Skin rashes occur extremely frequently in dogs. One of the most common reasons I see Boston Terriers at the veterinary clinic is skin rashes.
As a veterinarian, the most common type of Boston Terrier skin rash I encounter are bacterial infections or allergies.
The Complete Guide To Boston Terrier Rashes
In this article, I will discuss everything you need to know about skin rashes in Boston Terriers, including diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of skin rashes in dogs.
Rashes in Boston Terriers 101
Boston Terriers frequently get skin rashes. These can become very frustrating as they can often become very uncomfortable for your sweet pup!
Rashes can occur almost anywhere and look like nearly anything. There are more than 20 reasons why your Boston Terrier may have a skin rash which makes it very important to visit the veterinarian sooner rather than later.
Your veterinarian can perform a few simple skin tests, including skin scraping and skin cytology which can help diagnose the most common causes of skin rashes.
Once your veterinarian has appropriately diagnosed the underlying cause of your Boston Terrier’s skin rash, they will then prescribe some treatments to help your dog feel better.
Prevention of skin rashes is aimed at providing high-quality dog food, year-round flea and tick preventative, avoiding allergens, and regularly bathing your pet with a good oatmeal shampoo. Here is the outmeal shampoo I recommend below.
What is a Boston Terrier skin rash?
A Boston Terrier skin rash is an area of skin that appears red, itchy, bumpy, or scaly. A skin rash occurs typically due to an underlying medical condition such as an allergy, a parasite, or a bacterial or yeast infection.
A skin rash can look like almost anything. It can look red and irritated, or it can look moist and red. Often the appearance of the rash can give your veterinarian clues as to what is causing the rash.
Where can a skin rash develop on my Boston Terrier?
A skin rash can develop anywhere on your Boston Terrier.
As a veterinarian, I have seen rashes develop in pretty much every location. Most commonly, dog skin rashes appear on the belly or around the back end, but I have seen rashes on necks, legs, paws, backs, faces, ears, and toes!
Why does my Boston Terrier have a skin rash?
There are many reasons why a Boston Terrier would have a skin rash. These can range from mild, treatable conditions such as a skin infection to more serious long-term conditions like Cushing’s disease or life-threatening conditions such as immune-mediated thrombocytopenia.
Because it is difficult to tell the difference between many of these conditions just by looking, you will need to take your Boston Terrier to the vet to get a definitive answer as to what is causing the rash. You will not be able to successfully treat the rash until you know the underlying cause of it.
Here are some of the most common reasons why your Boston Terrier may have a skin rash:
- Flea allergy
- Environmental allergy
- Food allergy
- Hot spot (acute moist dermatitis)
- Skin infection (superficial pyoderma)
- Scabies mites
- Demodex mites
- Yeast infection (Malassezia dermatitis)
- Fungal infection (ringworm)
- Allergic reaction
- Urticaria (hives)
Here are a few of the less common reasons why your Boston Terrier has a skin rash:
- Contact dermatitis
- Lick granuloma
- Insect bite
- Cushing’s Disease
- Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia
- Skin tumor
- Urinary tract infection
- Anal sac disease
- Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection (MRSP)
Want to learn more about Boston Terrier health issues? Be sure to check out this article on Boston Terrier Society, 10 Common Boston Terrier Health Issues.
What does a Boston Terrier skin rash look like?
A Boston Terrier skin rash can look like almost anything and can range in appearance from a small area of redness with hair loss to multiple scabs and red bumps.
The appearance of the rash may give us some indication as to what might be causing the rash.
For example, multiple large welts all over your Boston Terrier may indicate that your dog has hives caused by an allergic reaction, and your pet needs immediate veterinary care.
Here are six of the most common types of skin rashes and what they might indicate.
Six common skin rash types
1) Moist Red Dog Skin Rash
Moist skin rashes often indicate some type of infection. An area of moist skin that is extremely red and itchy could suggest that your Boston Terrier has a hot spot.
Hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, are areas of bacterial skin infection. A hot spot can quickly grow if not treated promptly, so it is essential to call your veterinarian right away if you notice a hot spot forming.
2) Large Red Raised Bumps
Large red raised bumps may indicate that your Boston Terrier has hives. Hives indicate a systemic allergic reaction that needs to be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Hives can develop if your dog was stung by a bee or exposed to something that they were extremely sensitive to.
If your Boston Terrier is having a severe allergic reaction, they may also begin to develop facial swelling or difficulty breathing. If you suspect your dog has an allergic reaction, contact a veterinarian immediately!
3) Small Red Raised Bumps
Small red raised bumps occur most commonly on the belly or in the armpits. These bumps, referred to by veterinarians as papules and pustules, are often areas of bacterial skin infection.
Small red raised bumps may also indicate a parasitic infection with scabies or Demodex mites.
4) Itchy Red Dog Rash
An itchy, red rash may indicate that your Boston Terrier has an allergy to something. The most common types of allergies include flea allergy, food allergy, and environmental allergies.
A veterinarian can help you determine the underlying cause of the rash so that you can appropriately treat the rash.
5) Dry Scaly Skin
Scaly or flaky skin could indicate that your Boston Terrier has a bacterial, fungal, or yeast skin infection. It may also mean that your dog has an allergy. Some dogs with hormone imbalances, including hypothyroid or Cushing’s disease, may also develop flaky skin.
Finally, some Boston Terriers have dry skin and don’t have any underlying medical conditions.
If your dog has areas of redness that appear to look like bruises, this could indicate that they have a serious condition called immune-mediated thrombocytopenia.
This condition occurs when the immune system begins attacking itself. Your dog’s platelet level can get dangerously low, leading to spontaneous bleeding in the skin that will appear like a bruise.
Suppose you think your Boston Terrier has areas of bruising. In that case, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately as this is a life-threatening condition that could result in death if not treated promptly.
Read – 15 Interesting Facts About Boston Terriers
Diagnosing a Boston Terrier’s Skin Rash
When you take your Boston Terrier to the veterinarian, they will perform a complete history and physical examination. Be prepared to answer a few questions about your Boston’s skin rash, including:
- When did you first notice the skin rash on your dog?
- Is your dog itchy?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how itchy is your dog?
- Where is the rash?
- Did you give your dog a new kind of treat?
- Did you recently make a switch to your Boston Terrier’s diet?
- What type of flea preventative is your Boston Terrier on, and when did they receive their last dose?
- Do you or any other pets in the house have skin rashes?
- Have you recently used a new shampoo on your dog?
- Did you change the laundry detergent?
- Has your Boston Terrier had skin rashes before?
- Is your pet otherwise feeling like themselves, or have you noticed any other symptoms?
During the physical examination, your veterinarian will look for signs of external parasites such as fleas and ticks. They will also look for clues as to the underlying cause of the skin rash. They may recommend a few diagnostic tests to determine what is causing the rash.
Here are six types of diagnostic tests that your veterinarian can do to determine the cause of the rash.
1) Skin Scrape
Your veterinarian will often recommend doing a skin scrape if your dog has a rash.
To perform a skin scrape, your veterinarian will take a slightly dulled scalpel blade and gently scrape the skin in one area until your Boston Terrier begins to barely bleed.
Mites often live under the skin, so this test will detect if your pet is infected with any mites that may be causing the itching.
2) Skin Cytology
Skin cytology is one of the most commonly performed tests that veterinarians may run on your pet’s skin. Usually, your vet will use a microscope slide or tape to get a sample of your pet’s rash.
By pressing the tape or microscope slide on your pet’s skin, this collects material from the skin so it can be stained and examined under the microscope.
Your veterinarian will be able to determine if your Boston Terrier has a bacterial or yeast infection using this test.
3) Fungal Culture
If your veterinarian suspects ringworm, they will recommend a fungal culture. Your vet will collect and pluck several hairs from around the rash and place them in a tube on a special gel medium.
They will then monitor the tube over the next 2-3 weeks to watch for fungal growth. If any colonies of organisms grow in the tube, they can look at these under the microscope to determine what type of fungal organism is causing issues.
4) Bacterial Culture and Susceptibility
A bacterial culture takes a sample of the skin to determine exactly what type of bacteria are growing.
Over the course of a week, if any bacteria grow in the culture, these will be tested for their resistance or susceptibility to certain antibiotics.
The bacterial culture is most commonly used in stubborn cases of skin infections that seem to be resistant to first-line antibiotic therapy.
5) Skin Biopsy
If your veterinarian suspects a skin tumor or another unusual disease process, they may recommend performing a skin biopsy.
A skin biopsy takes a small area of the skin so that a veterinary pathologist can determine what is causing the lesion.
For Boston Terriers with suspected hormonal imbalances, your veterinarian may recommend collecting some bloodwork.
I will often check a CBC, chemistry panel, and thyroid level in Boston Terriers having recurrent skin issues or other reasons to suspect a hormonal disorder.
If a veterinarian suspects Cushing’s disease, they may recommend an ACTH stimulation test or a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test.
What can I do to help my Boston Terrier with a skin rash?
If your Boston Terrier has a skin rash, the best thing you can do is call your veterinarian. There are over 20 different causes of skin rashes, and some of these things, such as yeast or bacterial infections, can not be treated well at home.
While waiting for your appointment, check your Boston Terrier for fleas. If you notice fleas, you may consider starting your pet on a monthly flea and tick preventative.
When should I contact the vet for a dog skin rash?
Anytime your dog has a new symptom, including skin rashes, it is a good idea to give your veterinarian a call.
Your veterinarian will help you determine what is causing your dog’s skin rash and can administer medications that will treat the underlying cause of the skin rash to give your pet quick relief.
Need to talk to a veterinarian right now? Go to the Boston Terrier Society vet page to see the companies we recommend to speak with a vet 24/7. Click here to go to the Boston Terrier Society 24/7 Vet Page.
What can a vet do to help my dog with a skin rash?
Your veterinarian can determine the underlying cause of your dog’s skin rash. Because there are many different reasons that dogs get skin rashes, your veterinarian will be able to determine what is causing the rash and how to treat it properly.
One of the most common causes of dog skin rashes is flea allergies. Because of this, your veterinarian will want to ensure that your pet is on a monthly flea and tick preventative.
If your dog has a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will likely prescribe oral and/or topical antibiotics. Dogs with yeast infections will need oral and/or topical antifungal medications.
If your dog has allergies, your vet may wish to try a special prescription allergy diet or prescribe a medication to help with the level of itchiness that your dog is experiencing. Some of the most common allergy medications used by veterinarians include:
- Cytopoint injections
- Steroids such as prednisone
What can I put on my Boston’s skin rash?
You should avoid putting anything on your dog’s skin rash until you first have it checked out by a veterinarian. You want to be sure that what you are applying to the skin rash isn’t going to make things worse.
Often, the at-home remedies described on the internet can actually make skin rashes worse and can be painful to your pet.
Once your veterinarian has examined your pet, they will be able to prescribe medications to treat the skin rash. They may recommend:
- Oral and/or topical antibiotics
- Oral and/or topical antifungals
- Allergy medications
- Medicated baths
- Fatty acid supplementation
- Monthly flea and tick preventative
Is there medication I can give my Boston with a skin rash?
First and foremost, you should ensure that your dog is on a high-quality flea and tick preventative. Flea allergy is one of the most common reasons I see pets for skin rashes. Here are a few of my favorite flea medications for dogs:
There are many veterinary prescribed medications that may help with your dog’s skin rash. If your pet has allergies, your veterinarian may recommend:
- Fatty acid supplementation
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl
In general, I do not recommend administering any over-the-counter medications to your dog until you have first consulted with your veterinarian to ensure that it is safe for your pet.
Are there things I should avoid putting on my Boston Terriers skin rash?
There are many home remedies for skin issues described on the internet. Many of these home remedies are unsafe for Boston Terriers.
I do not recommend putting vinegar on your pet as this may sting and hurt. Another common at-home remedy described online is the use of coconut oil on skin rashes. This is also ineffective at treating skin conditions in pets and usually just results in a messy dog and messy house.
It is also not a good idea to put any human creams or ointments on your put until you have first asked your veterinarian if they are safe for your Boston Terrier. Often, pets will lick off any topical creams you put on them, and if ingested, these medications may make your Boston Terrier sick.
To be safe, I recommend speaking with your veterinarian before applying any topical products to your Boston Terrier’s skin rash.
How can I prevent a Boston Terrier skin rash?
Once your Boston Terrier has been diagnosed with a skin rash once, they may be predisposed to developing more rashes in the future.
Some Boston Terriers may develop recurrent rashes, and often this is associated with an underlying allergy to something in the environment, fleas, or an ingredient in the food.
Here are a few steps that I recommend to prevent skin rashes:
Step 1: Frequent Bathing
If your Boston Terrier is prone to developing skin rashes, your veterinarian may recommend that you bathe them every 1 to 2 weeks with an oatmeal shampoo or medicated shampoo. Frequent bathing will wash any pollen or other allergens off and will fend off any infections.
When bathing your pet, lather in the shampoo and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off.
Step 2: Feed a High-Quality Dog Food
High-quality dog food is key to preventing skin rashes, especially ones secondary to food allergies.
One of my favorite non-prescription dog foods for Boston Terriers is Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach.
If your veterinarian determines that your Boston Terrier has food allergies, they may recommend a special prescription allergy diet to prevent rashes from recurring.
Step 3: Administer Fatty Acid Supplements
Veterinarians will often recommend that dogs that are prone to skin rashes receive fatty acid supplementation. Fatty acid supplementation can actually improve allergy symptoms and skin inflammation!
Step 4: Year-Round Flea Control
One of the most important preventative measures for Boston Terrier skin rashes is placing your pet on a high-quality monthly flea and tick preventative. Many cases of rashes are caused by fleas or other external parasites.
Placing your Boston Terrier on a good flea prevention will give you one less thing to worry about.
Step 5: Frequent Air Filter Changes
Dogs with allergies may benefit from frequent air filter changes. Ensure that you are using a high-quality air filter in your house that will filter out any allergens such as pollen and dust mites.
If you keep your windows closed, this may also reduce the number of allergens in your house.
There are many different reasons that Boston Terriers can have skin rashes.
In fact, there are over 20 different causes for skin rashes! Some of the most common causes of skin rashes include flea allergy, food allergy, environmental allergy, hot spots, skin infections, and mites.
If you notice a skin rash in your Boston Terrier or anything else out of the ordinary, I highly recommend visiting your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will be able to determine what is causing the skin rash and give you appropriate medications to treat the rash.
Never put any over-the-counter, home remedy, or human medications on your pet until you first speak with your veterinarian, as often, these products can do more harm than good.
Finally, to prevent skin rashes, make sure your pet is on a monthly flea and tick preventative, a high-quality dog food, and is frequently bathed with an oatmeal shampoo.
Other Articles You Should Check Out
- 10 Common Boston Terrier Health Issues
- Allergies In Boston Terriers
- What To Expect In The First Year Of Raising A Boston Terrier
- Burke, A. (2017). Dog Rash on Belly. AKC.
- Geneva Pagliai, DVM. (2020). Dog Skin Conditions, From Belly Rashes to Scabs and Sores. PetMD.
- Animal Medical Center of Southern California. Canine Allergic Dermatitis: Causes and Treatment Options.