If you’ve given your dog a belly rub recently and notice some stubborn black spots on their nipples that don’t come off when you rub them, you might be feeling a little concerned about what’s going on. Here’s what you’ll want to know!
All dogs have a natural oil that they produce to protect their nipples’ moisturization and hydration. Occasionally, this natural oil gets dirty from a dog’s environment, and it can turn brown or black around the nipples. Proper cleaning can help prevent this. This is considered normal with most dogs, and many don’t even notice it until there is a lot of build-up.
Below, we’ve gone into more detail on what the blackening means, how you can treat it properly and safely, and when it could possibly be cause for concern.
What are these black spots on my dog’s nipples?
As you’ve learned already, they’re natural secretions that have taken on some dirt and formed into stubborn, hard spots around the nipples. The best way to draw a comparison is when humans have blackheads on their faces. In both situations, there is an overproduction of sebum (natural oil), and it gets filled/clogged with environmental dirt and debris, taking on a brown or black appearance.
These black spots may feel hard to the touch, and they’ll be stubborn even if you wet a cloth and wipe firmly at them. Again, similar to a blackhead, you’ll need to get rid of them using proper treatment to keep everyone comfortable and safe. More on that later.
Is it normal to have black spots on their nipples or skin?
It’s normal for both male and female dogs to have black spots on their nipples and/or skin. It’s basically acne for dogs, and it’s common even if most of us don’t realize that it happens regularly. It can go away on its own and often does without you even realizing it was there in the first place. If, however, it’s especially obvious to you when you look at your dog’s nipples, or you don’t want it to get worse, you can remove it safely.
How can I get rid of the black spots on my dog?
Sometimes a mild (dog-safe) cleanser can help you get rid of those particularly stubborn black spots. Often, though, you’ll have to clean with light oil instead. You can also consider using hydrogen peroxide or benzoyl peroxide. But make use of them responsibly for your dog’s health and safety. These options can help soften the hard spots and loosen the dirt enough to wipe free from the skin without causing any kind of irritation. Remember to use dog-safe products, of course, and always check with your vet before trying anything out, as they might be able to recommend a better product.
Don’t try to use harsh acne cleansers on a dog, especially in an area as sensitive as their nipples. These products are designed specifically for humans and can harm your dog since they often contain many acids formulated only for human skin.
When you’ve finished cleaning their skin with your approved product, you should thoroughly cleanse the skin with a soft cloth and plain, warm water. This ensures that your dog doesn’t’ accidentally ingest anything, even if it is dog-safe!
When should I worry about black spots on my dog’s nipples?
There are a few situations where the block spots might be more than just a clogged oil build-up on your dog. In these situations, you’ll notice a few other “symptoms”:
- The black spots won’t come off even with the proper treatments
- There is an odor and/or swelling, discoloration, etc
- They have black spots elsewhere on their torso
The black spots won’t come off even with the proper treatments
Dogs can get freckles and darker pigments as they age. If these dark marks don’t go away with appropriate cleansing, it could just be a dog freckle! If it doesn’t cause your pet distress and there are no other issues you can see, it’s best to leave it as it is and keep an eye on it. If you’re not sure, you can always consult your vet, too.
There is an odor and/or swelling, discoloration, etc
If you discover the black spots because you are trying to figure out where that smell is coming from, there might be a skin condition that needs attention. It’s especially common in the thin-furred area around the dog’s nipples.
If there is any kind of rash or hives or swelling, this is also a good sign that you might want to book your dog in with your vet. This is, of course, assuming your female dog isn’t pregnant! If she is lactating or in heat, you’ll notice a bit of crust around her nipples.
They have black spots elsewhere on their torso
When you find those black spots on a dog’s nipples, take a look around the rest of their torso, too. If they have black marks seemingly everywhere that you are sure are new (and not just freckles), they could be dealing with some infestation! For example, many people mistake fleas and/or ticks for black spots at first. This is why proper cleaning is going to be necessary. If you think it is a pest infestation, get your dog in to be checked by a vet, as it’s always better to know sooner rather than later!
While black spots might be alarming when they seem to come out of the middle of nowhere, a proper understanding of and treatment for this issue will help give you peace of mind!
For the most part, the dark spots are just “run of the mill”, and dealt with by proper cleansing. Sometimes they can be signs of something else, though, so monitoring them and learning how to care for them is crucial!
There’s some pretty interesting detail in this topic that many pet parents don’t realize is so common. If you want to help educate another dog, mom or dad, consider sharing this article with them!