Why Is My Dog's Body Covered in Bumps or Welts?

Updated on May 24, 2019
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and the author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Bumps or welts on your dog's body may be caused by a number of environmental triggers.
Bumps or welts on your dog's body may be caused by a number of environmental triggers. | Source

What Are These Bumps, Hives, or Welts on My Dog's Skin?

Urticaria is the medical term used to denote the presence of hives, welts, or wheels on a dog's skin. The skin rash presents as uncomfortable raised, red, itchy bumps. The welts can be localized on the dog's head, legs, belly, or back, or they can be widespread all over the dog's body and may come and go. Some dog owners describe the welts as dime-sized bumps on the dog's skin.

While there are many causes of welts in dogs, they often tend to result from an acute (arising suddenly) allergic reaction. A common culprit can be vaccinations, which is why vets often recommend keeping an eye on the dog for the first few hours after receiving shots. Other causes are from allergic reactions and exposure to certain types of plants, insect bites, household chemicals, medications, foods, and even stress. In some cases, the presence of welts may be indicative of other medical conditions. This article will focus on welts triggered by allergic reactions.

Common Causes of Welts on Dogs

Grass Pollen
Insect Bites or Stings
Dust Mites
Food and Medication
Misc. Environmental Allergens
Mold Spores
Chemical Exposure

Why Does My Dog Get Welts on Their Body?

When it comes to allergic reactions, welts can form when there is direct contact with an irritant. In this case, it's called "contact dermatitis," and the allergic reaction is mostly localized to the area that came in contact with the allergen. The welts or rash will, therefore, often show up on the dog's feet and the belly area if the dog happens to lie down on the trigger. Inhaled allergens such as grass pollen, dust mites, or mold can also cause welts, as well as insect bites. Sometimes, the actual trigger may be difficult to pinpoint and the underlying cause of the welts on the dog's skin will remain a mystery. A veterinary dermatologist may test for some common allergens, but the process can be costly and challenging at times.

Above: Testing a dog for allergies as they do in human medicine with transdermal injections.
Above: Testing a dog for allergies as they do in human medicine with transdermal injections. | Source

What Causes Welts?

When the dog's immune system reacts to an allergen, mast cells in its bloodstream release the compound histamine. Histamine triggers small blood vessels under the dog's skin to leak. The accumulated fluid, therefore, forms large welts.

Welts Can Indicate a Risk for Complications

One concern about welts is that they can sometimes be accompanied by swelling of the lips, nose, and eyes, which is medically termed angioedema. The eye swelling may be so severe that a dog cannot open its eyes, and these cases may require antihistamines and injectable steroids. Serious cases may also spread to the throat (laryngeal edema), which can block the dog's airway and lead to anaphylactic shock. Other accompanying symptoms may include:

  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • shock
  • pale gums
  • cold legs
  • incoordination
  • sudden collapse
  • convulsions
  • death

In an emergency situation, time is of the essence. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, dogs can die from anaphylaxis within minutes. These dogs need immediate veterinary attention which typically requires a shot of life-saving epinephrine. For those curious to know, yes, they do make epi-pens for dogs!

Respiratory distress can occur if the angioedema involves the nares, larynx, or pharynx.

— Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD
Time is of the essence in a veterinary emergency.
Time is of the essence in a veterinary emergency.

Veterinary Treatment for Welts in Dogs

In order to address welts in dogs, the underlying allergy needs to be pinpointed. Benadryl is an antihistamine that blocks the release of histamine and can help provide relief. According to veterinarian Dr. Christine M.:

Plain Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can be given at a dose of 1 mg per pound of body weight every 12 hours until the dog's symptoms are gone.

It's always best to consult with a veterinarian before giving Benadryl to dogs and to discontinue its use if the dog shows behavior changes such as excitement or lethargy. Benadryl should not be given to dogs suffering from glaucoma. Other prescription medications include Claritin (loratadine) and Atarax (hydroxyzine), which are to be given under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Prescription Steroids

For severe reactions, steroids are sometimes given as a shot or as an oral medication (i.e., prednisone), but these drugs can have uncomfortable or severe side effects at times and suppress the immune system. In some cases, the dog may develop welts again once the steroid is out of its system.

Antibiotics for Secondary Infections

When dogs have rashes, the constant itching and scratching may cause lesions and secondary bacterial or yeast infections; this may require a course of antibiotics. A veterinarian will need to diagnose these secondary skin conditions by analyzing a skin sample under the microscope. The infections are often treated with antifungal or antibacterial shampoos such as chlorhexidine shampoo for bacterial infections and Malaseb shampoo (an antifungal).

It is important to find out which environmental allergen is triggering your dog's welts.
It is important to find out which environmental allergen is triggering your dog's welts. | Source

Natural Remedies for Nonsevere Dog Welts

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 Fatty Acids are also beneficial for the skin, but may take some time to kick in and provide relief. Veterinarian Dr. Kara recommends combining fatty acids and antihistamines as they are more effective in combination rather than when used individually.
  • Bathing Under Cool Water: Bathing may provide relief as it minimizes the time an allergen is in contact with the skin (pollen and grass accumulate on the skin). Oatmeal baths are soothing for dogs with allergies also.
  • A Hypoallergenic Diet: If the vet suspects that the welts derive from a food allergy, a special hypoallergenic diet may be recommended. This means no more table scraps or treats. Common prescription diets often contain novel proteins a dog has not been exposed to before. Hypoallergenic diets need to be followed for at least 2 to 3 months or more for the effects to be seen.


This article is not meant to be used as a substitute for veterinary advice. If your dog has welts, please see your veterinarian.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • What does a welt look like on a dog?

    Welts in dogs typically appear as raised areas of the skin varying in shape and size. They are often itchy.

  • How long does it take for welts to fade away on a dog?

    This depends by a variety of factors such as how severe the reaction is, whether the trigger is still around (is the dog still exposed to it? It's hard to say if the trigger remains unknown) and whether medications are given. Some dogs have them just for several minutes, others for hours and some for several days.

    Often, Benadryl is not enough to control hives in dogs, and stronger meds such as prednisone are needed. Please see your vet for proper treatment. Sometimes welts may progress and cause trouble breathing which may turn into a life-threatening situation.

  • We have tried so many things with our puppy. He is 4 months old and has had hives for 7 weeks now. What else can we do for our puppy's hives?

    Have you seen a board-certified dermatologist? If you have had repeated vet visits and got you nowhere, have tried medications, food trials etc. it may be time to see a specialist who has made of skin problems the area of specialty.

© 2016 Adrienne Farricelli


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      My dog has had allergies for years, just recently I was told he needed a L.I.D. went on that and the hives and itching gets worse. The food he was on we did not have hives but we had issues with licking and chewing feet...frustrating.

    • profile image

      Nathan Davis 

      7 months ago

      Vaccine damage.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      13 months ago

      Linda H, this can be quite frustrating to deal with. There are so many possible causes it can be overwhelming. Plastic food bowls, chemicals on the floor, laundry detergent used to wash bedding, ingredients in foods are just a few examples. Sometimes, vets (and human doctors too!) find it easier to give meds to control the welts than try to pinpoint the exact cause.

    • profile image

      Linda H 

      13 months ago

      I have 2 boxers, one is having raised bumps in the morning. The bumps go away for the day but returns the next morning. I haven't changed anything. Any suggestions.

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      Thank you soooo much this is what i wanted to read!

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      My dog has all the symptoms mentioned regarding allergies. Steroids is you’re only hope. Not even a vet can figure it out. They prefer not to give steroids however it’s they only alternative. Anything else is a waste of money and time.

    • profile image

      Jackie Karp 

      22 months ago

      Will coconut oil help with a million. Bumps that are bleeding

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      My yorkie has bumps all over her body, the grass is high and she had a ant in her coat when I bathe her last nite

    • profile image

      Gina Auton 

      2 years ago


    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thank you. Helpful article!

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      4 years ago

      Thanks all! This is important information to be aware of as dogs can be prone to allergic reactions and welts in dogs may not be readily identified as they look different than welts in humans.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I like the way you write about our friendly pets. Informative and always useful.

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Interesting article. I have never noticed welts on my dog's body but she is 11 and has had hot spots and fatty tumors. Thanks for this information though. Very thorough article.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      4 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Very interesting article and good advice. I have always used benadryl for my dogs. I am lucky my smaller dogs do not seem to get much of anything.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)