Crusty Scabs on a Dog’s Back: Causes, Treatment, & Prevention
Category_Dog Knowledge

Crusty Scabs on a Dog’s Back: Causes, Treatment, & Prevention

by Andrew Ehlert

Everyone in the family suffers when you find crusty scabs on your dog’s back. The last thing we want is for our canine companions to be uncomfortable.

When your dog has a skin issue that causes scabbing on their back, it can lead to excessive licking and scratching. Your dog unknowingly aggravates the condition, introducing bacteria that can cause infection.

Your poor pup may be left feeling agitated, and you may feel at a loss for what to do.

Of course, your first line of consultation should always be with your veterinarian. They can help you identify why your dog has crusty scabs on its back and how to administer the quickest remedy to make everyone comfortable again.

Here we will explore the various causes of crusty scabs on a dog, what you can do to make your dog more comfortable, and ways to prevent skin issues that can lead to scabbing in dogs.

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Common Causes of Crusty Scabs on a Dog

Skin issues can be particularly difficult to deal with because there are so many different causes, both internal and external.

The most common causes of scabbing on your dog’s back may be:

  • Allergies
  • Parasites
  • Infections


Skin allergies are becoming increasingly common in dogs and can come from many different places.

Some allergic reactions in a dog’s skin can come from something internal. Often, the first culprit your veterinarian will look at is your dog’s food to see if any ingredients are known to cause skin irritation.

Medicines or treats are other examples of things that may be causing a reaction inside your dog’s body that causes crusty scabs on their back.

Other allergies are external, meaning they come from your dog’s environment. There is a huge list of things that might cause a reaction, from pollen to pesticides to shampoo. Secondhand smoke and cosmetic products you use on yourself, then transfer to your dog, may also cause reactions.

Allergies cause a histamine reaction that might make your dog itch uncontrollably. It is incredibly important to be mindful of your dog’s internal and external environment to quickly identify any factors that may be causing a skin reaction.

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Parasites and pests are the dread of every dog owner. These tiny, nasty bugs are unfortunately something pretty much every pet owner experiences at one point or another. If your dog has fleas or develops a mite problem, don't be ashamed and focus on finding treatment.

Fleas are the most commonly known parasite to cause scabs on a dog’s back. The feces, saliva, and bites that fleas leave behind can cause severe reactions in some pets. It is essential to maintain a proper anti-flea regime for your pet.

Ticks work solo rather than in colonies but can still cause life-changing diseases to people and pets. Not only can ticks transmit infections through their bite, but the bite itself can become infected if the tick embeds itself in your dog's skin.

Mites are a normal part of your dog’s microbiology, but certain conditions can lead to an infestation of different types of mites. These infestations are recognizable by their severity and are treatable.


Any scratch or cut on a dog’s skin can become infected without proper care.

However, there are types of skin infections, such as yeast infections, that are not a result of injury. Although a yeast infection usually occurs in areas like the ears and underarms, other conditions such as contact dermatitis can happen anywhere on a dog’s body.

Folliculitis is another bacterial infection that can cause sore bumps and scabs. Early signs include dryness and flaking.

How to Treat Scabs on Your Dog’s Skin

Your veterinarian can provide proper diagnosis and treatment for whatever skin condition your dog is suffering from. These treatments may include either lifestyle adjustments or medications.

Sometimes you need to change your dog’s food to relieve their skin condition or add an oily supplement to provide more moisture for their skin and coat. There may also be products in the home that you need to remove if your dog is having a reaction.

Other treatments include topical or oral medications that can clear up bacterial or fungal infections.

While you should always follow the advice of your veterinarian, there are some gentle and safe at-home remedies and supplements you can introduce to improve the health of your dog’s skin and provide them some comfort during the flare-up.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a safe substance that can improve the health of your dog’s skin and coat. It is extremely gentle, and although it may not be ideal to have a greasy pup running around, it can provide comfort to dry skin.

With its antifungal and antibacterial properties, coconut oil can calm the inflammation associated with skin issues.

If the oiliness is a problem, talk to your vet about supplementing your dog's diet with coconut oil.

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Oatmeal has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve general itching when used as a poultice.

Chamomile Spray

A mess-free solution to help your dog feel more comfortable amid skin problems is a strong brew of chamomile tea cooled in a spray bottle. Apply as needed.

How to Prevent Scabs on Your Dog’s Skin

Preventative treatment is the best way to be proactive about the long-term health of your dog.

Keeping up with yearly wellness visits as well as all flea, tick, and parasite regimes is essential to your pet’s overall health.

It is also worth educating yourself on how to deal with common parasites, like how to remove a tick, for example.

Ultimately, the best way to prevent scabbing on your dog’s back or skin is to know your dog inside and out. Pay close attention to any changes in your pet, mental or physical. Being familiar with your pet’s unique “normal” will help you quickly identify any issues so you can get your beloved pet’s tail wagging again as soon as possible.

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