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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19543
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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why is my bichons skin turning a pinkish brown color. She

Customer Question

why is my bichon's skin turning a pinkish brown color. She is l5yrs old
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 6 years ago.

Hi Sir or Madam,


What areas are turning this color?

Is she licking these areas?

How large are the areas?

Any scratching or hair loss?

Any odor to the skin?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi Jane,

The pinkish brown area started on her front paw. I do recall her licking that area. Now the discoloration has progressed up her leg and onto the back area. There is no odor and no hair loss.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 6 years ago.

Hi again,


Most likely this is caused by her saliva. Dog tears and saliva contain an enzyme that causes a chemical reaction on the hair turning it reddish brown. There are many products on the market to remove this. They are marketed as Dog tear Stain Removers. This discoloration is frequently seen around the mouth, on the paws and under the eyes. Other areas are places the dog can lick.


The website below has a different approach suggesting altering your dog's pH levels to prevent the staining which you may wish to look at.


There is also an antibiotic that your vet can prescribe called Tylan that has been shown to be useful to stop tears and saliva from discoloring a dog's coat. You will want to ask your vet about this.


Now there are medical conditions which can lead to skin discoloration such hypothyroidism and reoccuring skin dermatitis leading to thickening and discoloration of the skin. I hope this information is helpful to you.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
When you bring your dog for its annual checkup and they do the bloodwork, do they normally check for thyroid problems? The areas where she is licking I can understand will discolor but the areas she can't reach have that same color. Does that mean its skin dermatitis, and if so what can be doe for that?
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 6 years ago.



Vet's do not routinely check for thyroid problems unless symptoms are present. With thyroid problems we usually see some hair loss and possible change in behavior. With a skin dermatitis, we usually have an oder and itching associated with it. However, if the dog has a history of skin problems the skin darkens then as well. Two common ones are staph dermatitis or yeast dermatitis. Staph usually occurs on the lower regions of your pet and tends to have small pimple type bumps. Shampoo containing Chlorhexiderm and/or Oatmeal can help with this condition. Yeast typically shows as a greasy area that has a sweet musty odor. Sometimes the skin can become inflamed, darker and thickened due to itching. Yeast likes areas such as between toes, armpits and ears. Selsun Blue Shampoo can help with Yeast dermatitis. When shampooing, lather and leave on 15 minutes before rinsing.



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I guess it must not be thyroid, as she does not have any hair loss. Her behavior has not changed as well. Again there is not odor associated with the problem areas, nor is there any greasy or pimple bumps, although she does have bumps that I was told were skin moles that are scattered here and there on her body. Bichones, I was told tend to have allergies, could this be it. Do you think it will continue to spread over her back as she gets older?
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 6 years ago.



It might be dermatitis related to allergies, but they can occur without allergies. Anything that causes a dog to scratch can damage the skin and lead to a dermatitis. There is black skin disease as well, but usually there is hair loss associated with this as well.


You might also be seeing the start of one of these conditions and it hasn't progressed to the point of hair loss being present. If this was my dog, I'd try the selsun blue shampoo and the stuff for tear stains like angel eyes and see if that helps. If it doesn't seem to improve, then you will need to consult your vet so skin scrapings can be done .


One thing I failed to mention is that flea dirt can cause the skin to appear a pinkish brown as well though we usually see this in the areas where fleas are like armpits, abdomen and in front of the tail. Shampooing might rid the area of the color, but it will come back if the fleas are still present.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What do you mean when you say flea dirt, what does that look like. Wouldn't I be able to see the fleas, especially where the dog is white. Also, with reference to the black skin disease, does the skin turn black or a brownish color.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 6 years ago.



Flea dirt is how we refer to flea excrement which is mostly dried blood and is brownish until slightly wet and then becomes a pinkish brown color and can stain the skin. And fleas are very fast and you seldom really see fleas. To check for this, take a paper towel and wet it lightly. Rub it in the area and if you see pink on the paper towel, then fleas may be the cause. A good vigorous scrubbing with shampoo should remove most of it if this is the case.


With black skin disease it gradulally darkens and can start out brownish before going darker. But as I mentioned, there is usually hair loss associated with it as well.