Why My Dog’s Fur Changing Color In Spots?

(Last Updated On: September 5, 2022)

“My puppy was covered in a gorgeous coating of white hair when I picked him up the other day. Now, he’s all dotted up like the Dalmatian!” – Concerned pet owner. It’s likely to be an exaggeration. However, what is the reason for your dog’s fur turning color in spots?

While your pet is adorable and beautiful as it was before, it might be alarming if those spots could indicate that there is something more than just a little bit sinister happening inside.

However, this isn’t usually the situation but there are possible factors that can affect a dog’s coat color change (try to say that five times in the same row!). They could be:

  • Age-related natural aging
  • Hair loss or grooming
  • Staining;
  • Hormones;
  • Injury;
  • Illness; or
  • Nutrition.

Let’s now examine the reasons behind this phenomenon!

What Causes My Dog’s Fur To Change Color In Spots?

Understanding the genetics that underlies it requires some time When you add to it color changes, it gets difficult to comprehend.

There are numerous reasons for reasons why your dog’s fur might alter color when it comes to spots. Certain causes are normal, but others could be reasons to be concerned. Some of these issues could require assistance from a vet in resolving them.

Age

There are occasions during your pet’s life when their coat can change color as they grow from a puppy to an adult. With respect to breeds, the colors will change when the coat of the puppy is replaced by an adult coat as they go through the process of aging.

In some dogs, it is possible to see the fur becoming darker. In other dogs, it gets lighter. up.

Certain dogs may even add whites and greys to their coat within the first year of their lives. Overall, the color of puppy fur changing with spots is a common sight to observe!

Fur coats of dogs change when they grow older. As with humans, dogs are prone to seeing their coats get thinner and alter hue. Also, they can begin to accumulate hair that is graying.

Injury

Most people don’t realize that injuries or wounds like acne lesions (and the process of healing that follows) could cause the coat of a dog to change color! It is believed that hair follicles are damaged and this is the most likely cause for changing color in this case.

The coat can be darker around a cut area (such as when you accidentally cut your dog’s paws using scissors while grooming) due to the increase in melanin levels at the site that is designed to speed up healing.

The change in color due to injuries may be only temporary, however, in certain situations, the color may change to a permanent color as well.

When hyperpigmentation occurs due to trauma that is caused by injury, only the area surrounding the wound will be affected. The remainder of the coat remains the same as it was prior.

Hair Cuts

The groomers are known to go as far as warn customers who have been clients repeatedly that shaving for a long time on the fur of a dog may result in color variations due to texture changes along with the fresh coat that is coming through.

In general, it’s more usual for lighter hues to show up after a few haircuts. Also, any modifications are typically more noticeable when you cut your coat short.

As hair gets back in place, you might see new colors appearing in places that they weren’t prior.

It could also be because canines have an undercoat that is typically unnoticeable under a coat. Therefore once the outer coat gets cut off or otherwise cuts, the usually shrunk undercoat can be seen!

This is especially evident in my dog Olliver who is a brindle Cardigan corgi. When he sheds his annual big hair shed as he gets older, more of his light brown shades appear in bright streaks.

As his coat’s top coat starts to develop once more, he returns to his darker black/brown color!

Illness:

Numerous illnesses or ailments can cause your dog’s coat color to change. Typically, skin issues that are superficial like parasite bites (from ticks or fleas) or hives may cause damage to hair follicles as well as skin, resulting in a variation in color.

Infections like

Demodectic Mange (caused by the mite population);

Malassezia Dermatitis (yeast overgrowth that results in dry, itchy, and dry skin); and

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (transmitted through tick bites)

Also, it can affect the color of the dog’s skin condition and coat- typically in a patchy, uneven way.

The most serious illnesses that can be responsible for the change in color of a dog’s fur that cause spots include vitiligo hypothyroidism, as well as cancer.

Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a condition that causes the pigmentation cells to disappear. The condition is rare. the disorder that is largely undiagnosed as a cause however, some researchers have identified it as a result of autoimmune diseases and genetic causes.

Vitiligo can affect the cells that create melanin within the body of a dog. But, every dog is affected in a different way by the disease, with some suffering from massive patches of loss of pigment while others have only small areas of white scattered on the ears and face.

Fortunately, the issue isn’t painful for the affected pet, but the loss of color can appear to be a possibility of spreading and growing in size as time passes.

There are also breeds more likely to be afflicted with the condition, including:

  • Dachshunds
  • German Shepherds
  • Rottweilers
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Belgian Tervurens.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can be a hormonal condition that can also lead to changes in the color of your dog’s hair and health.

It’s a condition in which the thyroid does not function in a way that is efficient, and could cause other symptoms like brittle hair, loss of hair, skin infections, an inability to eat, and a slowing of heart rate and lethargy.

Hypothyroidism can be caused by two identified causes: idiopathic Thyroid gland atrophy and lymphocytic thyroiditis.

Of the two, the former is the one that causes the most problems that occur and occurs in the event that the immune system thinks it is the thyroid that poses a danger and targets it in response. While it’s not known the reason for this but it is believed that genetics play a role.

Cancers

Usually, you’ll see the coat of your dog becoming lighter (and possibly thinner). Cancer is not a likely cause for changes in color However, a vet might look into it if they feel there are other indications of the issue.

The potential cancers that could cause the color change can be:

  • Basal cell tumors
  • Tumors of the interstitial cell
  • Mast cell tumors
  • Melanomas
  • Squamous cell carcinomas
  • Epitheliotropic lymphomas

Hormones

Color changes can be caused by periodic hormonal fluctuations that occur over time. As an example, some coats of dogs become darker in hot weather. There are times when these may be periodic coat changes that are noticeable during different periods of the year.

Atypical hormonal issues like hypothyroidism, as discussed above, could cause colored changes that are sporadic. Certain hereditary disorders can cause different shades in the fur of a dog. For instance:

  • Follicular dysplasia of the hairline can cause brown and black hairs in dogs that have three or more different coat colors
  • Acanthosis nigricans can affect Dachshunds, particularly with pigment changes along with loss of hair
  • Color dilution can result in hair loss and brittle hair loss in dogs who have lighter coat colors than normal for their breed
  • Follicular dysplasia can be characterized as abnormal hair cells that result in pigment changes and hair loss and hair shaft changes.

Staining

Sometimes, a change in color may result from exposure to chemicals that are harsh. For instance, exposure to sunlight could cause an alteration in color like a specific chemical in the saliva of your dog or tear ducts (as we’ll discuss further below).

If you suspect that the staining might be due to a chemical cause it is an ideal idea to bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately as the chemicals may cause health problems in other animals.

The minerals that are present in your dog’s shampoo or even their dog’s collar and tag can cause the fur to be stained. Certain metals may cause oxidation upon contact and cause a change in the coat of your dog.

The sun can cause your pet’s hair to get lighter during the summer months and especially when they’re outdoors more often during the summer. The change in hair color is normal and shouldn’t pose a problem. Then, the dog’s tears and saliva could contain chemical compounds known as porphyrins.

Typically, porphyrins aid in creating red blood cells but they can also make the fur of a dog red or pink when dogs are afflicted with too many acidic fluids they drink. It is evident in spots when a dog often licks their coat and especially around its eyes and mouth.

Nutrition

Nutrition can play a variety of aspects in the coat of a dog’s color. It takes a lot of energy to create. If your dog isn’t receiving enough nutrition, it could make the coat lose its color in the process.

Certain studies have demonstrated that certain nutrients could cause hair to change color. For instance, certain components found in dog food that are mass-produced such as sugar beet or food dyes can be used to darken light fur.

This is the reason why color changes are particularly evident in dogs from a rescue that are taken in and placed on a healthier diet. Since they’re fed more nutritious food from the new owner, their coats will slowly become lighter in color too!

In ensuring that your dog receives the correct nutrition, you could notice a positive change in the fur of your dog.

Should I Be Concerned About My Dog’s Fur Changing Color?

Most of the time the changes to the coat color of your dog generally aren’t a big problem. If your dog is exhibiting some other problems in addition to the color change be sure to bring your pet to the vet. This will help relax and you might find an issue in your pet prior to it becoming a bigger threat.

What should you do if you notice changes in your dog’s color?

If your dog’s behavior is normal and there is a shift in coat color, it’s most likely to be the consequence of natural factors, such as hormone shifts, aging, or staining. Whatever the case, you’re able to contact your vet to schedule an appointment for a regular visitor for a more thorough examination performed.

However, if your pet is showing symptoms of injury or unusual fatigue and a change in color, it might be wise to bring your dog to an emergency treatment facility as soon as you notice. The presence of clear indications of illness like fever (rectal temperature above 103.5F) or dehydration as well as tongue and gums that appear pale and take a long time to replenish in the color are all reasons for an immediate visit to the veterinarian’s office.

If you are taking your dog for a visit to the veterinarian, be sure you inform them of any changes in your pet’s diet, routine and behavior so that they can give the best diagnosis.

Possible Treatments

In the event that your dog’s fur has changed color of spots or spots, a general practitioner vet will be able to recognize and treat the issue. In more complex situations, they might seek out external specialists in veterinary oncology and dermatology. The diagnosis typically starts with a thorough exam on the coat of your dog, its skin, and general health, along with talking with the owner regarding the recent changes in color.

In the majority of instances, it is required for the dog to undergo additional diagnostic tests to identify the root of the problem. These examinations may include blood tests as well as cytology (microscopic analysis of samples from the skin) as well as biopsies. The exact treatment needed to treat your dog’s fur color alteration will, of course, differ in accordance with the reason.

Fortunately, most dogs who have pigment issues are able to be controlled at home by the use of prescription shampoos, supplements, or other medications. Commonly used medications in these situations include vitamins and fatty acids such as hormone supplements for thyroid chemotherapy, immunosuppressants, antifungal ointments, as well as antibiotics.

(Helpful Tip If you notice your dog is itchy because of a skin issue, give Benadryl! A dose of 1 mg/pound of body weight every 12 hours could be very beneficial.) If cancer is believed to be a contributing factor surgery may be necessary to boost the overall health of the pet. For instance, hypothyroid dogs are treated with oral thyroid hormones that effectively reduce the risky aspects of the condition. Spaying and neutering are frequently required to control the hormonal changes in pigmentation.

Keep in mind that even if the root cause of the disease is treated, the color change could last for a long time.

In Conclusion

If you notice your dog’s fur turning a different shade, keep in mind that there could be many possible reasons behind the color change.

This could include the natural aging process, hair loss as well as staining and nutritional deficiencies and hormonal problems, as well as diseases underlying, and even the result of injuries in the body.

Certain of these issues are natural and non-threatening, so they are not required to be dealt with in any specific way. The new spots of color can be taken as a brand new part of your dog and treated as such!

But, some will require specialized veterinary care. Therefore, it is essential to start by taking your dog to the veterinarian where it can be first diagnosed.

When the cause of the changes in pigmentation is established It can then be dealt with case-by-case by the use of medicines or supplements, shampoos, or even surgery if needed.

It’s safer to play it safe in regards to the well-being of your dearest friend, so if noticed recent changes in their behavior (such as fatigue or lack of appetite) in addition to the new spots, the most effective solution is to take your pet to the closest vet’s office!

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