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Scabby rash on belly and back.

Species: Dog
Breed: cocker mix
Age: 11-15 years
My dog has a scabby rash that she has had for about a year. At first it was just on her belly after I had her groomed. Now it is in about three places on her back. Could it be fleas or ticks? I have not treated it with anything. Thank you

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Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Linda, and thanks so much for your question!

Skin questions are always a little hard to answer over the internet without examining your dog, but I can certainly give you a few ideas as to what could be going on.

Fleas are definitely a possibility. Some dogs are so allergic to fleas that even one bite can set them off with itchiness and scabs. The most common areas to see hair loss and scabs in a dog with a flea allergy is near the base of the tail or on the back of the neck. Some dogs with fleas will have flea dirt which are little black flecks that will smear a reddish color if you put them on a paper towel and smear them with water. If you do think that Molly has fleas then I highly recommend a prescription flea product such as Advantage, Revolution or Frontline.

It is also possible that these are areas of skin infection. Infections usually look crusty and red and sometimes have some flaky dandruff on them. If this is an infection, unfortunately it will not go away without a good course of oral antibiotics prescribed by your vet.

Ringworm is also possible, especially if the areas are in patches. Ringworm is actually a fungal infection and not a parasite. Again, you need prescription medication in order for it to go away. However, what you have described sounds much more like a bacterial skin infection than ringworm.

Some cocker spaniels can be prone to hypothyroidism. Dogs with low thyroid values will often have skin issues.

Unfortunately it does sound like a vet visit is necessary. Your vet should be able to diagnose the problem and will likely prescribe some antibiotics for a few weeks. Some skin infections can take up to 8 weeks of antibiotics in order to clear up.

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more concerns!

Dr. Marie



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.