Pink can be a stunning color on a human, but it’s unlikely you are thrilled with the color on your dog. Your dog’s fur turning pink can be a sign of a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Why has my dog’s fur turned pink?
It’s a common issue for dogs with white or light-colored fur. However, it can be disappointing when your dog’s pearly white coat turns pink or even brown. It’s important to note that dogs with dark coats can also get staining. It generally appears red on a darker coat, but occurs for the same reasons.
Your dog’s fur is likely turning pink due to compounds in their bodily fluids called porphyrins. It has the greatest concentration in your dog’s tears and saliva, which is why these are the most common areas that turn pink.
Porphyrins are a component of hemoglobin. When bodily fluids come into contact with fur, porphyrins are left behind. When they interact with oxygen in the air, they turn pink, red, or brown, because they contain iron. The process is similar to rust on metal.
Saliva and Tears
It’s normal to see staining around the mouth and eyes because saliva and tears contain porphyrins. Dogs naturally produce saliva and tears, and some of it is bound to get on their fur. It should be limited to these areas and appear in small amounts. If it appears excessive, there may be a problem that needs to be addressed.
Because your dog’s saliva contains porphyrins, excessive licking will cause pink stains in the area. If your dog is developing stains on their body or paws, this is the likely culprit.
Food allergies can cause excessive licking, which will cause stains on your dog’s fur. Signs of food allergies in dogs include itching, poor coat quality, biting, and ear infections.
Your dog can also have gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. Rashes are another sign, but they can be difficult to spot because of your dog’s fur.
Like humans, dogs can be allergic to any substance. However, some allergies are more common than others. Common allergens include corn, soy, wheat, eggs, and dairy. Potential protein allergens include beef, pork, lamb, and fish.
Environmental allergies can also cause your dog’s fur to turn pink. This often occurs around the eyes, because allergies cause increased tear production. However, dogs with allergies may also lick more often, causing staining in other areas.
Anxiety or OCD
Behavioral issues can also be the cause of your dog’s pink fur. Dogs release oxytocin when they lick, which makes them feel calmer and happier.
Licking is used for many purposes, like grooming and showing affection. It is also a comforting mechanism. If your dog is stressed or anxious, they may lick themselves to calm down. When licking occurs frequently, it can be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder, known as OCD.
Mouth problems can also cause fur staining. If your dog has significant staining around the mouth, this could be the cause. Dental problems and mouth abnormalities cause excess saliva. This saliva stains the mouth.
Eye issues can also cause staining. When staining around the eyes occurs, it can be caused by allergies, eye infection, trauma, or cancer of the eye. Allergies and eye infections are the most common cause of pink fur around the eyes.
Yeast infection is the most common type of skin infection in dogs. This yeast is always present on a dog’s skin. However, when it gets out of control, it causes infection. This infection is itchy, which causes the dog to lick the area. The licking causes their fur to turn pink. Other types of skin infections can also cause excessive licking.
Parasites can also cause excessive licking, which can turn your dog’s fur pink. The most common culprit is fleas. If you notice pink on your dog’s fur, check for fleas. If you see them scratching frequently, fleas may be the problem.
Sun Exposure (dark fur)
Sun exposure is a little-known reason for pink fur. Sun bleaches hair. Humans who spend lots of time in the sun notice their hair turns lighter. The same is true for your dog.
If your dog has dark-colored fur, the sun can bleach it. When this occurs, it can have a pink or red tinge, because it will turn red before it turns yellow.
What to do about my dog’s pink fur?
If you want to get rid of your dog’s pink fur, there are things you can do. This starts by determining the cause and learning how to remedy it.
Natural vs. Problematic Staining
The first thing you’ll need to do is determine if the staining is occurring due to an underlying problem. If your dog has pink or red only around the eyes and mouth in small amounts, this is completely normal. If staining is excessive or occurring in other areas, there’s a problem that should be addressed.
If you suspect your dog has food allergies, there are tests that can provide needed answers. You can purchase a home test kit or have your vet perform the tests.
An elimination diet can also reveal food allergies. However, it is a difficult process. You’ll need to eliminate all but one or two ingredients from your dog’s diet for two weeks. Slowly add ingredients back into the diet one at a time. If you notice symptoms when reintroducing a food, your dog is allergic.
Elimination diets are often used to confirm findings found in tests. Allergens are discovered with tests and then avoided. If symptoms subside, your dog was allergic to the ingredient.
Environmental allergens can be harder to treat. Some, like dust, are impossible to fully avoid. Your dog may require antihistamines to control environmental allergens. You may also need to take steps to limit their exposure.
If your dog has a skin infection, it will likely require a vet visit. Bacterial infections are treated with topical or oral antibiotics. Fungal infections, like yeast, are treated with antifungal creams and medications.
To soothe your dog’s skin at home, try a paste of half baking soda and half water. Apply and let sit for 20 minutes. Then rinse completely. Oatmeal added to the bathwater can also help soothe itchy skin. However, these remedies are not a replacement for veterinary care.
Anxiety or OCD
If your dog’s fur staining is caused by anxiety or OCD, you’ll need to start by trying to determine the cause. Has there been a change in your dog’s schedule or environment, like a new family member or pet?
Has your dog had a recent traumatic experience like being startled by a loud noise or a fight with another dog? Could they be bored? Any of these factors can cause OCD licking.
You may need to speak to your vet or a dog behavioral specialist to help your dog with their issue. In severe cases, your vet can prescribe anxiety medication. However, lifestyle and behavioral remedies should be the first-line treatment.
Mouth or Eye Problems
If you suspect your dog has mouth or eye problems causing staining, you’ll need to visit your vet for treatment.
If you can’t determine the cause of your dog’s pink fur, it’s time for a vet visit. It can be a sign of many issues that may not be readily apparent.
How do I get the red out of my white dog’s fur?
It’s important to know how to solve underlying conditions causing your dog’s fur to turn pink or red, but many owners also want to know how to remove the red stains.
A whitening shampoo is designed to gently brighten your dog’s coat and lift stains. It’s gentle and can improve coat quality as well. Let the shampoo sit on your dog for five minutes, focusing on areas with stains. Then rinse.
Tear Stain Remover
Tear stain remover is designed to be gentle enough to use around the eyes. It can be used to remove tear stains and stains around the mouth.
Baking soda is a natural bleaching agent. Mix a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to your dog’s coat. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and then rinse. This is also great for your dog’s skin, so it’s an ideal choice if skin infection or allergies are to blame.
If the stains are dark, it may require a second application.
Corn Starch and Peroxide
A mixture of corn starch and peroxide can also remove stains. Make a paste and apply it to your dog’s fur. Let it st for 20-30 minutes and rinse.
Pet wipes are a great way to keep your dog clean in between baths. They can help prevent staining by removing saliva and tears before they can cause staining.
The longer the fur is, the more moisture it is able to absorb. Trimming your dog’s fur, particularly around the mouth and eyes, can help you remove or prevent staining.
Adding a tablespoon of vinegar to your dog’s water can help prevent stains. It makes the bodily fluids more acidic, which helps break down the chemicals that cause stains. The higher acidity level also helps keep yeast under control.