Last Modified on Apr 19, 2013
Does your dog have unexplained black spots here and there on its fur? Is there hair loss and irritation that might be causing your pet to bite and scratch itself to distraction? Have you tried steroid creams to no avail? Check into the conversation among Earth Clinic users to find out what might be causing your dog's black spots and how you might be able to naturally treat this condition.
Acanthosis Nigrans is one somewhat common condition in which a dog's fur can become greasy, clumped together, and begin to fall out. However, it may also be due to allergies, aging, or simply the changing seasons. Most often, the black spots appear on the abdomen.
If the black spots appear without any signs of irritation or a change in the underlying skin, most likely the condition is cause for less concern. However, if the skin become sensitive or other symptoms appear, a trip to your vet is probably in order.
Hydrogen peroxide and borax are among the most popular remedies to treat black spots on our dogs. What works for you and your pet?
11/10/2006: Kathy from Cullman, Alabama: "My dachshound has black spots that appear on her stomach in different places. What causes this?"Replies
Ted from Bangkok, Thailand replies: "Dear Kathy: The common cause of black spots on dogs, at least from where I live, is a fungus issue. Therefore, hydrogen peroxide 1% with saturated borax applied to skin, or 2% copper chloride helps. Again it is quite deep, so several applications may be needed."
[QUESTION] 01/17/2009: R from Yonkers, NY replies: "What causes these black spots? My dog has them too! She is constantly licking and bites at her skin. I have changed her diet and cook it myself and her ear infections have gone away, but I have noticed these black spots on her belly."
EC: One answer we found:
"...It is not uncommon for spots to be on the abdomen of dogs, but for them to appear there over time, can be due to age, allergies, change of season, ect. This is only a pigment cluster in the skin, and should be no threat to your dog's health. If the spots seem to be growing, changing in color, become raised or tender to the touch, I would recommend a veterinary visit to have this physically examined. As of now, I don't think you have anything to be concerned about. My Shih Tzu, Charlie, is only 2 years old, and has terrible allergies this time of year. Every spring, sure enough, he gets spots on "his lower belly. A lot of things can trigger a pigment change, so don't you worry!
11/13/2009: James from Orange City, Fl replies: "Clobertasol Propionate Cream USP,0.05%. This is a prescription cream I had to use, but it works on our dog. Check it out, works great."
02/22/2011: Bamatami from Pensacola, Florida replies: "Do the spots look like little black flea eggs? If so, they could be caused from Cushing's Disease. My dachshund was just diagnosed and had tiny black spots that looked like flea eggs all over her stomach."
06/26/2011: D Smith from San Diego, Ca replies: "Black Spots are signs of internal problems. My dogs skin was so bad at 18 months, the vet said she had maybe 2 years to live. He sighted extreme allergies. Its been 4 and she is healthier than ever! This diagnosis was wrong. What did we do?
Switch to high quality food (Dry or raw). Our vet said she should avoid chicken or beef... not true, just quality.
Some brands we have used with HIGH success:
Flint River Ranch
Have not tried but was told Kirkland premium brand from Costco was great too.
Expensive, yes (compared to Purina), but like I heard one doctor say. You can spend a little extra on food now, or spend a lot in health bills and low quality of life later."
05/26/2012: Diane from Conroe, Texas replies: "My min. Schnauzer has black spots on her back not belly. They are flat, black, seems to be getting more even noticed one on top of her head today. She is extremely itchy. We feed her good dog food. She eats Blue brand dog food by The Blue Buffalo Co. Input appreciated."
04/19/2013: Amanda from Norfolk, Virginia replies: "My 2 year old female #spayed# schnauzer began developing black spots on her back several months ago. They have now spread to what looks like an bird on her back and on the back of her neck. Where the black spot are she has lost all hair and the skin is thick and oily. We visited the vet for a full work up #$300# and she said everything was normal. We have her on Orijen. She does not lick, scratch, rub, or even act like it bothers her. I would like to stop the spreading because it looks horrible. Any advice?"
[YEA] 08/20/2009: R from Yonkers, Ny: "I just wanted to follow up on using the peroxide with borax for black spots. I read what Ted wrote plus what else was written about Borax on the other pages. I have been using it on my dog for the last two weeks and I am seeing results! The black spots seemed to have gotten worse with summer months and all the rain we have gotten around here. She started to lick her paws non-stop and biting at her skin. After the first bath using the mix I noticed that she wasn't licking as much and the brown color on the fur of her belly and paws seemed to have cleared up. The second week after her bath she started scratching less, licking less and the dry skin patches started to go away. I am still watching the spots to see if they will go away...but I haven't seen new ones which is great! Thanks EC!"Replies
03/04/2010: Ann from Paranaqye, Luzon, Philippines replies: "hi there. would like to know how your dog is doing now? were you able to get rid of the spots after the borax treatment? my pet had her first treatment last week and I am seeing results when it comes to scratching.. she isnt licking and scratching anymore. I am hoping the spots will go away too."
05/23/2010: Jean K from Tyler, Tx replies: "Would like to know the measurements for the borax and peroxide for bath of pet to stop itching and black spots on stomach."
EC: Measurements here: http://www.earthclinic.com/pets/dog_mange_cure.html#TED
08/11/2010: Rosemarie from Yonkers, Ny replies: "Hi Ann, Sorry I haven't checked in awhile. She is doing much better. I didn't continue it because of the winter season, but when I had the smell, bad skin and itching stopped. I just recently started checking again for her paws. She is constantly biting and licking them. I do think it is some sort of fungus that has overgrown in her body. Now it seems to have been brought into check!"
11/22/2010: Carolyn from Winston Salem, Nc replies: "My lab has yeast , skin smells bad, damp and all of his belly skin has turned black and crinkly.. Constantly biting and gnawing.. Antibiotics help some but always comes back.. Any suggestions or treatment?"
11/25/2010: Gina from Iuka, Ms replies: "Carolyn, Try Tree of Life kosher organic expelled pressed coconut oil. I get it at the health food store but you can also find it on amazon.com I have a yorkie(9lbs)and I give him 1 teaspoon a day in his food. I also rub it on his skin on any breakouts- it dries them right up. Most antibotics cause yeast. For immediate relief from itching try liquid benadryl 1 to 2 mg per lb. It could be allergies and you will have to change diets."
10/29/2012: Tracey from Locust Grove, Georgia replies: "Hi, I have a golden retriver and she has black spots on her abdomin. They are different in size and her abdomin has an oily feel and she always smells really bad. Her abdomin is also red and bumpy. I was told it was allergy related but she has it all the time and you would think if it were allergies that it would go away at some point! Do you think this solution will help, I have researched this and found that omega fatty acids would help. Are you familiar with this? Thanks traceyisrael(at)aol.com"
10/30/2012: Wendy from Columbus, Oh/usa replies: "To Tracey from Locust Grove, Georgia:
1) Change your dog's food to grain-free. Do this gradually. This means, if you normally feed your dog 1 cup of food twice a day, change it to 1/2 cup old food and 1/2 cup new food twice a day for a week. Then, if there are no problems, then switch over completely to the new food.
2) Add 1 tablespoon organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with "the mother") to her food and mix it all up.
3) Follow the mange remedy recommendations here on earthclinic.
4) Do NOT feed your dog anything but her dogfood. This means NO people food at all.
These are the basics. Again, please do your research and search this earthclinic site for remedy recommendations. The answers are here."
11/18/2012: Barney's Mom from Palmyra, Pa replies: "Thrilled to see some of the posts regarding other's dachshunds. I have a standard that has had the allergy patch test and is allergic to most everything growing outside including dust mites inside, but not flea bites, cat dander, mold or regular house dust. He has been eating a high quality kibble and also grain free wet food and now raw food made by myself with supplements from Dinovite and I also add an extra probiotic 2 x's a day because I think he is yeasty. His belly is covered with the black spots and red pimples and is anus area is also black and has some hair loss and crusting on his tail too. Also on his hind legs and sides and neck area. It is actually almost all over his body. His eyes also have a small amount of mucus at times too. I always wondered if this could be some kind of hair follicle issue as well as inhalent allergies and ingested food allergies. Barney is the product of a "backyard breeder" and I have his AKC pedigree where I learned his mother is also his sister, hence, the inbreeding factor which probably contributed to all his allergies and also his malformed bottom jaw. It has been an ongoing and ever growing problem fighting to keep him comfortable for the last several years. He is on a small amount of Temaril-P everyday to help control his itchiness. Everytime I try to wean him off of it, the rubbing and skin irritatations increase dramatically. I will try the witch hazel and other remedies mentioned in all these posts."
[YEA] 06/24/2010: Deelee from Kingman, Az: "Hi. One of my mini-doxies has had darkened skin and black spots for years. The vet diagnosed severe seasonal skin and inhaled allergies and gave us a steroid-based cream for the itching; later a topical spray. (The steroids made her fat and overgrown). I tried oatmeal baths, etc. Nothing worked for more than a few hours. In desperation one day I soaked a cottonball in witch hazel astringent. The greasy stuff crystallized and rolled off, the itching stopped, and the skin lightened. I used 5 balls, all of which turned brown. My dog's condition is most likely a thing called Acanthosis Nigrans. It is caused by an overpopulation of a natural and essential mite that lives in the follicle of every hair shaft on a dog. This mite is supposed to be there, and not eradicated comepletely, but N.A. is a situation similar to Candidiasis (yeast infection), where the proper balance of a symbiotic organism is out of whack and overpopulation causes severe problems. A.N. is a common inherited problem in Dachsunds, and supposedly untreatable except to keep the dog clean and avoid allergens. Rubbish - the witch hazel works for days at a time. Apply once or twice a week. If the astringent contains alcohol, be careful around open sores. Make sure your dog lies on its back and watch him until the witch hazel is dry. It should not be ingested (swallowed). I suppose you could then bathe the dog to avoid poisoning but my dog completely quit her licking immediately. Acanthosis Nigrans symptoms are: the skin on the belly and chest has turned dark, some places appear black, with hair loss; the skin in 'armpits' and other depressions and folds has thick, greasy dark-brown clumps gluing the hairs together, and the skin itself has thickened. 'Pimples' and reddened skin or sores are secondary infections from the poor animal nibbling and licking so much and the moistness causes fungus and dirt collection."Replies
09/25/2010: Krista from Levittown, Pa replies: "I just read your email and am so grateful to have read this. I own a mini doxie and he has been having the same problem with black spots and itching and licking. Thank you for the info, it helps alot, so glad I saw your email. Hope your doxie is doing well.."
10/16/2010: Bb from Atlanta, Ga Usa replies: "Sounds like a fungal/yeast infection. My doxie used to get this. Get him/her off commercial food. No grains, sugars or starches. Use organic coconut oil, add to food & topically. Start with ground meats, fish, chicken... All raw. Add probiotics."
01/30/2011: Louria from Columbus, Ohio replies: "My Chihuahua has the same problem, she is 11yrs old. I will try the Witch Hazel, thanks!"
06/09/2011: Veronica from Lansing, Michigan replies: "I have a yellow lab pit bull mix she carries most of the yellow lab characteristics. She is two years old and just in the last month I have noticed she is losing hair on both her sides the right side is a lot worse though. It looks very black I took her to the vet and she said that her annul glands were swollen and impacted so she flushed them out and told me that should fix it? Idk if they were or not but she does not have an issue using the bathroom so find that hard to believe. I have not seen her itching her sides at all. I did see someone above wrote about their dogs biting there feet though and she does do that a lot which I also told the vet. Where do I find this Witch Hazel and how much do I use. What about the Borax treatment mentioned above has anyone tried both does one work better then the other. Both are safe for my baby?"
10/30/2011: Suefl9 from Pembroke Pines, Florida replies: "Hi, My mini dauschaund developed black spots on her belly and then under her arms, after about 2 weeks she then broke out with pimples covering her body and started to lose her hair where the pimples were. I took her to the vet and they said she was allergic to her dog food. The pimples were a secondary skin infection from the scratching/biting. We changed her to "Hills Z/D prescription diet"(gotten thru vet) with only cheerios as a treat. She gets bathed with Douxo shampoo once a week and the problem was solved. I was told her former food "Pedigree" was the worst offender with all the additives and fillers. The food and shampoo was a little high priced but worth it! Last vet bill was $200."