What Causes Scabs On Dogs? Treatment And Prevention Tips

Just recently, I detected scabs, or red spots, on the body of my beloved dog while cuddling and stroking it. With much anxiety, agony, and empathy in me towards my lovely canine companion, I was left wondering what the causes were.

Scabs on dogs are normally caused by foreign substances coming into contact with their bodies acting as an antigen. These substances can be allergenic, or non-allergenic in nature. Allergenic substances among others include pollen, shampoos, food allergies, whereas non-allergenic substances include microorganisms and parasites. In addition, injuries resulting from bruises and cuts during physical activities can also cause scabs on dogs.

Having detected scabs on my dog, I set out to know more and to be able to properly identify when my dog has a scab or tick, their causes, and treatments. In this article, we will look at:

  • What can cause scabs on dogs?
  • How do you treat a scab on a dog?
  • Why won’t my dog’s scab heal?
  • How do I stop my dog from picking scabs?

What Can Cause Scabs On Dogs?

Crusty scabs can be caused by many reasons, ranging from allergies, infections, parasites, and many more.

Here are how these factors can cause your dog to have itchy scabs.


At times, dogs may have adverse reactions to allergies that can come from anywhere, living spaces or outdoors. These allergies may eventually lead to skin problems that involve crusty scabs in dogs.

Some of the allergies that dogs experience, which may result in crusty scabs in dogs, include inhaling excessive amounts of pollen, the reaction of shampoo or fertilizer on the dog’s skin, food allergies, among others.


Some tiny insects can get attached to your dog and feed through your dog’s skin. These small insects are known as parasites, and they can also cause crusty scabs in dogs.

There are various types of paresis which the dog is prone to; Some can be seen visibly on the skin while others cannot be seen. Examples of these parasites include mites (which cause mange in dogs), fleas, and ticks.


Skin infections and diseases can also cause crusty scabs in dogs. Therefore you have to be careful and sure that your dogs aren’t suffering from infections. If you feel that your canine buddy suffers from infections, you can effectively treat it with antibiotics. However, if symptoms persist, you need to consult your vet immediately.

Image from Instagram:@abbottswayvetclinic

Below are the types of infections that may lead to crusty scabs on dogs that you need to watch out for.

Fungal Infection

This is also known as ringworm and can result in hair loss, scaly skin, red and itchy spots.

Bacterial Infection

This is also known as bacterial folliculitis and results from the inflammation of hair follicles. Symptoms usually include bumps on the skin. 

Yeast Infection

When you have excess yeast in a moist area, it tends to build up and then irritates the dog’s skin. It may result in discoloration of the skin.

Do Ticks Leave Scabs On Dogs?

Yes, ticks can leave scabs on dogs days after sucking the blood of your four-legged buddy.

Ticks can live on your dog’s skin for a long time and cause an infection if not taken care of. This will cause an unbearable itch your canine buddy has to endure, leading to incessant scratching. This then results in irritated and inflamed skin covered with crusty scabs.

However, the good news is that ticks are visible and can be removed when sighted, unlike fleas. You only have to ensure that you take out the head of the tick and crush it.

Do Fleas Leave Scabs On Dogs?

Yes, fleas can cause crusty scabs on dogs. Flea bites cause your dog to itch and lick its skin, which eventually results in a dry spot with scabs all over.

According to research, fleas are bacterial parasites. If fleas get on a sore spot on your dog’s skin, it may result in a bacterial infection.

How Do You Treat A Scab On A Dog?

When dealing with scabs, it is best to take your dog to the vet for examination because there may be more to the mere crusty scabs you can see on your dog’s skin.

A good vet will tell you if your canine buddy suffers from an underlying health condition or a hormonal issue. If not, the crusty scab is something not worth worrying about.

Once you have the confirmation from your vet that the situation with scab is not health-threatening, there are some home remedies you can use to help your pooch recover from crusty scabs.

Here are some home remedies used to treat scabs on dog skins.

Use Of Skin Balms

Skin balms can help your dog in a significant way. Skin balms help to pacify your dogs’ pains, thus leading to a significant reduction in itching and also help your canine buddy to heal from the crusty scabs eventually.

The Bodhi Dog USDA Certified Organic Paw Balm is our favorite skin balm for dogs; it works wonders for dry skins in dogs and dogs suffering from skin diseases.

Use Of Warm Water, Antibiotics, And Anti-Itch Spray

Another ideal home remedy is to make use of water, antibiotics, and anti-itch spray to clean the scabs. Doing this will prevent your dog from excessive picking of scabs.

Take a soft cloth that is soaked in warm water and use it to clean the affected skin area.

Thereafter, apply antibiotic cream or other topical ointments on the scab. Antibiotic cream or topical ointments inhibit the growth of microorganisms on the scabs, thereby preventing excessive scratching and allowing the skin to heal without further damage.

Finally, make use of an antibiotic spray on the affected areas to reduce itching and to complement the effect of the antibiotic ointments.

Is Coconut Oil Good For Dogs’ Scabs?

Coconut oil is also effective for dog scabs, as it is known to contain some antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. This can help fight off the bacteria causing the crusty scabs and allow the dog to heal up quickly.

You have to apply it all over your pooch’s skin twice daily and to discourage your dog from licking it directly as a means to remove the applied oil. It would be best to allow the oil to stay for as long as possible on the skin for effectiveness.

You shouldn’t also peel off the scabs, instead soften the spot with coconut oil or even water and allow the scabs to fall off themselves.

Coconut oil is not harmful to your pup, and in fact, you can mix a teaspoon of coconut oil with your dog’s daily meal.

Is Vaseline Good For Scabs?

If you have confirmed that your dog isn’t suffering from any underlying ailment, using Vaseline can only help to relieve the dog of its pain. However, it cannot get rid of the crusty scabs. Instead, it may overdry the scab and make it harder to fall off.

Image from Instagram:@mykoreandogs

Why Won’t My Dog’s Scab Heal?

It is very important to know that some dogs may not heal on time from crusty scabs for various reasons, relating to their genetics and age.

Due to their genetic makeup, some dog breeds are predisposed to experiencing scabs in their lifetime; thus, they find it hard to recover from it completely.

Some older dogs may also find it hard to recover from crusty scabs because these senior dogs tend to have coarse skin as they grow older, and their skin is also in a less hydrated condition.

Naturally, you don’t have to panic unless it is health-threatening. When in doubt, kindly contact your vet as soon as possible.

Furthermore, the size of a dog can also determine if the dog will quickly recover from crusty scabs. Large-sized dogs may take a longer time to heal from scabs than moderate-sized dogs. If your pet has excess skin or long floppy ears, they may also take a longer time to recover from scabs.

How Long Do Scabs Take To Heal On A Dog?

The majority of scab cases heal between 3 and 14 days.

However, there is no specific time for all dogs to recover from crusty scabs because it all depends on what caused the scab and its severity.

What we mean by this is that if an infection causes a scab, it may take longer to heal, and if the infection is not treated, the scab may reappear on the dog’s skin. You may have to treat your dog for infections for your dog to recover fully from scabs in this case.

Image from Instagram:@minnie_and_bobby_yorkies

How Do I Stop My Dog From Picking Scabs?

The best way to stop your dog from picking scabs is to address the problem right away by visiting the vet for treatment of the scab or by simply treating the scab by yourself at home.

Do note that it is not easy to stop your dog from picking up scabs, just like you cannot stop your dog from sleeping or eating. Your canine companion tends to pick up scabs instinctively or without the thought of it. This is a part of its healing process.

Why Does My Dog Pick Up Its Scab?

During healing after an infection, sore, or injury, scabs appear on the affected skin area. These scabs are not like real skin, contaminants like germs from the environment easily affect them making the skin of your pooch dry and itchy and your pooch gets uncomfortable with it.

Consequently, your canine buddy tends to scratch the affected area and pick up their scabs.

Why Does My Dog Keep Getting Scabs?

Certain dogs keep getting scabs on their skin because they have a slow healing process due to genetics, diseases like von Willebrand disease, and poor nutrition.

Others keep getting scabs on their skin because of excessive picking of scabs, improper dog care and poor grooming.

Image from Instagram:@petsandfriendsuk
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Pete Decker