Treating a Red Rash on a Dog’s Belly

How to treat a rash on your dog’s belly and/or inner thighs.


Your dog rolls over for a belly rub, and you notice a red rash on their stomach or thighs. It may or may not itch, but it’s decidedly not normal. How do you treat a red rash on a dog’s belly?

Usually, a red rash on a dog’s belly and inner thighs is due to allergies. It could be because of new carpets or bedding, or from running through tall grass or brush, or a host of other things. However, a red rash on the belly can also be the first sign of a serious skin issue like mange, which is caused by mites.

If it’s the first time you’ve seen a rash on your dog’s belly, it’s wise to make a veterinary appointment, especially if your dog is itchy or uncomfortable. Getting a correct diagnosis helps target the best treatments for whatever issue your dog is experiencing and helps resolve it most quickly.

If you’re not able to quickly see a veterinarian, there are first-aid treatments that are generally safe to try at home:

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Bathing: Bathe your dog with a mild dog shampoo to remove allergens he may have picked up in his coat. Mild shampoos are often marketed as for sensitive skin or as hypoallergenic, such as Allergroom or Epi-Soothe from Virbac. If bathing is not possible, you can use an unscented baby wet wipe. Be sure to wipe down not only his belly, but also all four limbs.

Triple Antibiotic Ointment: If there are lesions that look like pimples or scabs, you can use over-the-counter topical triple antibiotic ointment on the lesions twice a day for up to seven days. Watch him closely for 10 to 15 minutes, and do not let him lick it off.

Cortisone Cream: If there are no lesions, just overall redness, it is usually OK to apply over-the-counter topical 1% cortisone cream twice a day for one to three days. When using cortisone cream this way, if anything seems to worsen instead of improving, stop using the cream immediately and see your veterinarian. Never use cortisone topically for more than a few days without consulting your veterinarian first. And, again, don’t let the dog lick it off.

Antihistamines: Some oral antihistamines are generally safe to use in dogs when an allergic reaction is suspected. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is the most common choice. The dosage for dogs is 1 mg per pound of body weight two to three times daily (once every 8 to 12 hours). So, a 25-lb. dog would take 25 mg. A 50-lb. dog would take 50 mg, and so on. Always be sure you look at the label on the box to see how much medication is in the product you’re purchasing. Regular diphenhydramine contains 25 mg per tablet, but extra-strength medications may contain 50 mg per tablet. Choose the tablet form and put it in a pill-hiding treat of some type.

If Benadryl doesn’t seem to help, talk to your veterinarian about other over-the-counter antihistamines that are safe for you to try and at what dosages. These might include loratidine (Claritin), ceterizine (Zyrtec), and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton). Make sure your veterinarian knows what, if any, other medications your dog is taking.