Why Does My Golden Retriever Have Scabs? Causes & Treatments


I take very good care of my golden retrievers’ skin and hair, so you can imagine my first time I found out one of my pooches had small scabs. I was petrified, and it drove me crazy trying to figure out what happened.

So, I started to do my research before I go and consult their vet, just to make sure that it’s not something to worry about, and here is what I found.   

Why does my golden retriever have scabs? Your golden retriever probably can have scabs because of bacterial skin infections called “pyoderma” which can develop a greasy coat, this infection is caused by the irritation of the oil glands in their skin which will also lead to hair loss and excessive scratching and licking.

Any bacterial infection should be treated as soon as you notice the symptoms because it can develop many serious problems, so the sooner the better. Keep reading to know more about the causes of the scabs and how to heal your dog’s skin.

Causes of Scabs in Your Golden Retriever 

Scabs on dog's back to illustrate Why Does My golden Retriever Have Scabs  and the treatments

There are many reasons that could cause the scabs in your dog skin, here are the 4 most common causes of scabs in dogs:

  1. Pyoderma 
  2. Allergies 
  3. Fungal infection 
  4. Parasites 

Let’s discuss each of them briefly and give you what you need to know about them.

Pyoderma

This is a condition that can be caused by inflammation, cancer, or an infection.

Bacterial infection is the most common cause, and most of the time it is resolved easily with antibiotics.

It appears in areas that are warm and moist such as feet, lip folds, neck folds, facial folds, and armpits.

Symptoms of pyoderma  

  • Bald patches
  • Excessive itching 
  • Red bumps on the skin 
  • Sores 
  • Pustules 
  • Flaky patches 
  • Hair loss 
  • Excessive licking 
  • Dry and flaky patches 
  • Circular crusts 

Allergies

They could have scabs because they ate or smelled something they are allergic to,  pollen is one of the most common causes of allergy, it affects them when it contacts the skin or even inhales it.  

Symptoms of the allergy 

  • Hair loss
  • Darkened skin 
  • Itchy skin 
  • Moist skin 
  • Scabs 
  • Redness 
  • Bumps 
  • Bad odor 

Allergies can cause many problems in your dogs such as dry skin, and you can learn more about dry skin in golden retrievers here.

Fungal infection

One of the reasons why your golden retriever could have scabs is a fungal infection. Fungal infections are caused by organisms which are known as “dermatophytes” and they can cause lots of symptoms other than scabs or along with them such as 

  • Red skin 
  • Itchiness 
  • Bumps 
  • Hair loss 
  • Scaly skin 

Also one of the things that are caused by a fungal infection is ringworms. They can also cause your dog to start losing their hair in certain places, the most common one being around their eyes. You can learn more about golden retrievers losing hair around their eyes here to learn the possible treatments and solutions.   

Parasites 

Dogs can be allergic to lots of things including fleas, but even dogs that are not allergic to fleas can still be very sensitive to their bites.

Fleas can exist anywhere, for example, they may exist in the grass in your garden, your carpet, their bedding, or even their coat.

That is why you need to be careful, groom and bathe them regularly, also clean their bedding and check for any fleas and do not use any fabric softener because it may irritate their skin.

Symptoms of flea allergy 

  • Redness 
  • Bumps 
  • Itchiness 
  • Scabs  
  • Hair loss 

You can protect your golden retriever from fleas by getting them a flea collar, it releases pesticides and chemicals that poison the fleas and kills them.

Also, there is another type of parasites called mites, it may cause the same symptoms and it’s not contagious to other dogs or humans. The flea collar I like to use for my dogs is the one from Seresto because their protection really does last for months and it doesn’t seem to irritate my dogs at all.

You can check the Seresto Fleas collar for large dogs on Amazon here, or by clicking on the image below.

Finally, there are the scabies mites, they are contagious to humans, other dogs, and pets in general. However, they are not very common and it very rarely happens to actually be infected from your dog.

However, it does happen, and you can learn about the dog fleas that can infect humans here and find out how you can protect your pooch and yourself from them.

Treatments of Scabs in Your Golden Retriever 

Here are some treatments and home remedies you can try for your dog:

  • Give them a bath with a good shampoo for fleas and ticks (you can check my recommended shampoos here which I found to be the best after years of testing with my dogs)
  • Use aloe vera, just break off a big piece of the planet and apply it on the scabbed area (stay beside your dog to make sure that your dog doesn’t lick that area because it can make them vomit) – I also think an Aloe Vera gel such as this one on Amazon can work just as well if you don’t have the planet in the house, which most of us don’t.
  • You can also put uncooked oatmeal into a nylon stocking and run warm water over it, and leave your golden retriever be soaked in the water for 5 to 10 min (or you can just use the oatmeal shampoo like the Pet Pleasant Shampoo, which smells just so freakin’ good)
  • Clean the scabbed area with a cotton ball and apply hydrogen peroxide on it after it dries, spray the scabbed area with cortisone cream twice a day till it disappears.
Be Super Gentle!
Your dog could be in pain and you should avoid touching the scabs areas as much as possible and generally be super gentle with your dog.

You should also know that the pain can make even some super gentle and sweet dogs a bit aggressive, so you may want to muzzle them if they try to bite while you help them.

However, if the dog seems overly aggressive, it may be just a better idea to take them to the vet and let them handle the dog professionally instead of getting bit yourself or, even worse, causing the dog unnecessary pain.

Can I use vaseline on my dog for their dry skin?

Yes, you can use vaseline for your dog’s dry skin, vaseline is not toxic to your pooch, but if you gonna use it, you need to stay with your dog and keep an eye on them so they won’t lick it because it will upset their stomach and can make them vomit or at least have diarrhea.

What can I give my dog orally for itchy skin?

You can give your dog a prescribed dog-specific oral omega that can help to keep their coat and skin healthy.

Or a diet rich in omega 3 such as salmon, sardines (make sure to serve it to them without salt), greek yogurt, eggs, and milk (in moderation, just a few tablespoons).

What does dermatitis look like on a dog? 

Dermatitis looks red, swallowed, blistered, skin lesions, or rashes of the skin.

It will make your dog uncomfortable and it will lead to excessive licking, itching, or biting at their affected area. 

Credit: petplace

In the end, it will lead to a secondary bacterial infection.

Can you give your golden retriever Benadryl to stop itching?

Yes, you can give Benadryl to your golden retriever, according to the American kennel club, Benadryl is commonly used to treat itchiness that is caused by skin allergies in dogs.

It reduces other symptoms of allergies such as swelling, inflammation, hives, and itching.

How much Benadryl can I give my dog for itching?

You can give your dog 1 mg per pound of their body weight of Benadryl, give it to them two to three times a day.

Can humans get dermatitis from dogs?

Yes, humans can get dermatitis from dogs, 30% of people in the U.S. who suffer from allergies are to dogs and cats, because of their dead skin cells, dander, or flakes.

They can get other related conditions other than dermatitides such as asthma or eczema.

Related Questions 

Why does my golden retriever scratch so much?

Golden retrievers have a thick water-resistant undercoat, so the heat and moisture are close to their skin which is the most common reason why golden retrievers scratch, also it makes them prone to skin irritation, and that is why golden retrievers need to be bathed and groomed regularly.

Do fleas leave scabs on dogs?

Yes, fleas leave scabs on dogs, if your dog is allergic to fleas than when they bite them, they will become itchy, their skin will turn red, their skin will swell, it may develop scabs, sores, and hair loss, and not just fleas but any parasites.

What can I give my dog to stop itching?

To stop your dog from itching, clean a spray bottle and combine 50 percent water and 50 percent apple cider vinegar, spray their itchy spots you can also use it if they have itchy skin, but if there are any open cuts, try to avoid getting near it. 

Helpful Resources

5 Natural Remedies to Help Your Itchy Dog

Benadryl for Dogs

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