Why is my Pugs skin turning black? It can be shocking to turn your pug dog over and see that her once-pink tummy is now starting to turn black. What is wrong? What could be causing this? Is your dog in pain? What should you do?
In this post, we will talk about the most common reasons why a pug dog’s skin might discolor or turn black.
Why Is My Pugs Skin Turning Black?
There are several reasons your Pug’s belly can be getting darker, but the most common reasons are Hyperpigmentation, allergies, alopecia, skin infections, yeast infections, and old age. You may have no clue what any of those things mean, but I’ll cover each one individually below, so keep reading.
While it is natural for your mind to start racing with worry and fear because you love your pug, this won’t help your dog start feeling better. Unfortunately, Pugs are prone to skin problems and this happens to be one of them.
What will help is to contact your canine veterinarian to schedule an appointment immediately? Your vet can do an exam and testing to rule out serious causes and find the right treatment.
Now let’s take a closer look at why your Pug’s skin is darkening. Read this if your Pug’s coat looks brown and spends a lot of time in the sun.
Hyperpigmentation Can Cause Pugs Skin to Turn Black
Hyperpigmentation is the most common reason why a portion of your dog’s skin may start to darken or turn black. The term “hyperpigmentation” basically means “too much pigment.”
While hyperpigmentation is most common in dachshunds, it can happen with any breed according to Merck Veterinary Manual. Merck outlines two different types of hyperpigmentation: primary and secondary.
Primary hyperpigmentation is rarer. It is thought to be triggered by an underlying genetic disease.
Usually, dogs that have primary hyperpigmentation will start to show signs by the age of one year old. There is currently no known cure but it can be treated with medications.
Secondary hyperpigmentation is much more common and can show up in a pug dog at any age.
Dog breeds that have problems with allergies, skin infections, contact dermatitis, hormonal fluctuations or weight issues are more likely to develop secondary hyperpigmentation at some point in life.
The inflammation caused by these and similar conditions can trigger a pug’s skin to produce too much pigment. Other symptoms to watch for include these:
- Odor (not pleasant)
- Hair loss at or near the site of the discolored skin
- Skin thickening
- Signs of pain
- Fluid (discharge)
Secondary hyperpigmentation is typically curable with aggressive treatment. The most common treatment involves medication. It can take some time (months) for the treatment to work so it is important to be patient.
Treatment Of Hyperpigmentation in Pugs
Unfortunately, there is no real cure. However, there are some things that you as a Pug parent can do to manage the symptoms with medicated shampoos and steroid ointments.
If your Pug is dealing with secondary pigmentation, their skin will return to normal, once the underlying issue is resolved. You’ll also want to ensure that you treat any bacterial, skin infections or yeast infections that resulted due to the hyperpigmentation.
Aging Can Cause Pugs Skin to Turn Black
Another less well-known reason why a pugs skin may start to darken is the normal process of aging.
If your canine vet has tested your pug for skin conditions and the results are all negative, and if your pug doesn’t seem to be experiencing any discomfort, it may just be aging causing the skin to darken.
Hormone Changes Can Cause Pugs Skin to Turn Black
Just like with people, pug dogs can experience hormone changes throughout life. For example, if your pug is intact (not spayed or neutered) hormones may fluctuate just prior to breeding or coming into heat.
Even if your pug has been “fixed” (spayed or neutered) some hormones remain in the body and levels can still fluctuate. This is especially true as your pug gets older.
Hormone changes are known to cause skin darkening along with other symptoms. If your pug is female, increased estrogen is linked to skin darkening.
Other symptoms to watch for include these:
- Skin itching
- Fur that feels dry or brittle
- Ear wax buildup
- Changes to nipple size or shape
- Redness and inflammation
Skin Alopecia (Black Skin Disease) Can Cause Pugs Skin to Turn Black
Skin alopecia is a fancy term that means “your pug is losing hair.” But alopecia can also include a number of other symptoms, including skin darkening or discoloration.
Pugs are known to be susceptible to skin alopecia so this is more common in the pug dog breed. Alopecia can be quite uncomfortable for your pug and you may see him chewing or scratching at the affected area.
Here are some other symptoms to watch for:
- Hair loss that causes bald patches on the skin and gradually grows worse
- Redness and inflammation
- Scaly skin
- Scabs on the skin (often from repetitive itching or biting at the area)
- Lethargy and loss of energy.
Alopecia can happen anywhere on your pug’s body. Because there can be different triggers, including parasites, allergies and hormone issues, it is very important to have your canine vet examine your pug to prescribe the right treatment.
Yeast Infection (Black Crusty Skin) Can Cause Pugs Skin to Turn Black
Yeast infections are common in pug dogs because of their skin folds and floppy ears. These areas make great places for the yeast to hide and multiply.
When you suddenly see darker or black skin, this is a sign your dog might be developing a yeast infection. There’s a good chance that you’ll start to notice a distinct Frito Cornchip smell or cheese popcorn smell coming from that area.
Yeast infections can cause your pug a lot of discomfort, so it is important to move quickly to treat it.
In addition to skin discoloration or black skin, here are other common symptoms you can watch for:
- Tiny black freckles or dogs, especially on your dog’s belly
- Shaking the head or scratching at the ears
- Baldness near the tail or upper back region
- Foul odor
- Loss of appetite (always notable in a pug!)
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Licking or chewing at the feet and discolored hair on the feet
- Greasy fur
Also, if you notice that the symptoms seem to go away in cooler weather and reappear in warmer weather, this is a sign your dog may be suffering from yeast rather than simple allergies.
Treating Yeast Infections In Pugs
If you believe your Pug has a yeast infection, you’ll want to contact your canine vet, so they can test your pug and tell for sure.
They’ll likely provide you some type of medicated shampoo or antibiotics to help your Pug’s skin. This type of home remedy treatment will usually be applied 2-3 times a week and is usually sufficient to get rid of the yeast infection.
Final Word On The Darkening Of Your Pug’s Skin
Just like human skin changes as we age, so can your Pugs. Unfortunately, some dogs skin discoloration as they get older. With the right treatment, your Pug’s skin may return to normal.
Just know that it can take weeks for a dog’s skin to appear normal again, even with proper treatment.
References and Further Reading
Moriello, K., DVM, DACVD, “Hyperpigmentation (Acanthosis Nigricans) in Dogs,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2019.
“Pigment Changes of the Skin and Coat in Dogs,” Pet Coach, 2019.
“Skin Problems in Dogs,” Pug Village/Offleash Media, 2011.
Carey, G., “Alopecia: When Dogs Lose Hair,” PetCareRx, 2018.
“Let’s Talk About Yeast,” DERMagic, 2019.