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Dog has black scabs on back, bumpy spots on side & "black dirt" on tummy

by Barbara
(Miami, FL)

Summer's Belly

Summer's Belly

Summer's Belly
Back - Scabs
Summer's side

My dog ummer and I moved here from Utah in April 2011. We have been struggling with fleas since we arrived. In the last month she has developed this skin condition. I am (of course) worried sick about her. She is a 4.5 lb Papillon. 7 YOA.


Right now - the ridge line of her backbone has dry scabby places all along it. Black scabs. Her side has bumpy spots with light scabbing. Her tummy has what looks like black dirt, but won't wash off. Spots and some scabbing.

I have tried many things to address the fleas and am worried that something I am doing is contributing to the condition.

We have tried Frontline - used twice total (could that cause the scabbing?). Haven't used for over 3 weeks.

Have taken her to the groomer a few times - don't know what shampoo they use. Once flea dip and once medicated.

Have used two shampoos myself. Sergeant's Toy Breed Flea and Tick Shampoo and Aroma Paws Luxury Dog Shampoo and Conditioner - chemical free, organic honey, colloidal oatmeal, pro vitamin b5 - sensitive skin formula; ... etc.

The house has been professionally exterminated along with the yard. My mother's house and yard (where Summer stays sometimes) have also been exterminated. She has two cats that do suffer from fleas.

Recently dusted the house with diatamacious earth - food grade. We seem to be ahead of the flea problem, but the skin condition is scaring me.

I have used aloe vera on her tummy to soothe the itching and redness. That seems to have helped a little.

She eats a high quality raw diet (Darwins) and is otherwise pretty healthy. I adopted her at the age of 4 and she was having severe tooth and gum problems, but we are well past that.

I don't really want to get going on injections of steroids, antibiotics and other harsh drugs, but I will if she needs it.

Comments for Dog has black scabs on back, bumpy spots on side & "black dirt" on tummy

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Jul 19, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Dog has black scabs on back, bumpy spots on side & "black dirt" on tummy
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Barbara,
If "ummer" (not sure if that is a typo or the correct spelling for your little Papillon) has had chronic flea allergy dermatitis for over one year, she has now developed 'pyoderma'--a bacterial inflammation in the hair follicles that forms a pimple which pops, and when it dries forms the black scabs. What you are calling 'black dirt' may be some mild yeast in the skin folds of her tummy.

You need to shampoo her with baby shampoo or oatmeal shampoo TWO times per week for the next 3-6 weeks. Following the shampoo, rinse her and dry her well, and apply Apple Cider Vinegar with a gauze or cotton swab to the dark areas on her tummy (It is ok to do this daily, if needed).

ALSO, she may need to wear a white cotton T-shirt when she sleeps, to prevent her from licking/scratching irritating her skin more.

It sounds like you are trying to control the fleas in the environment, but you might want to check our page on some more 'natural' house and yard treatments to control the fleas and larvae.

She is on a GREAT diet... continue Darwins RAW diet. Although, I am surprised that she has such a bad flea condition, considering she is on a raw diet, and you say, "is otherwise pretty healthy".

Fleas are parasites and are not attracted to healthy animals. They are found on weak, sick animals. Therefore, when I see a patient that has a bad flea condition, I am concerned there may be an underlying problem that I am missing.

You did mention that she had dental disease in the past. Is that all cleared up now?

In the one photo you showed of her 'tummy', are her mammary glands swollen, or is she just in heat? H

as she been over vaccinated?

Has she been checked for parasites in her stool and for heartworm? Living in Florida, fecals must be done every 6 months, and heartworm prevention MUST be given year round.

Perhaps a visit to a holistic veterinarian may help to 'fine' tune what I have outlined above. Or she may need to be on some immune system supplements. Immune support can be improved with the following:

1. Missing Link Canine Formula
2. Immuplex from Standard Process
3. OrthoMolecular Specialties, Mega C Powder

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO

Jul 19, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Dog has black scabs on back, bumpy spots on side & "black dirt" on tummy PART TWO
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Barbara,
Here is the rest of my response.

Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Jul 19, 2012
Thank you.
by: Barbara

Thank you so much for the prompt response. Her name is Summer...oops. Apparently there are mutant ninja fleas here as we both get bit and I'm pretty healthy too. ;-)

She has tested negative for heartworm and is on year round meds. I have a vet appt and will have them do a fecal check. Her mammary glands always look like that. She went into heat when I first got her and I had her neutered.

I will do as you say and let you know how it goes.

Again thanks.


Jul 19, 2012
My Online Vet Response for: Dog has black scabs on back, bumpy spots on side & "black dirt" on tummy
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Barbara,
Sounds like a plan. Please do keep us posted!

Please do keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Related Pages:
- Dog Skin Conditions,
- Dog Skin Rash,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Skin Rashes, Marks, Spots, Lesions & Patches (including itchy skin and mange) Section

Aug 07, 2013
I think my dog has this same issue
by: Stacy

Hi there,
My dog used to get red spots with white pustules on them on her belly. It was concentrated heavily on her belly for some time. I had her treated with an antibiotic and steroid on 2 different occasions and both times, the condition cleared up within days of starting the meds. However, as soon as the meds were gone the problem came back. But now she gets black crusty scabs all over the place...some are more crusty than others but when you scrape them off, they leave the crusty ring in the shape of the original scab. They don't seem to bother her at all, they are just unsightly and cause her to lose her hair in the infects spots. I will try your recommendation of 2 weekly oatmeal baths with apple cider vinegar treatment. Thanks.

Aug 07, 2013
My Online Vet Response for: Dog has Black Scabs on Back, bumpy spots on side & "black dirt" on tummy
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

August 7, 2013

Hi Stacy,

Thanks for your question.

Certainly the oatmeal shampoo is a start. But for a more detailed response to your question, I'm happy to help. Note that we only accept new questions from subscribers (the original question above was from a subscriber).
Please click here to sign up and submit your question and photos.

I'll then get back to you right away at the bottom of your newly created web page.

Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Sep 29, 2013
Same issue?
by: Nicole

I have a Maltese Terrier, which I considered rescued from a puppy mill. When I adopted him a 2 months old, he was the runt, with matted fur, and a horrible flea problem. I put him on advantix, and had him tested for mange on several occasions with NSF. I regularly do fecal examinations on him. (I am currently in a Vet Tech major and have access to a lab whenever needed) I have just found these black "specks" on the proximal portion of his tail, but no where else which I find strange. He is currently on Revolution, and is fed Natural choice light, I have taken a sample on cellophane tape to examine under a microscope tomorrow. I wish I could upload pictures in a comment, I have a very well detailed picture of these "specks" I also don't understand why none of my flea medications seems to completely solve his flea problem. (Advantix, Vectra 3D, Revolution.. even Capstar) when everything that was drilled into my mind in parasitology class was Selemectin in the best! I just want my poor puppy to stop suffering from his itchy skin. I bathe him at least 3x a month with a oatmeal based shampoo, and I groom him at least once a month. He is now going to be 4 in December, and still suffering from his itchy skin and possible flea infestation after i had thought i finally concord them.

I seen this post and instantly felt for "summer" and her owner. Knowing the struggle and aggravation of doing everything you possibly can and still not achieving a truly happy life for you beloved pet.

Sep 29, 2013
My Online Vet Response for: Dog has black scabs on back, bumpy spots on side & "black dirt" on tummy
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

September 29, 2013

Hi Nicole,

Thanks for your question. I'm happy to help, but we only accept new questions from subscribers (the original question above was from a subscriber).
Please click here to sign up and submit your question and photos. I'll then get back to you right away at the bottom of your newly created web page.
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Nov 26, 2014
Thank you!!
by: Anonymous

Congratulations !!!! This is my first time ever seeing this site, all I did was Google the same " black scab like line on my dog " and there wasn't a single relevant link except this one. Not to mention the natural remedy aspect of this site brings me the most pleasure I've ever had in regards to the longevity of my all white boxer and his brindle patch :) !! Honestly I feel like crying, can't thank you enough, keep up the good work - Anonymous young rich guy

Nov 27, 2014
My Online Vet Response for: Dog has Black scabs on back, bumpy spots on side &
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

November 27, 2014

Dear Anonymous,

Glad you found us! I hope that I am able to help you if your 'all white boxer with one brindle patch' has any health issues! If you need to find a holistic veterinarian that is near to you,

Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman


P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!


DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.




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