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Dog Armpit Rashes: Causes and Treatment Options - PawSafe

Dog Armpit Rashes: Causes and Treatment Options

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

dog armpit rashes

Unfortunately, just like humans, dogs can experience a variety of health issues, including skin problems. One common skin issue that dogs can experience is an armpit rash. This can be uncomfortable for your pup and concerning for you as a pet owner.

When a dog is allergic to something, they can react by developing a skin lesions (erythema) on their body. This can be accompanied by itching, redness, and inflammation. If you notice your dog scratching or licking their armpits more than usual, it may be a sign that they have an armpit eruption.

By understanding the common causes of dog skin infections, we can take steps to prevent them from occurring or reoccurring in our dogs. We have consulted top veterinarian sources such as The Small Animal Dermatology by Dr. Adam P. Patterson and Dr.  Keith A. Hnilica to understand skin infections in dogs better.

Identifying the specific cause of the armpit redness and lesion typically requires a veterinary examination to determine the appropriate treatment and prevent further discomfort or complications.

Certain breeds are more prone to developing armpit irritation than others. Breeds with skin folds, such as bulldogs, are more susceptible due to their skin folds that offer moisture and a warm environment for the bacteria to grow.

Poor hygiene can also contribute to the development of dog armpit skin problems. When a dog’s armpits are not cleaned regularly, dirt and bacteria can accumulate, leading to irritation and inflammation. In the picture above, a dog is getting their armpit shaved. If not done properly, this can irritate the skin and also cause skin issues and irritation.

Common Causes of Dog Armpit Rashes

Skin issues under a dog’s leg area, also known as axillary dermatitis, can be caused by various factors. These breakouts can be uncomfortable and itchy for dogs. Common causes of dog armpit skin problems include:

1. Allergies

Three types of allergic reactions can cause skin eruption. These are:

  • Food;
  • Environmental; and
  • Skin allergies.

Food allergies occur when a dog’s immune system reacts to a specific ingredient in their diet. Common food allergens include beef, chicken, dairy, and grains. If your dog has a food allergy, they may also experience other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and itching all over their body, including their eyes.

Environmental allergies are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mold. Dogs with environmental allergies may also experience symptoms such as scabbing, hair falling out, itchy, and skin redness. Allergies can cause armpit redness and irritation in dogs, especially if the allergen comes into direct contact with the skin. It can also result in conditions like hives.

Contact dermatitis or atopic dermatitis occurs when a dog’s skin comes in contact with an irritant such as a chemical or plant. This type of allergy is known to affect the dogs’ quality of life and requires lifelong management. Contact dermatitis or atopic dermatitis can be harder to diagnose as the irritation may not appear immediately after contact.

2. Fungal Infections

These infections attack dogs with weakened immune systems, or those that are frequently exposed to damp and humid environments are more prone to these infections.

Symptoms of a fungal infection may include redness, ear infections, itchy skin (pruritis), and flaking of the skin (dandruff). In some cases, the affected area may also have a foul odor. The infection may choose to be localized in an area or spread around the body. Some fungal infections include ringworm, which is easy to medicate.

To diagnose a fungal infection, your veterinarian may perform a skin scraping or culture. Treatment typically involves the use of antifungal medications, such as ketoconazole or itraconazole. 

Preventing fungal infections in your dog’s armpits can be done by ensuring they are kept clean and dry, especially after exercise or exposure to water. Regular grooming, which includes trimming the hair in the armpit area, can also help prevent the buildup of moisture and bacteria that can lead to infection.

3. Bacterial Infections

This type of infection can occur when the skin is damaged or irritated, allowing bacteria to enter and multiply. Dogs with skin fold pyoderma, intertrigo, or endocrine and metabolic disorders are particularly susceptible to bacterial infections in their armpits. Studies show that dogs with short noses like pugs or bulldogs are far more prone to this kind of infection.

Common bacteria that can cause armpit breakouts in dogs include Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Symptoms of a bacterial infection may include redness, swelling, and discharge from the affected area. In severe cases, the infection may spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment for bacterial infections typically involves antibiotics, either in the form of topical creams or oral medication. It is essential to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully and complete the entire course of treatment to ensure that the infection is fully cleared.

4. Heat Rash

Heat rash is a common type of irritation that dogs can develop, especially during hot and humid weather. This type of breakout is also known as miliaria, and it occurs when sweat ducts become blocked, causing sweat to build up under the skin.

Heat skin rashes can appear as small red bumps or blisters, and it is most commonly found in areas where there is friction, such as the armpits, groin, and neck.

If your dog is experiencing this condition it is vital to keep them cool and dry. You can do this by providing plenty of fresh water and shade and avoiding activities that may cause them to overheat.

5. Self Harm (Compulsive Licking Or Biting)

Excessive licking or biting of the armpit be the result of self-harm behavior in dogs. Dogs may lick or bite their armpits due to various reasons, including allergies, fleas, or skin infections. However, excessive licking or biting can cause further irritation, leading to losing hair, redness, and inflammation. The paw is the most common target for this behavior, but it can also extend to their belly area

If you notice your dog constantly licking or biting their armpit, it is essential to take action immediately. Ignoring the problem can lead to further complications, such as secondary infections or even permanent scarring.

One way to prevent self-harm is to direct your dogs’ behavior somewhere else by keeping them engaged and offering treats when they comply. 

6. Parasites

Parasites are a common cause of armpit irritations  in dogs. Fleas, ticks, and mites are all parasites that can cause irritation and inflammation in the dog’s body. Fleas are tiny insects that feed on the blood of your dog. 

They can cause intense itching and skin irritation, which can lead to breakouts in the armpit area. Ticks are another type of parasite that can cause inflammation. They harbor and transmit diseases like Lyme disease, which can be harmful to you and your dog.

According to MSD manuals, Lyme disease can be asymptomatic in some animals. In dogs, the disease may result in fever, painful swollen joints, and lameness that comes and goes. If left untreated, it can lead to severe health issues in the kidneys, heart, and nervous system.

Mites are another type of parasite that can cause armpit breakouts in dogs. Sarcoptic mange is a skin condition caused by mites, and that can cause severe itching and hair loss in dogs. If left untreated, the dog may also die

Sarcoptic mange can be transmitted to humans and other dogs through direct or indirect contact with an infected dog.  Demodectic mange is another type of mite that can cause hair loss as the first noted sign and skin irritation.

Keep your dog clean and well-groomed to prevent parasites from causing lesions in your dog. Regularly check your dog for fleas and ticks, and use flea and tick prevention products as recommended by your veterinarian. 

7. Immune & Hormonal Disorders

When a dog’s immune system is compromised, it can lead to a variety of skin issues, including armpit redness and skin issues like itching, redness, scabs, and hair loss. One immune disorder that can cause skin problems is Bullous Pemphigoid. This condition occurs when the immune system attacks the dog’s skin, leading to the formation of blisters and sores.

Other immune disorders that can cause this kind of issue include Lupus, which can cause a butterfly-shaped rash on the face, and Pemphigus, which can cause blisters and sores on the skin.

Other common underlying medical conditions that cause skin problems include hormonal disorders like Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, or diabetes.

If you suspect that your dog may have an immune disorder, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian. They can perform tests to determine the underlying cause of the issue and develop a treatment plan to manage the symptoms and improve your dog’s quality of life.

8. Nutritional deficiencies

Sometimes, a dog armpit skin problems can be caused by nutritional deficiencies. This is because specific vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy skin and coat.

One common deficiency that can lead to skin problems in dogs is a lack of omega fatty acids. These healthy fats are found in foods like fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds. Without enough omega fatty acids, a dog’s skin can become dry, itchy, and prone to redness and itching.

Another essential nutrient for healthy skin is zinc. This mineral helps to regulate oil production and promote wound healing. When a dog doesn’t get enough zinc in their diet, they may develop skin lesions, hair loss, and other skin problems.

Specific vitamins are also crucial for skin health. Vitamin A, for example, helps to regulate cell growth and maintain healthy skin tissues. Without enough vitamin A, a dog’s skin can become dry, flaky, and prone to infections.

Symptoms to Look Out For

If you notice your dog constantly scratching or licking their armpits, it might be a sign of an armpit skin issue. Here are some symptoms to look out for:


The skin in your dog’s armpits may appear redder than usual. This could be a sign of inflammation.

Hair Loss

In some cases, the affected area may experience hair loss due to constant scratching or licking.


Another symptom of  is swelling. The affected area may be puffy or swollen, making it uncomfortable and painful for your dog.


You may notice a foul odor coming from the affected area. This is caused by bacteria or yeast that thrive in warm, moist environments, like your dog’s armpits.

Discharge & Scabs

In severe cases, your dog’s armpit may produce a discharge and open sores or scabs. This could be pus, blood, or other fluids. If you notice any discharge, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Diagnosing Rash In A Dog’s Armpit

It’s also important to rule out other possible causes of the rash, such as allergies or infections. Your veterinarian may perform skin tests or take a sample of the affected area for further analysis.

In some cases, a dog’s inflamed skin may be a symptom of an underlying condition such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to rule out these possibilities.

If you notice any signs of skin irritation, it’s essential to seek veterinary care promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the rash from worsening and causing discomfort to your furry friend.

Treatment Options

If your dog has developed irritation in their armpits, there are several treatment options available. Here are some of the most common options:

Topical Creams

Topical creams can also be used to help treat armpit rashes in dogs. These creams can help soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. Some common topical creams used for this kind of skin issue include hydrocortisone cream and neem oil.

Home Remedies

Several home remedies can be used to help treat armpit rashes in dogs. These include:

  • Bathing your dog with a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo;
  • Applying a warm compress to the affected area;
  • Using aloe vera gel to soothe the skin; and
  • Applying coconut oil to the affected area to help reduce inflammation.

It is important to note that while home remedies can be effective, they should not be used as a substitute for veterinary care. 


In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help treat your dog’s armpit irritations. These may include antibiotics to treat any bacterial infections, antifungal medications to treat any fungal infections, or steroids to help reduce inflammation.

Preventive Measures

Preventing dog skin issue is more accessible than treating it. Here are some preventive measures that we can take to avoid this condition.

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming is essential to keep your dog’s skin healthy and clean. Grooming includes brushing your dog’s coat, trimming their nails, and cleaning their ears. It is also essential to pay attention to your dog’s armpits during grooming. Keep the area clean and dry to prevent any bacterial or fungal infections.

Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is crucial for your dog’s overall health and well-being. A well-balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients can help keep your dog’s skin healthy and prevent any skin conditions.

Regular Vet Checkups

Regular vet checkups are essential to catch any health issues early on. Your vet can identify any underlying health problems that may cause skin conditions like dog armpit rash. They can also provide you with preventive measures and advice on how to keep your dog healthy and happy.

When to Consult a Vet

If you notice that your dog’s armpit rash is not improving after a few days of home treatment, it’s time to consult a vet. A vet can diagnose the underlying cause of the rash and recommend appropriate treatment.

  • The rash is spreading rapidly;
  • Your dog is excessively scratching or biting at the affected area; and
  • The rash is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, lethargy, or loss of appetite.

If you’re unsure whether your dog’s rash requires veterinary care, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek professional advice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the common causes of rashes in dogs?

There are many potential causes of dog rashes, including allergies, bacterial or fungal infections, and parasites such as fleas or mites. Dogs can also develop rashes from contact with irritants like chemicals or plants.

What are the symptoms of a dog rash?

Symptoms of a dog rash can include redness, itching, swelling, and scaly or flaky skin. Some rashes may also have a foul odor or discharge.

How can I tell if my dog has a yeast infection?

Yeast infections in dogs often cause itchy, red, and inflamed skin with a greasy or oily appearance. Dogs may also have a yeasty odor or discharge.

What are some home remedies for dog rashes?

Some home remedies for dog rashes include oatmeal baths, apple cider vinegar rinses, and coconut oil. It’s important to note that not all home remedies are safe or effective, so it’s best to consult with a veterinarian before trying any at-home treatments.

What are some over-the-counter creams for dog rashes?

Some over-the-counter creams for dog rashes include hydrocortisone cream and antifungal creams like miconazole or clotrimazole. Again, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before using any medications on your dog.

How can I prevent my dog from getting a rash in their armpits?

Preventing dog rashes in the armpit area can be done by keeping the area clean and dry, avoiding irritants, and using a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo during baths. Regular grooming and flea prevention can also help keep your dog’s skin healthy.

Final Thoughts

As a pet owner, it’s essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of specific conditions and to take action as soon as possible to prevent it from getting worse.

Prevention is critical when it comes to dog armpit rash. Avoiding allergens, regular grooming, and hygiene practices can help keep your dog’s skin healthy and free from irritation. If you notice any signs of a rash, such as loss of hair, swelling, or itching, be sure to take your dog to consult the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

In some cases, home remedies may be effective in treating mild cases. However, it’s important to follow your vets advice when trying any new treatments or remedies. They can help you determine the best course of action for your dog’s specific needs.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.