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Can dogs get pimples? Yes, canine acne is one of many skin conditions that commonly affect our pups. How do you know if those bumps on your dog’s face are pimples or another skin problem? Dog acne isn’t exactly the same as its human counterpart, so we’ll help you know how to spot it, your treatment options, and more.
Canine acne is an inflammatory disorder that affects the lips, the skin around the mouth, and the chin. Acne can occur due to folliculitis — when hair follicles become irritated and inflamed — or due to furunculosis — when the inflamed hair follicles become infected, pus-filled, and painful. Left untreated, severe dog acne can cause permanent scarring.
What Do Dog Pimples Look Like?
Mild cases of dog acne look like small red bumps or pustules (pimples). In more severe cases, these bumps can cause overall swelling of the lips and muzzle. As the condition progresses, the bumps grow, begin to drain fluid, and can become infected, causing more serious problems for your pup. Infected dog acne can look like red, oozing sores, bleeding wounds, or scabs.
The underlying cause of dog acne remains relatively uncertain. Previously, some believed that canine acne was hormone-related, like with humans, but some recent research indicates that this is not a primary cause. However, it’s generally thought that the following factors may contribute to and trigger dog and puppy acne:
- Age – many cases of dog acne occur between five months and one year of age
- Trauma to the skin of the chin or muzzle (from rubbing the face on a rough surface, rough play, etc.)
- Underlying skin allergies that cause itching and rubbing of the face
- Genetic predisposition with some short hair breeds – Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, English Bulldogs, Great Danes, German Short Haired Pointers, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, and Weimaraners
In most cases, dog and puppy acne is easy for veterinarians to diagnose by its appearance. But your vet may want to take a sample of the bump to rule out other possible conditions — demodicosis (a type of mange), ringworm (a fungal infection), or puppy strangles (a skin disorder affecting puppies that can resemble acne).
If your vet suspects that your dog’s acne is infected, they may do a bacterial culture and sensitivity, which can help your vet identify the specific bacteria causing the infection and the best antibiotic to prescribe for treatment.
Dog acne treatment depends on the severity of the condition. For mild cases, topical benzoyl peroxide is effective. This is available at your vet’s office or over-the-counter, but be sure to get the appropriate instructions from your vet on how often (and for how long) to apply the ointment.
Depending on the severity of your dog’s acne, veterinarians also recommend several other treatments. These include oral or topical steroids to decrease inflamed skin and topical antibiotics to minimize bacteria on the skin and help prevent infection. If your dog’s pimples are infected, your veterinarian may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic.
Dog Acne Home Remedies
The best home remedy for dog zits involves measures you can take to minimize and prevent acne flare-ups.
- Wash your dog’s face every day with mild soap and warm water.
- Clean your dog’s mouth after meals if he’s a messy eater.
- Keep your dog’s face dry. Bacteria can thrive on moist skin. If your dog has skin folds, be sure to keep those dry as well.
- Using a dog shampoo with benzoyl peroxide can help flush out bacteria and keep the hair follicles clean.
- Brush your dog’s teeth every day to keep bacteria from getting on his lips and muzzle.
Here are some questions our readers ask most often about dog pimples.
Is Popping Dog Pimples Okay?
Never pop your pup’s zits. Popping a dog’s pimples can harm his skin. It can cause the pimples to become infected and also spread pus around that could cause even more breakouts.
Can I Use Hydrogen Peroxide For Dog Acne?
No, most veterinarians recommend not using hydrogen peroxide on dog acne or to clean wounds. It can damage dogs’ skin cells and delay healing.
What About Coconut Oil For Dog Acne?
While coconut oil has some natural antibiotic and antiseptic properties, it’s not helpful for dog acne and can make things worse. Coconut oil is thick and greasy and clogs up the hair follicles, creating an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
Allergies could be the culprit of your furry friend’s acne. Have you noticed your dog scratching excessively or patches of irritated skin on other areas of his body? If so, he could have allergies to his food or environmental factors. You may want to consider getting an at-home dog allergy test to learn more about specific things he’s allergic to. You can take the results to your vet to determine the best treatment plan for your pup.
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