Skin and Coat: Black Skin

Causes of Black Skin in Dogs:

The cause of canine black skin disease is unknown. Various factors have been suspected for causing the condition, like that of allergies, parasites, infective agents and many more, but the imbalance of hormones, especially growth hormones is hypothesized as the cause. Black skin in dogs is actually a collective term for a hyper pigmented coat and alopecia (hair loss) in dogs. Research shows that most dogs affected with hypothyroidism had developed dog black skin more often. Similarly, few  cases reported darkened skin as a symptom of skin allergy and atopic allergy (sensitivity to environmental factors). Progressive darkening of the skin may also occur as a result of skin cancer, Cancerous cells which increase in number are associated with a change in skin pigment.  This condition occurs less frequently in dogs but should be considered when evaluating black skin.

Signs and Symptoms:

Dogs with black skin disease may appear as dull, having a rough coat and alopecic (dog hair loss). The skin becomes darkened progressively and grows to grayish to black with time. Other signs of hypothyroidism are seen if is the canine black skin is due to hypothyroidism and the imbalance of growth hormone. Hair loss is more frequent and patchy initially. In later stages generalized hair loss is seen on both lateral sides of dog’s body. Rashes and itching is less common, but may occur.


Clinical signs and a dog's history may help, but a thorough laboratory examination of the thyroid gland is required. T3, T4 and Thyroid Stimulating hormone (TSH) levels should be closely monitored. Biopsy of skin tissues may reveal melanoma cancerous cell division & growth.


Treatment should only be initiated after a confirmatory diagnosis. The exact cause for the condition may not be revealed due to the complex and versatile signs and symptoms. Considering a spectrum for treating canine black skin disease is more helpful in resolving it. The most common approach is that of hormonal therapy. Regular hormonal induction for hypothyroidism may help in resolving dog black skin. Thyroid hormones T3, T4 & stimulating hormone TSH therapy for almost 8 – 12 weeks has been shown to be a better approach.   There are also homeopathic supportive therapies available for the thyroid such as Thyro-Pet.

Administrating natural & herbal remedies in form of topical  or oral preparations such as PetAlive Skin and Coat can improve the hair re growth rate. Neutering and spaying the affected dog is another effective approach, but it should only be considered in the case of hormonal imbalance and the absence of any cancerous cells. Supportive multi vitamin therapy and localized application of remedies can help in reducing recovery time.