How To Treat Scabs On Dog’s Skin

As a dog lover, you’ll want to treat your beloved family member with care and adoration. Even the tiniest of injuries like scabs on your dog’s skin or body can make you wince and sympathize with your furry friend. Your almost instantaneous reaction would be to research how to treat scabs on dogs to relieve pain and restore your pup’s health.

In this article, we shall look at different causes of wounds, abrasions, and other dog skin conditions your canine friend could be suffering from, including how to get rid of scabs on your dog’s body in a safe manner.

What Can Cause Scabs On Dog’s Skin?

When you cuddle your pup and feel something bumpy on the skin, your dog might be having a scab. Scabs on a dog’s body can be caused by anything. Before you panic, here are some common causes of crusty scabs on dogs:

  • Roughhousing with other pets
  • Nervous habits like biting themselves or excessive leaking
  • Parasites like ticks and fleas
  • Walking through sharp underbrush
  • Environmental allergies

A scab on a dog is an indication that the body is doing everything to heal itself from an injury naturally. It’s a natural bandage that keeps dirt and moisture away from the vulnerable healing wound. So, a scab on your dog’s skin is actually an important thing, but it may not always immobilize an injury by itself.

For humans, we can use crutches or put our arms in a sling to protect the injured area. But dogs will need all their four paws to balance and move around. Consequently, this can cause bad steps or unusual movements that can crack open a scab and expose the underlying wound to bacteria and infection.

And since dogs move much closer to the ground, all the dirt can get into the wound and cause more contamination and prolonged healing. Discovering a scab on your dog is a perfect opportunity to do something about the underlying cause and safeguard your pup’s health.

how to treat scabs on Your dog’s Skin

Your pup may have a healing scab or a scab resulting from a rash or sore. Some dogs, however, have the bad habit of scratching their skin until their itchy spots scab over. Depending on the cause of the scab, there are different ways to encourage healing. They include:

1. The Natural Cleansing Method

Start by rinsing the scab with warm water. Ensure the water isn’t too hot, and rinse long enough for the scab to soften effectively. Next, add some moisture depending on where the scab is located. Soak the scab in cool to warm water. If the scab is in the paw, just soak the paw in a bowl of warm water. But if it’s on the head, use a soft cloth and wring warm water into the scab to get it softer. Make sure you don’t pick or peel off the scab.

To retain moisture:

  1. Apply coconut oil to the scab so it can soak in and keep the skin soft.
  2. Try to spread the oil out away from the scab to moisturize the surrounding skin as well.
  3. Repeat the process as long as the scabbed area remains soft and moist and not dry and crusty. If the area becomes crusty again, rinse and moisten with warm water before applying the coconut oil.

The final step is to keep the skin supple by conditioning with coconut oil. Apply coconut oil every morning and evening. Although coconut oil is safe for your dog to ingest, try to discourage him from licking it so it can rest on the skin long enough to work. A simple way to achieve that is to wear a Dog Cone Collar For Surgery.

Moreover, coconut oil has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which can help heal the scab.

Dog licking coconut

2. The Clean and Spray Method

With this method, you begin by rinsing and pouring warm water over the scabs. Allow the water to soak for a while to soften the scab and the tissue surrounding it. Now, use a cool, wet cloth to add some moisture to the scab.

Again, avoid peeling or picking off the scab. Moistening the scab helps to eliminate dryness and itchiness. After moisturizing, use an anti-itch and antibiotic spray on the scab. Additionally, apply topical ointment on the scabbed surface. This helps the scab to slough off on its own. Afterward, use gauze to protect the scabbed area.

Other Causes of Scabs on Dogs

Scabs often form as wounds and cuts heal. However, some scabs come as a result of your pup scratching his skin too often or parasites invading his skin. Cleaning and moisturizing the scabbed area can speed up the healing process, but more importantly, you need to diagnose and address the underlying issue causing the scabs and treat the problem permanently. Here are the common causes of scabs:

1. Allergies

Pollen is perhaps the most common cause of allergy symptoms in canines. When some dogs inhale or come into contact with pollen, they can exhibit allergic reactions. There is no clear explanation as to why some dogs develop pollen allergies, though.

Allergic dermatitis can cause itchy skin, bumps, redness, hair loss, moist skin, darkened skin, or abnormal odors. Food allergies are less common than pollen allergies but can cause similar skin lesions.

2. External Parasites

As a dog owner, you’ll agree that fleas are quite notorious dog pests. Some dog breeds are especially sensitive to flea bites. If your furry friend happens to have flea allergies, they can develop bumps, itchiness, redness, scabs, etc.

Even if the fleas are invisible, there a chance they could be hiding somewhere on your pup’s skin, under the carpet, or in the yard. Always use good flea control sprays to avoid flea-related skin problems.

One of the most effective flea control products I would recommend is the Bayer Animal Health Seresto Flea and Tick Collar.

Other than fleas, mites can cause similar skin conditions. Demodex mites often live in hair follicles, causing hair loss and redness. The affected dog may not feel very itchy, but the mites are not contagious to other pets or humans.

Scabies mites may also cause similar lesions but exhibit a lot of itchiness. However, scabies is contagious to other pets and humans.

3. Fungal Infection

Depending on where you live, fungal infections caused by organisms referred to as dermatophytes can be prevalent. Ringworms are caused by fungi, not worms. Dermatophytosis or ringworms result in hair loss, bumps, scaly skin, redness, scabs, and itchiness.

Note that ringworms are contagious to humans and other animals. To treat topical ringworms, apply lime sulfur dips on the affected areas.

How to Diagnose Scab On Your Dog’s Skin

Diagnosing the cause of scabs on dog skin can be easy or complicated, depending on the cause of the bumps. Let your vet carry out the diagnostic testing to ensure something isn’t missed. Some of the procedures include:

Physical Examination

The standard approach for diagnosing scabs on dogs starts with an overall physical examination. Sometimes, your vet can find evidence of fleas or other external parasites during the examination. If that is the case, regularly bathing your pet with the right shampoo for flea allergies should remediate the situation.

Skin Scraping

Next, your vet may carry out a skin scraping through a microscopic examination to check external parasites. Demodex mites are fairly simple to identify with skin scraping. However, scabies mites can be difficult to find with this test. 

Fungal Culture

If skin scrapping still yields no results, the next step is to collect some samples for fungal culture. Your vet can collect hair or skin samples and place them on a fungal culture media for up to 10 days to see if dermatophyte fungi grow.

Bacterial Culture

Although very rare, dogs can develop bacterial skin infections that become resistant to most antibiotics. A bacterial culture helps identify the bacteria and identify which antibiotic medication has a higher chance of eliminating the bacteria.


Skin cytology can help in diagnosing and treating certain skin diseases. Your vet will collect a sample using a clear piece of tape and examine it under a microscope for yeast or bacteria. Skin infections are more often secondary to an underlying problem. By identifying the organisms, your vet can choose a medication to manage secondary infections while the primary issue is being addressed.

Allergy Testing

Allergy testing involves injecting allergens into the skin and observing which one causes a reaction. Only a veterinary dermatologist should carry out skin testing.

However, there is an option for blood testing to identify allergies, although the results may not be as accurate. Most general practice vets can carry out blood testing and allergy treatment without a referral.

Treatment regimens that include desensitization injections can help most dogs overcome allergies when managed appropriately.

Skin Biopsy

Sometimes, your vet may need to carry out a skin biopsy to identify the cause of bumps and scabs on your dog’s skin. They will use a sedative and local anesthesia and remove a small lesion for a pathologist to analyze.

Note that skin biopsy is done when lesions are unusual or when all other diagnosis options fail to yield results.

Diagnosis Ensures Better Treatment

Diagnosing scabs on dog skin can pose numerous challenges to vets. Sometimes, our first guess could be correct, but in some instances, you may need to take your pup to a vet for a professional diagnosis.

If the skin lesions keep reoccurring, I would suggest you ask your vet for a referral to a qualified veterinary dermatologist who is better placed to get to the bottom of the problem.

Bonus Tips for Treating Scabs on Dogs

Observe the following when treating scabs on your dog’s skin:

  • Use clean materials: Always wear disposable hand gloves when handling scabs to protect your canine and yourself from fluid and bacteria. If your dog is allergic to latex, consider nitrile gloves instead. Also, use clean, sterilized water when cleaning scabs.
  • Moderate temperature: Use the inside of your wrist to test the water temperature. Ensure it isn’t too hot or too cold. Cool or lukewarm water is the best for moistening scabs or flushing wounds.
  • Compresses: Use clean, dry cotton cloths to press gently against wounds when moistening scabs and surrounding skin.
  • A calm environment: Create a relaxing environment by enlisting the help of a friend or family member to soothe the dog as you handle the scab.
  • An easy source of water: Since it’s always difficult to keep dogs calm, especially when dealing with painful wounds, you’ll need a ready source of water like a handheld showerhead, sprayer, or bucket.
  • After-wash care: After moistening the scab, you’ll need to gently dry up the skin to get rid of excess water. Use a clean towel to dry up the sap and apply any vet-prescribed topical medication.

Dog Folliculitis Vs. Scabs

Most pup owners often confuse scabs with dog folliculitis, which is not accurate. Dog Folliculitis simply refers to the inflammation of one or more hair follicles on your dog’s skin. In veterinary medicine, it’s mostly discussed as bacterial folliculitis, a health condition that involves the infection of hair follicles with bacteria. It is widely considered the most common type of canine skin infection.

So, while dog folliculitis is not a scab parse, it can cause irritations on your dog’s skin and result in a wound that eventually develops into crusty scabs on dogs.

Final Words

When dealing with scabs, your dog may feel uncomfortable and try to run away. Stay patient and calm as your pup will often take their behavioral cues from you. If they realize you aren’t worried and you take your time to handle the wound slowly and deliberately, they will understand that you’re trying to help and stay calm.

Talk in a constant, soothing voice and cuddle them rhythmically to reassure them of your care. A treat or two after the session won’t hurt too!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What causes scabs on a dog?

Scabs are caused by superficial bacterial folliculitis. These skin abnormalities are easy to notice in short-haired dogs than on hairy counterparts. Folliculitis may occur in conjunction with other skin problems like allergies or injury.

How do you treat a scab on a dog’s head?

The simplest way to get rid of scabs is to clean the sore with hydrogen peroxide using a clean cotton ball or gauze. After it dries up, spray the affected area with an antibacterial and anti-itching spray like Ventique Labs Hydrocortisone Spray. Do this twice daily until the scab clears.

Do ticks leave scabs on dogs?

If ticks continue to bite your dog’s skin, they will feel irritated and scratch and bite their skin, causing scabs over time. Always inspect your dog’s skin for ticks and remediate them before they cause scabs.

Do scabs heal faster dry or moist?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, moistening wounds helps the skin to heal faster. A dry scab often slows down the healing of the underlying wound. Moistening scabs also helps to keep the wound smaller and reduces itching and scarring.

Will dog fur grow back after scab?

In most cases, your dog’s wound or incision will be almost healed in around two weeks after treatment. A scar will begin to form after about three weeks. You can give fish oil supplements to help the hair grow back and cover the scar. However, this is only possible if the hair follicles haven’t been damaged.

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