Why Are My Dog’s Balls Peeling?

Photo by Tony Alter on Flickr

Why are my dog’s balls peeling? Now that’s an unusual question, one you don’t expect to hear in polite company, yet a valid concern for many pet owners. You’re probably seen your dog licking his privates a thousand times and you know what those parts look like. You don’t remember any peeling so it’s quite natural to be worried. There are many reasons why a dog’s testicles are peeling or why they change color. In most cases, it’s nothing serious, although you should see a vet at some point.

In this article, you’ll be looking at the most common causes why your dog’s scrotum skin is peeling. We’ll also explain why the dog’s testicles might turn black or red. 

What’s the normal color for a dog’s scrotum?

Generally speaking, a dog’s scrotum is gray. Maybe a light gray, maybe a darker shade, you get the idea. The exact color is dictated by skin pigmentation. If your dog has a dark coat and dark skin on the abdomen, the balls will also be rather dark. It is not uncommon to notice pink spots on your puppy’s scrotum, but those are only temporary.  

Now, let’s focus on what problems might cause a change in color and peeling of the scrotum skin.

Your dog has a skin problem

The simplest explanation is often the right one. If your dog’s balls are black and peeling, this means he must have developed a skin irritation. If the skin in that very delicate area becomes dry, it will also be itchy. The only way a dog can deal with such a problem is to lick his balls. Unfortunately, this is not a great idea. The skin on his balls will inevitably become more irritated, and more itchy. If you don’t stop him from licking himself, he might develop an infection, in which case he’ll also be in pain. Let’s have a look at the most common skin conditions in dogs that might also affect the scrotum area.

Dry skin

Everyone, dog or dog owner, can have dry skin. It might be caused by the weather or by dietary issues. Maybe his skin is flaking all over his body, but you only noticed that his balls are peeling. Also, dogs have a clear preference for licking their balls and he’s focusing on those even if the rest of his skin is also itchy. You can help your dog by making sure he gets food that is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Also, you can apply coconut oil or Vaseline on his scrotum. Oily substances can resolve dry skin by locking in moisture, and neither of them are toxic. Don’t try to use any moisturizer you might have around the house, no matter how good you think it is. These are created for creatures who are not in the habit of licking themselves. If you apply them on your dog he might ingest certain compounds that are toxic. 

Allergies

Dogs are allergic to a great number of things, starting with food and ending with insect bites. Try to examine the area if the dog allows that and see if you can find any sort of puncture. If your dog has fleas or ticks he might be having an allergic reaction to that. See if there are any signs of rash on the belly and check out the most common allergy symptoms in dogs, such as swelling of the face, sneezing, or itchiness in other parts of the body. If you believe your dog might have an allergy, see the vet and have them prescribe some antihistamine. They might also recommend something to soothe the itching peeling balls, but you need to address the underlying issue as well.

Contact dermatitis

This is very similar to an allergic reaction and is a reaction of the skin when it comes in contact with an irritant, such as poison ivy, fertilizers or chemicals used to treat the lawn. If you’ve been using something of the kind in your garden, that would explain why your dog’s balls are now irritated and itchy.  Contact dermatitis doesn’t require medical treatment. Simply keep the dog away from whatever caused the problem and give him a soothing bath using a hypoallergenic shampoo.

Why are my dog’s balls black and peeling?

As a dog grows older it sometimes happens that his scrotum will turn almost black. This is entirely natural and has to do with changing levels of pigmentation in the skin. In most cases the transition is gradual so you probably won’t even notice it.

Injury

However, there are certain situations when the dog’s balls turn black suddenly and this is a very worrying symptom. If the dog’s balls turn dark blue or black overnight that’s a sign or trauma. Maybe your dog hurt his most sensitive parts while jumping around, but you should also check the area for scrapes, puncture marks or insect bites. If the dog hurt himself, there’s bound to be some bruising, which should explain the dark color. What about the peeling?

Peeling might appear if the skin becomes irritated. An insect bite can do that. Or it might be that your pet irritated the skin on his scrotum by licking himself to soothe the pain. 

If there’s any sign of injury you should apply an antiseptic ointment to prevent infection. If you don’t see any injury, just apply some Vaseline. The bruising should disappear in a couple of days and the dog’s balls will return to their normal color.

Testicular torsion

Testicular torsion is a condition when one or both testickes become twisted on the connective tissue in the scrotum. It can be caused by a trauma, such as a puncture wound which allows bacteria to penetrate into the skin. If an inflammation occurs, you will notice some swelling in the area. Also, as the testicular torsion cuts off the blood supply to the testicles they might turn a dark color, so you’ll get the impression the dog’s balls have turned black. It is a very painful condition and excessive licking might cause some peeling of the scrotum. 

This condition requires immediate medical attention. Your dog will require antibiotics and maybe an ointment to treat the inflammation. Once the inflammation is cured, your dog’s balls will return to their normal size and color. If the dog’s balls are peeling you will deal with this problem only after the infection is gone. 

Why are my dog’s balls peeling after neutering?

This is a common problem after neutering. Many pet parents call their vet to complain that their dog’s scrotum is black and quite swollen. Should I be worried about that, doctor? The answer is no. It’s a normal thing after neutering surgery. The skin of the scrotum is very delicate and the incision made by the vet is a trauma after all. There’s bound to be some swelling. And some discomfort. In most cases, doctors recommend fitting the dog with a cone to stop him from liking the area. This will help the incision wound heal faster and prevent irritation or infection. 

If your dog’s balls are peeling after neutering, this might be because the skin was irritated during the surgery. This might be caused by the doctor’s intervention or by a reaction to the disinfectants used to clean the area prior to the surgery. 

Your doctor might prescribe some soothing ointment if there’s serious peeling, but otherwise they will probably tell you to continue with the antiseptic ointment. The priority here is to prevent infection. The peeling problem can wait. 

In a few days, the swelling should be gone and the empty scrotum will lie flat against the body, unless, of course, you opt for prosthetic balls. Many pet parents do so their dog won’t know his testicles are gone. 

Why are my dog’s balls red and peeling?

This is a serious problem. No, the fact that the dog’s balls are peeling is not that important, but the redness is. When the dog’s scrotum becomes bright red that’s a clear sign of infection. This might have been caused by trauma or a puncture that allowed some virus, bacteria or fungi to make their way inside the scrotum. You should have your dog examined by a vet as soon as possible. Your vet will need to run some tests to establish the exact nature of the infection to be able to prescribe the appropriate treatment. In some cases, the dog will have to wear a cone to keep him from licking his balls and make the situation worse. 

On the other hand, if the dog’s balls become red it might be because he has an UTI. He’s probably had it for some time but you didn’t notice. If it reached the scrotum it’s clear that it’s widespread and your dog needs a course of antibiotics right away.

Closing thoughts

If your dog’s balls are peeling, don’t immediately assume he has a serious problem. It might be a simple skin irritation that will go away with a soothing bath and an ointment.  However, if the dog’s scrotum appears to be swollen and it’s an unusual color, like red or black, you should have him examined. He might have injured himself or he might have an infection. If you notice some swelling and peeling after his neutering surgery, that’s to be expected. Keep him under observation for a few days. If the symptoms do not go away, or if you notice any sign of infection then go see the vet.