Thanks to one of our Twitter followers Simba Medina @KingSimbaThePUP for this question: Why does my Morkie have dark spots on his skin?

The answer is simple…. and complicated.

It’s a result of hyper-pigmentation. Hyper-small_dog_breeds_03pigmentation can show up on the skin and the nails and is caused by increased natural pigments called melanin. In nearly all cases, this condition is harmless and nothing to worry about. Maltese in particular, are prone to dark areas of skin since their hair and skin are so white.

So what causes the skin to get dark?  The most common cause is the sun.  And as the body ages, these dark patches become more common (age spots!)

When to be concerned

However the appearance of hyper-pigmented skin CAN be a cause for concern if it’s connected to:

  • Severe scratching
  • Fur/ Hair loss
  • Bumps on the skin which are filled with fluid
  • Lesions that  are raised above the skin surface of the dog
  • Bumps on the skin which bleed
  • A thickening of the dog’s skin
  • Crusting of the dog’s skin
  • Redness and irritation

In the picture above, these spots are actually darker areas on the skin – flat like the surrounding skin and there is no indication of swelling, weeping or crust forming. That would most likely be the hyper-pigmentation caused by the sun.

However, if there are other symptoms or you are concerned, be sure to check with your Vet.

Your Vet may check for:

Cushings Disease – an adrenal gland problem; one of the symptoms can be thinning hair and hyper-pigmentation. (Along with lethargy, increased thirst and pot bellied appearance).

Hypothyroidism – when the thyroid gland produces less of the hormone thyroxine than normal. A dog with this condition may show darkened skin, and hair loss.

A hemorrhage – cappillaries can break open and cause a deep bruising on the surface of the body. This can be a sign of vasculitis, a blood disorder which can come on a few months after vaccination, among other causes.

And in the meantime, the less direct sun for all of us, the safer we’ll be 🙂

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