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What Would Cause My Dog’s Stomach to Turn Black?

What Would Cause My Dog's Stomach to Turn Black

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One night I was cuddling with Rodrigo, doing the combo “I love you, puppy” – At Home Exam – rub and I noticed that his tummy was really dark.  It almost seemed black.  I rolled him over more, reassuring him what a sweet baby he was while ignoring his confusion, and got a good look.  Yep, his tummy was definitely darker; a lot darker.

What would cause my dog’s stomach to turn black?

I parted his hair in various places and saw healthy, pink skin.  I then checked Sydney’s tummy (darker, but not as dark as Rodrigo) and Blue’s tummy, a bit darker – but by now, I’m wondering if I’m just seeing things.

What would cause my dog’s stomach to turn black?

I did what our veterinarian taught me; I listed all the facts.

  • The dogs weren’t itching or licking excessively
  • The dogs’ diet hasn’t changed
  • The dogs weren’t sluggish or listless – they had 3 crazy play sessions that afternoon with us
  • The dogs behavior and body (besides the tummy) was otherwise unchanged
  • Since two dogs had darker tummies, I was leaning towards age (Rodrigo and Sydney are siblings)

Google is helpful and harmful and whenever I start doing Google research, I try and keep a clear head until I speak with the veterinarian, because, like I found with WebMD, everyone is dying of cancer.

When it comes to researching health issues online, I implore you NOT to click on sites that say “forum.”  Each one I’ve been too has given me tons of dog parent contributions that are the worst case scenario and they freak me out.  Instead, I look for actual dog health sites to learn more.  My favorite is eHow.com.

Things that can cause a dog’s tummy to turn black…

Fleas:  You’ll see flea dirt (remains of flea feces and dried blood) on their tummy.  For their entire tummy to be black, you have an infestation that is crazy.  We use Wondercide products, they’re natural and don’t have any harmful side effects.  Our dogs have never had fleas.

Canine Black Crusty Skin: A disorder that result in darkening of the skin and hair loss caused by abnormally low levels of growth hormones.  This has to be diagnosed by a veterinarian who will run tests and recommend treatment.

Canine Black Skin Disease: Caused by a hormone imbalance, genetics and allergies.  This has to be diagnosed by a veterinarian who will run tests and recommend treatment.

Why Rodrigo and Sydney’s tummies turned black…

Age.  I called the vet the next day, let them know that nothing else has changed (diet and behavior) and by then I had noticed that the skin wasn’t completely black; it actually was just darker – it seemed black, because of the lighting the evening prior.  There were also big splotches of pink on their tummies as well.

The veterinarian assured me that this is just normal for some dogs; their exposed skin gets darker as they get older (Rodrigo and Sydney just turned 3 years old).

Update: the dogs continue to be fine and the color of their tummy changes slightly all the time.  For Sydney, who has more tummy skin exposed than her brother, I’ve started adding aloe vera and a cream by Dr. Harvey’s that soothes the skin when it gets irritated by fresh cut (or too long) grass.

The products I recommend to better care for your dog’s tummy skin are:

23 Comments

  1. Ah yes, I remember we used to hate it when people googled crazy stuff on the internet when I was working at the vet clinic lol. First thing I though of when I read your concern was exactly what your doctor said! Fortunately, I don’t google much about the pets, unless it’s to refresh my memory. I do have a problem with myself however lol…

    Reply
    • I know, my doctor banned me from WebMD a few years ago, because I kept calling her with health scares. I’ve learned not to tell my vet that I found it online unless she asks directly – I think she knows. We have two vets and they know that I’m a blogger, which has really changed our relationship, because they know that I’ll do research so they’ll actually write things down for me or set aside time for a phone call.

      Reply
  2. Glad that all was well with the darker tummies. They say “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and so it is, with Google. 😉 I try to stick to legitimate medical sites for health issues. When our Dalmatian was first subscribed Tramadol for her arthritis, (she was 14 at the time), I checked online and it said it was an addictive opiate, which made me a little nervous. The vet was very good though and gave me several printed out sheets of info direct from a veterinarian site that said how much good it was doing for senior dogs who were suffering from this pain. It really did help her tremendously! Back to the subject of changing skin colour: We had a little blonde dog once, with a pink nose. As she got older, the nose turned darker and developed age spots. They were cute; looked like freckles. :-)

    Reply
    • Sorry; meant prescribed, not subscribed. Too early in the day. LOL

      Reply
    • Yep, Google can be a dangerous thing. I’ve learned to use it to help me shape questions for when I speak with the vet so that our time is informative. But I have to stop going to it unless I go to a reputable site – those forums are killers!

      ~ Kim

      Reply
  3. SlimDoggy’s mom is a librarian…so this is a subject near and dear to her heart. Google is NOT a Vet (or doctor, or lawyer, or therapist or plumber or any of those things), but many people treat it that way. It does have many good and valuable assets -personally, I’m on it 10X a day. But throughout my career, (even though I never worked in an actual library) I have learned to sort out a reliable source from a ‘FORUM” (love that you caught on to that scam). Always try and check the actual source – is it a real person? And does that person have any credentials to speak on this subject? If I gave advice on plumbing on the internet, how stupid do you have to be to take it? Use Google yes, but use the filter god gave you to know what’s real and what’s a mosquito bite. Great post BTW.

    Reply
    • Thanks! Yep, Google made me realize that I can use it to develop questions for our vet, but not to replace our vet a while ago, but it’s so tempting to run to the internet first. If I’m worried, I have to keep the computer off, because it seems that I attract sites that give me the worst news.

      ~ Kim

      Reply
  4. Oh the Google… I learned long ago that the information you find on Google is only as good as it’s source. When I google health information, I try to stick to .edu sites and actual studies. I’m glad everything is ok though!

    Reply
    • Such a great reminder! You have to laugh at how dark things get so quickly for a simple query. I’m sorry for the pet parents who are dealing with the intense illnesses, but I saw people being attacked for not immediately going to the vet for a blemish.

      Reply
  5. Well, I think that firstly, regardless of other tools used, a head should be employed … meaning, “can my dog really be at the death’s door from some Andromeda strain, while appearing perfectly healthy?”

    Over the years with Jasmine, I learned to get a feel for how serious things might or might not be. And if I felt they were really serious – that is not time to waste Googling. It is horrifying how many people get on the internet when they should be burning rubber on their way to ER instead …

    I use internet all the time, for many things. My main rule, though, is that I don’t look to Google for answers, I merely look for questions.

    Reply
    • You are so right. My thing is to take deep breaths and analyze their behavior. I know which questions our vet will ask so I get prepared for them; just that practice slows the heartrate and allows me to take Google with a grain of salt.

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  6. When Casey, an English Springer Spaniel rescue, has a problem, I do a search on Bing. When the results come up, I look for eHow and I also look for a response from a professional medical organization. Once I have some facts in mind, I post on the Springer Spaniel Rescue message board. While sometimes worse-case scenarios are discussed, and someone is always going to recommend a call or visit to the vet, there is often good, practical info from this group of experienced dog owners.

    Ultimately I consider all this info and then decide what is best for Casey. Because, when all is said and done, I AM the Mom.

    Reply
    • Yes you are and that’s a great tip. I’m learning to look for eHow and PetMD too!

      Reply
  7. This wasn’t exactly a dog health issue, but the principle is the same.

    When I had to fly Archie from Canada to Amsterdam, I Googled everything I could about flying a dog to Europe. I needed to know about government regs, vaccinations, flight safety precautions, etc. But instead of facts, all I came up with were a bunch of crap forums with illiterate people claiming they’d never fly their dog anywhere because it was so dangerous or relating stories of some friend’s dog that had been killed in cargo. It was AWFUL and really freaked me out.

    Reply
    • You’re right; the same principle. What’s amazing is that logically, I know that I shouldn’t look – if I click the link and it has that forum look, I need to click off, but sometimes it drags you in like a reality TV program. Awful.

      Speaking of which – I need your business card. You’re going to be my go to person should I need to fly our dogs anywhere. Will you be at BlogPaws?

      ~ Kimberly

      Reply
      • Yes, exactly like reality TV!

        No, BlogPaws isn’t in the cards this year I’m sorry to say. We’re deluged with ebook projects right now and I just can’t take the time. You going?

        If you need anything, you know where to find me…at http://ramblecrunch.com or http://ebookdesignworks.com. Either one. Plus you’ve got my email. :-)

        Cheerio!

        Reply
        • Have fun with the eBook projects! I want to write more, but I’m taking a break for at least a month and then I’ll be at it again! Fingers crossed. Yes, I’ll be at BlogPaws. Pretty excited :)

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  8. Great story, Kimberly! Google, WebMD, Ask.com, etc. are ok for general information, but reading the comments on the forums just gum up the works. Consider the sources! When I have questions about my dog’s or my health, I do a little research and then ask the Vet or Doctor. There is so much junk information out there, and the older I get, the more I realize that you can’t believe everything you hear/read. Cynical? I can live with that.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Deena

      One of the things I love about being a blogger is that I know this stuff, because I see it every day. There’s a benefit to being on Facebook a lot – LOL

      Reply
  9. I can totally relate to the panic feeling! Especially when they come up with these odd symptoms. I’m glad to hear it’s nothing serious! Love your writing style.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Kristen. Ever since we lost our puppy last year, I got a little over zealous about their health, then being a pet blogger doesn’t help, because of all the research I do. Yep, I’m taking lots of deep breaths around here – LOL.

      Reply
  10. Hi Kimberly – as a new reader to your blog I though I’d just hop on and leave a quick comment here to say I’ve been reading a few posts and enjoying them very much. Cheers! Shaun

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Shaun – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that!

      Reply

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