Google isn’t a Vet | What Would Cause My Dog’s Stomach to Turn Black

What Would Cause My Dog's Stomach to Turn Black


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?

Deep breaths

Then I went to the dog nutrition guide aka Google and looked “my dog’s tummy is turning black.”  My dogs are dying.

Deep breaths.

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.

Back to the dogs…

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

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.

If you’re looking for a quality flea & tick repellent, check out Wondercide products.  I like their flea and tick spray and shampoo bar.

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 I was looking at their tummy in the shade of a lifted leg.  There were also big splotches of pink still.

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).  Now that I had calmed down, I did recall that it has been gradually getting darker.

The dogs will live!

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: GNC aloe vera skin gel and Dr. Harvey’s organic healing cream


  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…
    Ann Staub recently published..Wordless Wednesday: Rat NapMy Profile

    • 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.
      Kimberly recently published..Raw Food Diet for Dogs | Our Thoughts After 2 Weeks of Feeding RawMy Profile

  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. :-)
    Debbie recently published..WORDLESS WEDNESDAY; HAPPY HOUSE GUESTSMy Profile

  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.
    SlimDoggy recently published..Wordless Wednesday 5-8-13My Profile

    • 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
      Kimberly recently published..Raw Food Diet for Dogs | Our Thoughts After 2 Weeks of Feeding RawMy Profile

  4. 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.
    Jana Rade recently published..Baby, I Miss Your FaceMy Profile

  5. 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.

  6. 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.
    Renee — RambleCrunch recently published..So what’s next?My Profile

  7. Great story, Kimberly! Google, WebMD,, 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.
    Deena O’Daniel recently published..Wordless Wednesday: Squirrel Terminator!My Profile

    • 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

  8. 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.


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