How to Clean a Dog's Scab

5 - 15 Minutes
1 Day


Your dog may have a healing scab or a scab as a result of a rash or sore. Some dogs tend to scratch until their itchy spots scab over. There are many reasons why your dog may have scabs such as food allergies, cuts, and injuries or even just a bad habit of scratching incessantly. If you notice your dog's skin is starting to scab over, you will need to keep an eye on it to ensure your dog does not continue to break it open and that the wound beneath the scab is clean. It may also be a good idea to try to understand why your dog's skin is scabbing and address that issue as well.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog is constantly scratching his skin causing scabs, then he's probably pretty uncomfortable with dry, itchy skin. If he has an injury that has scabbed over as part of the healing process, it's probably good to know that he may be feeling a bit better. Either way, keep a close eye on him as this scab heals to ensure it does not create a larger problem.

The Clean and Spray Method

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Pour warm water over the scabs. Allow the water to soak long enough to soften the tissue surrounding the scab and the scab itself.
Wet cloth
Keep a cool wet cloth on the scabbed area to add moisture to the scab. You don’t want to peel or pick the scab off, but softening the hard scab will help keep the surrounding skin from drying and becoming itchy.
Use an anti-itch and antibiotic spray on the scab once the tissue is moist and soft.
Apply topical
Apply a topical ointment to the scabbed surface. With an ointment, the scab will likely slough off on its own.
Keep moist
Try to keep the area covered with an ointment after cleansing. Once the ointment is applied, use gauze to protect the scabbed area. If this area is too large, consider applying an oil that is safe for your puppy to ingest in lieu of a topical antibacterial ointment. Coconut oil is greasy but will work to keep the area moist.
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The Natural Cleansing Method

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Rinse the scab
Rinse with warm water. Make sure it is not too hot. Rinse long enough for the scab to soften.
Add moisture
Depending on where the scab is located, try to soak the area in cool to warm water. If your dog’s scab is on his paw, you can simply soak the paw in a bowl of water. If it is elsewhere on his body, you may need to use a wet cloth and wring water out onto the scab to get it softer. Do not pick or peel the scab off.
Retain moisture
Apply coconut oil to the scab. Apply enough so it can soak in and keep the skin soft. Spread the oil out away from the scab a bit so the surrounding skin is moisturized as well.
As long as the scabbed area remains soft and not dry and crusty, continue to only apply the coconut oil. If the area becomes crusty again, rinse and moisten with warm water until softened before applying the coconut oil again.
Keep skin supple
Condition your dog’s skin all over by applying coconut oil to his skin each morning and night. Though coconut oil is safe for your pup to ingest, try to keep him from licking so it stays in the skin long enough to work. Coconut oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which can heal as well as assist in fighting the issues causing the scabbing.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Your dog’s skin has scabbed for a reason. It’s important to understand what is happening to your pup’s skin so you can treat the problem not only the scabs.
  • Scabs will become itchy as they heal. Keep your dog from scratching these areas by keeping the skin moist.
  • You can wash the area with a mild soap or gentle dog shampoo, but be sure to rinse the product thoroughly.
  • Scabbed areas can become crusty. Your dog is likely to scratch these areas more than others.
  • Healing your dog’s skin from the inside out might help with an ongoing skin condition.
  • If your dog is getting scabs often without explanation, talk to your veterinarian about possible allergies.
  • Skin allergies and food allergies can cause dry, itchy skin and scabs.
  • Avoid wiping off crusty scabs. Soften them with water or coconut oil and allow them to flake off on their own time.
  • Give your dog a teaspoon of coconut oil mixed with his food each day to help maintain softer skin from the inside.
  • Watch for swelling around the scabs.
  • If the scabbed areas appear swollen or red, apply a cold compress. Keep a close watch for building infection, which may require your vet’s assistance.


Scabs form as wounds and cuts heal. Most often, these scabs are a result of a healing injury. However, your dog can develop scabs as a result of scratching his skin too often or parasites dwelling in his skin. Cleaning the scabbed areas can help with healing, but more importantly, consider what is causing the scabbing and treat the problems so it doesn't continue to cause discomfort for your pup.

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