Skin Ulcers in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Skin Ulcers in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Skin Ulcers in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Skin Ulcers?

If your dog has an open sore, it is likely that he or she is suffering from a skin ulcer. These lesions usually indicate injury, infection, or disease and require an examination by a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. Treatment and prognosis varies depending on the source of the ulcer.

A skin ulcer is a deep lesion that can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from bug bites to cancer. Though the ulcer itself is not life-threatening, you should have a veterinarian examine your dog for underlying conditions, as skin ulcers are typically a sign of infection or disease.

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Skin Ulcers Average Cost

From 258 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$350

Symptoms of Skin Ulcers in Dogs

A skin ulcer is visible as a lesion that may be oozing or leaking. These sores can occur anywhere on the body and are typically accompanied by depigmentation or hair loss, as well as inflammation or redness around the wound. Your dog may exhibit different symptoms depending on the cause of the ulcer, including lethargy, loss of appetite, pain, and depression.

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Causes of Skin Ulcers in Dogs

Skin ulcers are lesions that affect deeper layers of the skin and result when the upper layer is compromised. These are a symptom of many different conditions and may occur for a variety of reasons, including:

Some breeds may be more susceptible to certain causes for skin ulcers, whether due to genetics, age, physical characteristics, or environment, though all dogs are at risk of developing these lesions over the course of their lives.

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Diagnosis of Skin Ulcers in Dogs

If you notice a lesion on your dog’s skin, bring your dog in to a veterinarian for a thorough examination. Be prepared to provide a history, including your dog’s recent activity, places you may have visited, and any additional signs or behaviors that are out of the ordinary.

As part of this examination, the veterinarian may conduct blood tests, take cultures of any fluids to identify the infection, and perform a biopsy of the affected skin. This helps determine the cause of the ulcer and discover any other conditions. Depending on the results, the veterinarian may recommend further tests, such as x-rays, ultrasounds, or urinalysis, which will reveal more information regarding the root cause of your dog’s skin ulcers and show the extent of the condition. This allows the veterinarian to determine the best course of action and prescribe treatment accordingly.

Monitor your dog carefully throughout this process. Even if your dog does not initially exhibit unusual signs beyond the ulcer, further symptoms may still develop over time. Alert the veterinarian immediately if you notice any changes.

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Treatment of Skin Ulcers in Dogs

Treatment varies widely according to the cause of the skin ulcer. Most lesions can be successfully treated at home, though the veterinarian may recommend hospitalization, depending on the underlying condition. In all cases, the ulcerated skin must be kept clean and free of pressure. The wound should be kept moist, as this allows sufficient blood to reach the area and enhances the healing process. You may want to ask the veterinarian about hydroactive wound dressings, which mold to the sore and keep the area moist without additional intervention.

If the lesion is the result of fungal or bacterial organisms, the veterinarian will prescribe medication to fight the infection. Any other conditions, such as cancer or burns, will need to be treated according to the veterinarian’s directions.

Treatment may need to be administered for several weeks as the wound slowly heals. During this time, you should monitor your dog for additional symptoms and to ensure that the skin ulcer is closing.

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Worried about the cost of Skin Ulcers treatment?

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Recovery of Skin Ulcers in Dogs

The recovery process may take days to months, depending on the underlying condition. Prevent your dog from biting or licking the wound, and do not allow your dog to swim, as this may lead to infection. 

You may need to bring your dog in to the veterinarian for a follow-up exam to check how well the lesion is healing, as well as to monitor any underlying conditions. The ulcer itself should heal with proper care, though the overall prognosis varies according to the extent of the disease.

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Cost of Skin Ulcers in Dogs

The treatment for a skin ulcer depends on the cause. However, most skin ulcers can be treated at home after consulting with a veterinarian. It’s important to keep the area clean to avoid infection. A soap made for sensitive skin, such as Cetaphil can be bought at most drug stores and can cost $3 per bar on average. The veterinarian may want you to use an ointment or cream to keep the area moist. Depending on the type of skin ulcer your dog has, an ointment or a cream may not be enough and may cause pain when applied. Check with your veterinarian about a skin care spray (such as Vetericyn) that can assist the healing process; keep it clean and avoid additional pain to the area. Vetericyn costs between $25 and $45 per bottle. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to help treat the skin ulcer if the cause is fungal or bacterial. Antibiotics usually cost between $40 and $200. The total cost and treatment plan will vary greatly if the cause is cancer or a burn.

Skin ulcers can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has skin ulcers or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Skin Ulcers Average Cost

From 258 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$350

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Skin Ulcers Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Pit Bull

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Thirteen Years

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8 found helpful

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8 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Wound

She has a huge area on her shoulder where the skin is just gone she didn't get hurt and it keeps getting bigger despite everything I have tried at home. I currently have her with a collar so she can't lick it. She has another small area in her armpit area where she scratched multiple spots open but those are healing now with the curicyn clay I am putting on her I don't know what else to do for her except take her to a vet but I've always done all my vaccines and everything myself so idk what they will try to charge.

Oct. 19, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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8 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear she has developed this lesion. A vet can absolutely help. She may have e.g. a cancerous lesion, fungal infection or bacterial infection. The vet will sample the skin and may prescribe e.g. antibiotics and pain releif.

Oct. 19, 2021

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American Pit Bull Terrier

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One Year

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11 found helpful

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11 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Hello my 1 and a half year old bully has had some sort of red swollen sore on is right leg that has been there for about 2 month I asked a mobile vet when he looked at it and said it was a common ulcer I think it a a infected ulcer from when he got out of his cage a while back but am unsure u have caught him and my other Bully licking at it and I am worried if it is something infected it could spread to my other dogs so any advice is greatly appreciated.

March 6, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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11 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. Without seeing it, it is hard hard comment accurately. It isn't normal for a dog to have a chronic skin lesion or ulcer and he needs vets treatment. It may be an acral lick granuloma from excessive licking or a decubitus ulcer from laying on a hard surface. A secondary infection could cause ooze and redness and requires a course of antibiotics. I do hope this helps.

March 6, 2021

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Skin Ulcers Average Cost

From 258 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$350

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