Unexplained Rash

by Becky
(Gwinn, MI, U.S.A)

Reader Question on Skin Rash Followed by Suggestion From Our Vet

I have been discouraging my dog from licking his belly and genitalia because he has developed a rash. At first the areas were just red and I was able to apply bitter yuck/bitter apple so he wouldn't want to lick there.

He is about to turn three this year and is a redbone coonhound/beagle mix. I adopted him from a shelter and he was in excellent health/condition.

Last winter was when the rash started but soon after spring started his skin improved. Now he is back at square one only this time it is much worst. He has noticeable swelling and redness of the skin which is also weeping a sweet-smelling liquid. The area above his penis is so swollen that the skin looks like lips. I have also noticed that he does scratch more than usual (more frequently but not excessively) and that he has skin flakes. Are these two different skin conditions?

I don't have much for his medical history because I adopted him from the shelter a few years ago. He gets tested every year for parasites and each one has tested negative. He eats Ol' Roy dog food. He has been on Purina and also on Pedigree but hasn't had those brand dog foods for quite some time. I am taking him to the vet in 4 days. I have seen pictures of different dog skin conditions and I'm not sure which one resembles his the most.


Suggestion From Our Veterinarian on Unexplained Skin Rash

Hello Beck,

I’m glad to hear that you have an appointment with your veterinarian. It sounds as if your dog’s skin is in bad shape; he must be very uncomfortable. Many different conditions might be causing the symptoms you describe including allergies (to environmental triggers and/or ingredients in his food), parasites, bacterial or fungal infections, autoimmune diseases, and more. Unfortunately, it is usually impossible to diagnose these types of problems simply by looking at a dog’s skin because it tends to develop similar lesions no matter what the underlying disease is.

Your veterinarian will probably need to run some tests before he or she is able to determine what is going on with your dog. Oftentimes this process can take some time as the doctor will try to save you some money by running a few tests for common problems first, and then only proceed to more complicated/expensive tests if the initial results don’t provide answers.

Best of luck,
Jennifer Coates, DVM

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