 months old, and now it seems like the skin at the top of her ears are darkening too. She doesn’t I don’t see her scratching her tummy but lately she does scratch her ears a bit. Is this something I should be concerned about? She seems to be in no discomfort and her skin still feels soft.

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Frankie

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American Staffordshire Terrier

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Hair Loss
Weight Gain
Hyperpigmentation

My Staffie is now 6-years-old. Since she was about 2-years-old, I noticed she is almost bald on her belly. About age 3 or 4, I noticed she started getting brownish and black spots all over her under belly and thighs. She also gained a lot of weight in a very short amount of time. I am taking her to the vet tomorrow morning for a wellness exam but what else shall I have them check? Hypothyroidism? She is also a very mellow dog, on the verge of depressed, maybe. Her bowel movements and urination habits are normal. She is not overly hungry, in fact sometimes she chooses to skip meals. She doesn't really engage in any play but loves to take walks. There doesn't seem to be activity intolerance if she is interested in the activity.

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Suno

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Tosa

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Scratching Chewing Licking The Air

My dog Suno started a yr ago with chewing his feet. Then ear infection. I have put him on a full fish diet. Using coconut oil antioxidants liver n kidney cleanse. He is very nervous anxiety. He has now started scratching his arm pits with hind legs. When I’m car it’s like he is licking the air n scratches armpit the same time. Still chewing his feet. Now pigmentation on inner legs. Please help

Hyperpigmentation Average Cost

From 439 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$500

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