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?
Then I went to the dog nutrition guide aka Google and looked “my dog’s tummy is turning black.” My dogs are dying.
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.
Side story – my doctor has given me strict instructions to no longer visit WebMD, because for a couple of years I was going to the doctor 3x a year (instead of my usual 1x), because I diagnosed myself on WebMD. She assured me that I wasn’t that bad, because she had another patient that called weekly.
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 in my year plus of pet blogging 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.
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.