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Crusty Scabs on Dog (Back, Tail, head) Causes, How to Heal

My dog has crusty scabs on his back, what should I do? A scab is a dry protective crust that forms over a cut or wound during healing. Scabs can form on the dog skin due to itching and scratching caused by allergens, parasites, skin bacterial or fungal infection, dog skin rash, poor nutrition and other environmental elements.

Dog scabs can form on the back, tail, neck, belly, armpits and even on the head. When you examine the dog you can easily see the scabs. Constant itching, licking biting is a sign that your pet has a skin problem. There is need to know how to deal with scab on dog early enough. You should see a veterinarian to examine and provide a treatment for faster healing of the lesions or wounds.

Causes of scabs on dogs

crusty scabs on dog
scabs on dog picture

In summary, scabs and dry flaky skin on your pooch can be caused by the following:

  • Allergens caused by direct contact with irritants or ingestion of food
  • Internal or external parasites such as ring worms, mites fleas, mites, ticks, lice and many more.
  • Environmental factors such too much exposure to heat or chemicals such as pesticides, cleaning agents and more
  • Harsh dog skin care products such as shampoo
  • Stress that causes constant itching, biting or licking of the skin
  • Dog skin conditions such as bumps, rash and pimples
  • Poor nutrition


Pollen and food allergies commonly affect dogs. When a dog inhale or come to contact with pollen, there are high chances of allergic dermatitis that causes skin lesions among other symptoms such as itching, red bumps and hair loss. Most dogs are also likely to develop scabs, darkened skin and even bad odors.

Some types of food ingested by pets can also cause skin problems. This is less common although it has been reported to cause skin lesions in some breeds.


Both internal and external parasites are dangerous to pets. Fleas and mites are notoriously common dog pests. They can cause your dog problem if not controlled. Most pets are sensitive to the flea bites and they are likely to develop allergic symptoms such as scabs, hot spots, bumps, itchiness and reddening of the skin.

Dog mites are also notorious in causing hair loss and lesions. Demodex mites and scabies mites are the two common types of mites found on dogs. While demodex mites are not contagious to other pets and human, scabies mites are highly contagious to people and other pets. They should be controlled no sooner you discover them.

Internal parasites include intestinal worms and fungal infections. Ringworm in dogs is common and usually associate symptoms such as hair loss, itchiness, scabs on dogs back, dry and flaky skin. Ringworm should be treated immediately since they are contagious to both human and other pets.

Apart from controlling the parasites, you should also ensure that the dog is not chewing or biting the affected area. Flea and Tick collars are suitable for this case.

Dog skin care products and bathing

Grooming and bathing your pet is good and is also a way of controlling most skin infections. Well groomed dogs are always healthy and happy. Some products or types of dog shampoos may not go well with the skin. They can facilitate moisture loss and diminish skin natural oils.

This will make your dog skin to become dry and flaky, eventually she begin scathing and even cause bleeding that results to scabs formation. Too much bathing is also said to be harmful to your dog although not doing it can be a reason why your dog is smelling so bad. Do not bathe your pet excessively and also use appropriate shampoo that do not rob the skin of its moisture and natural oils.

Diet and Nutrition

Skin health mostly relies on minerals and vitamins. When you offer a diet without all the essential minerals and vitamins to your pet, then you are highly exposing her or him to skin problems. You can prevent scabs on your dog by proving a nutritional diet.

Environmental Elements

Exposure to chemicals such as chlorine in swimming water, house hold washing chemicals, pests control chemicals and even exposure to too much sun. Chemical products can cause burning of the skin or irritation. Scabs on dogs can also result from a pesticide irritation. It is good to consult a veterinarian on the best pest control method for your pets.

Stress and Anxiety

Dogs can get bored and stressed. This is especially when you don’t give him enough exercises and involve him in play and games. Stress can make your dog to begin scratching and licking the skin until hot spots are formed. Such lesions forms scabs in the process of healing.

Skin Rash

Heat rash in dogs is also a common skin problem. When your pet spends too much time in sun during summer, sunburn and heat rash can follow. Keeping her indoors in most part of the day can help in preventing itching and scratching of the skin.

How to test and diagnose scabs on dog

It is not easy to examine and establish the real cause of scabs and bumps on your dog without involving a veterinarian. The following are ways to test and diagnose:

  • Physical examination of your pet’s skin. Lesions and bumps can easily be seen especially for breeds that has little fur. Some parasites such as fleas or ticks can be seen without need to use a microscope.
  • Allergy testing that involves skin and blood testing by the vet can also help in determining the real cause of skin problems.
  • Skin scraping can also be performed to determine if external parasites are responsible for scabs.
  • Fungal culture and bacterial cultures may also be used to unearth possibility of internal parasites and infections.
  • Other methods that may be used include skin biopsy and cytology where a sample may be extracted for critical study to determine the underlying condition.

How to Heal and clear scabs on Dog

crusty scabs on dog's back
crusty scabs on dogs picture

Scabs usually make a dog feel so uncomfortable and stressed. You should therefore learn on how to clear, or get rid of scabs on your dog.

  1. Begin by rinsing the scab with warm water and allow some time for the scab to soften. You can also keep a wet piece of cloth on the affected area so help in adding moisture to the skin around. Do not pick or peel the scab off even if you see that it has soften.
  2. Apply a topical ointment to the scabbed area so that it can soften and slough off on its own. Remember to cover the area with a gauze and keep applying ointment to make the area moist and sooth it. Use Elizabethan collar to prevent the dog from licking or chewing the affected area.

There is need to help in speeding up the healing of wounds on your dog. This is a way of preventing scabs from forming. When you realize that your dog is scratching or licking the skin too much, you should immediately contact a veterinarian.

Prescribed scream can help in faster healing of wounds and lesions. Coconut oil and aloe vera based creams are suitable. Wounds can also be bandaged to prevent dust and dirt from getting to the area and also as a way of preventing a dog from licking the area.

While some wounds cannot be bandaged, it is good to use E-collars to prevent the dog from licking it. Most dogs does not like E-collars and will change behavior when you put it on them. They can stop eating, walking and even start knocking down or colliding with objects along the way.

Important Tips while dealing with Scabs on your Dogs

  • Scabs may heal on their own although they are always itchy
  • Dogs has tendency to scratch scabbing area making them crusty
  • Always involve a veterinarian for recurrent scabs and other skin related conditions.
  • Avoid touching and applying pressure on affected area especially when you are washing
  • If the affected area is swollen, you can apply a cold compress to ease the tension around.
  • Always keep your dog skin clean and well groomed. Apply ointments such as coconut oil to prevent most skin lesions.


Scabs form as a protective layer on a wound or cut. Therefore treating the cause helps in preventing scabs. Ensure your pet is not scratching the skin, biting or licking too much. Find out what is affecting her and offer a solution.

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