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Red to Purple Color Skin Underarm Area

by Bree
(Hillman, Michigan)

Dog Skin Condition Reader Question: My 2 year old pit bull has red to purple skin color under his arms. There is no itching. The skin actually looks like a severe burn. There are no sores, no oozing, only the look of a burn.


The vet thought it was an allergic reaction to grass, but we have had snow on the ground for several months and it is no better. We put corn starch on him to relieve any rubbing together of the skin. There is very little hair in this area, so we wondered if it was just chaffing. It is so red and now, purple in color. It doesn't seem to be painful, he doesn't lick or chew. Any idea as to what this may be, the cause and finally, what can we do for him?

Dog Skin Condition Editor Comment

Dear Bree,

Thank you for your question and sorry to hear about the canine skin problem that isn't going away.

Skin is the most exposed part of body to the environment, so there are many factors out there that can affect it. The symptoms you describe are not enough for confirming the exact cause, only a physical examination and testing can possibly explain the condition more precisely.

However, there are certain points you must discuss with your veterinarian. As you said, it has been snowing for several months. This might indicate that the dog skin condition is mild frostbite, which has similar symptoms.

Dog Frostbite has three different stages; the 2nd stage explains this condition with red to purple skin, which initially is whitish and develops to purple. At the end the skin gets reddish and becomes blackish and painful with time, it may take several weeks to months.

At this stage, no signs such as sores, itching, pain etc are noted. Frostbite mostly affects the extremities of the body, but excessive sweating under fore and hind limbs can cause mild symptoms to appear in these locations. Remember that the severity of the condition is related to the extent of your dog's exposure to cold weather and the immune status of the body.

If it’s the same as described, even a mild condition should be considered a medical emergency. Dehydration and constriction of blood vessels can end up with black skin and dead skin tissues, so it should be treated properly. In addition to the specific treatment prescribed, try some supportive remedies such as Skin and Coat Tonic which should help to maintain the strength of skin tissues. Natural products such as Immunity & Liver Support Formula will support the immune system of your dog.

Please stay in touch and let us know what diagnosis was finally confirmed by your veterinarian.




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May 05, 2012
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not frost bite
by: Anonymous

My small dog has the same issues, having sores under her arms that look like burn marks. However we live in Florida and I know it is not caused by frost bite what else could cause this problem

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