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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.

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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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Irish Terrier

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

I believe my dog is suffering from hyperpigmentation in the groin area. He does a lot of licking there, and gets hot spots during the summer. How can I treat this? (Sorry, not the best of photos. Just trying to illustrate the black spots in the affected area.)

Jan. 3, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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1 Recommendations

As you say, unfortunately the picture isn't very clear. Sometimes, pigmented patches are normal. Other times, we may be dealing with a lichenification (thickening and darkening) of the skin due to chronic infection / lick trauma. Another consideration would be a yeast overgrowth; you may also notice greasy fur and a musty smell. He likely has an underlying issues such as atopic dermatitis which should be looked into and treated. Many, for example, will need anti itch medicine prescribed by their vet.

Jan. 3, 2021

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Labrador Retriever

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hyper Pigmentation Of Skin

My one year old yellow lab (Tucker) developed a darker brown spot on his leg shortly after getting his rabies shot. He had no itching or irritation and was walking and running fine. The spot has grown into a large place on his leg now and upon shaving the fur off of that leg his skin is also discolored. Tucker is on a flea/ tick/ heartworm pill and was scratching some but we also added the dinovite to his regime and he seems to be much better. There is a tiny bump that looks as if it could possibly be a bug bite but again this place has been there for 8 months. He has seen the vet.

Oct. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I"m not sure what you are actually asking, but that is a large area of irritation 8 months later! I would be concerned about clotting or immune disease, but if your veterinarian has seen him and the dinovite is helping, that might be totally fine. I hope that that spot is smaller soon and he continues to do well!

Oct. 6, 2020

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Golden Retriever

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Four Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tummy Appears Bruised & Purple. No Known Trauma.

His tummy looks bruised.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That is a little concerning, and it is difficult to tell from the picture if it is normal pigment, or bruising. If it still seems to be discolored, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Yorkie

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Constant Licking Abdomen/Black Spots

My yorkie wont stop licking her breast she was lactating 3weeks ago. She's 8 yrs old 7lbs. Shes a virgin and she's never been spayed. I was wondering what's the black spots that's appearing on the area she licks?

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Unspayed female dogs are quite prone to breast cancer. If she is continuing to lick at that area, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 19, 2020

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Shih Tzu/mix

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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2 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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2 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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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

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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

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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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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

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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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

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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

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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