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My Dog Has Crusty Scabs on His Back: Causes and Treatments

My Dog Has Crusty Scabs on His Back: Causes and Treatments Featured Image

Dogs are generally healthy creatures but they are also curious and dirty. They will take any chance that they can to roll around in the mud, wander through dirty hiking paths, and chase other dogs at the dog park. So, when crusty scabs start to develop on their back, it can be tough to understand what in their life is causing it. Could it be something happening inside the home? Is it a problem caused by exposure to the outside world somehow? Following is a list of the most common causes of crusty back scabs in dogs that should help you more easily narrow down the culprit.

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What Can Cause Crusty Scabs

1. Allergies

Allergies can play a big role in the overall health of your dog’s skin. Unfortunately, there are multiple types of allergens that your dog could be susceptible to. Being aware of the different causes of allergies could help you figure out what type of allergy your pooch is suffering from. Here are various kinds of allergies your dog might be dealing with that could result in crusty scabs developing on their back.

Food Allergies

Dogs can have sensitivities to some foods that could result in skin problems like itchiness and scabbing. Some dogs don’t have any food sensitivities to worry about, but others are intolerant to foods such as wheat, corn, soy, eggs, chicken, and beef. Your veterinarian can help you determine which food is bothering your dog so you can avoid it and they can heal.

Environmental Allergies

Bee stings are an example of environmental allergies, which can cause serious reactions, from skin irritation to anaphylactic shock. Vaccines, tainted rainwater, and prescription drugs can also cause severe allergic reactions in your dog. They may have skin symptoms when exposed to an environmental allergen, but those symptoms would likely be accompanied by other symptoms, such as problems breathing, nausea and vomiting, and facial swelling. If an environmental allergy is suspected, your dog should be taken to the veterinarian immediately.

dog skin
Image Credit: Oyls, Shutterstock

Skin Allergies

Also referred to as allergic dermatitis, skin allergies can cause a dog to get itchy and crusty scabs on their back and in other areas of the body. Fleas tend to be the most common cause of skin allergies in dogs. When a flea bites a dog to feed on their blood, they release saliva into the skin, and some dogs react negatively to the antigens that are present in the flea’s saliva. A flea allergy reaction could cause intense itching, scabbing, and loss of hair along the back.

A blood test can be done by a veterinarian to determine whether your dog is dealing with a flea allergy. Treatment involves keeping your dog’s area and body free of flea infestations. Rigorous flea treatments and preventative measures likely need to be taken. Other causes of allergic dermatitis include mold and pollen.

2. Infection

Bacterial infections on the skin can cause itching, hair loss, dry skin, and scabbing if not treated. A bacterial infection is caused when a dog breaks the skin while scratching. The broken skin can allow bacteria to enter and create an infection. Fleas, ticks, and mites could cause excessive itching and create a perfect environment for bacterial infections to grow. Treatment includes cleaning the affected area regularly and applying topical antibacterial medications.

3. Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal problems can be caused by a host of different things, such as testicle or ovary abnormalities, thyroid and pituitary gland imbalances, and endocrine system inefficiencies. Hormonal imbalances can result in the loss of hair, itching, irritation, and scabbing. If left untreated, these symptoms could give way to serious conditions such as tumor growth and Cushing’s disease.

Hormonal imbalances can be corrected if caught soon enough. A veterinarian should be consulted at the first sign of skin problems, lethargy, digestion issues, or lumps on the body. Scratching and scabbing relief can be provided with the help of things such as warm baths, a humidifier, apple cider vinegar, and calendula.

4. Nutrient Deficiencies

Diet can have a serious effect on a dog’s skin and health. When there are vitamin and mineral deficiencies, skin problems can develop. Sores and scabs can occur, and the skin and hair can start to look limp overall. Skin that is in poor health can lead to other problems, like infections and parasites, over time. If your dog is developing crusty scabs on their back but has no other symptoms, there is a chance that their diet is not meeting their nutritional needs.

Your veterinarian can help you figure out which deficiencies they have and prescribe a regimen and diet that helps restore their nutrition to optimal levels. Supplements for dogs and fresh fruit and veggie snacks can help make your pooch feel better while waiting for the vet to come up with a solution for you.

vet treating dog skin disease
Image Credit: Oleksandr Lysenko, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

Many different things can cause crusty scabs to develop on your dog’s back, but luckily, they are all treatable in one way or another. Most of the time, treatment can be done at home without the help of a veterinarian. But other times, a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible. Hopefully, we have helped you make some sense of your dog’s scabbing problems and you’ll be able to correct the problem in no time.


Featured Image Credit: February_Love, Shutterstock