Canine acne may be ugly, causing your pooch to have low self-esteem, but it’s essentially a benign, self-limiting problem that, as with humans, is an adolescent issue, by and large. This condition can show up right about the time your dog enters puberty—at approximately 5–8 months of age. Most often, the condition improves without face wash or pimple cream by the time yourdog reaches his first birthday.
Red bumps and blackheads are often found on the chin and lips of young dogs. Sometimes, they can become infected and filled with pus, causing your pup to seek relief by scratching her face against things like the beige dining room rug or your favorite recliner, leaving an unsightly stain.
Short–coated dogs such as boxers, bulldogs and rottweilers tend to be stricken with acne more often than other breeds. Why do some dogs get acne while others don’t? No one really knows. As with people, genetics, hormones, and trauma may play a heavy hand in why some dogs develop a “pizza face.”
While acne is more of an eyesore than anything else, there are other diseases that can look similar and should be ruled out by your veterinarian. Two of the most common conditions are a noncontagious type of mange called demodicosis, and a fungal infection called ringworm.
Once your veterinarian has diagnosed your best friend with acne, they will prescribe a canine-specific acne treatment that is safe for your dog—similar to what people use for acne, such as benzoyl peroxide, but at a much lower concentration.
Depending on the cause of your dog’s acne, your veterinarian may recommend a change of diet, removing any materials that may continue to cause irritation. They also might recommend changing your pet’s bowls from plastic to metal or porcelain, and cleaning them daily.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Bill Saxon DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC
Dog Skin Conditions & Zits
If not dog pimples then what is it and how do you treat it?
As said above, it’s possible that your dog doesn’t have acne and he has another skin condition that just looks like pimples. Again, this can only be decided by your vet and shouldn’t be treated at home without medical guidance.
Sebaceous cysts can look very much like huge zits on dogs and it is one of the more common skin conditions in dogs. They occur when the sebaceous glands (that produce oil) become blocked and enlarged. They can range in size from small mosquito-bite sized to two inches across. Inside is a white, greasy fluid that looks like glue or cottage cheese that consists of oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. This is
Dogs have many skin conditions, just like their human friends.
Sometimes they’ll rupture, reminding many owners of a giant whitehead, or the encased material can be manually squeezed out. Very large, irritated cysts have to be surgically removed (one reason among many that vet surgical tech has become a specialty).
Hives appear suddenly but chronic allergic reactions can be mistaken for acne. Hives are typically noticed on the face because there’s less hair present, but very large hives can be felt all over the body. Facial swelling might accompany the hives, thus eliminating the possibility that it’s acne. Your dog might sneeze or rub his face because it itches and his entire body might become red and irritated.
Dog Skin Allergies
Can pet allergies cause acne?
If you suspect your dog is having an allergic reaction to something (most commonly the food they eat), you should consult with your vet to decide on a course of antihistamine treatment. Facial swelling should be seen immediately by the vet to prevent your dog’s airway from being compromised due to the swelling.
Skin allergies in dogs should be taken seriously which means what they eat matters and not any dog food will do. If that’s the case, then you need to look for the best food for dogs with skin allergies and create a custom meal plan from one of these subscription services. Which would mean paying a bit more than usual.
Demodectic mange is a type of mange caused by the Demodex mite. When these mites overtake the dog’s skin, it can lead to hair loss, painful skin lesions, and even immune disorders. The infection can affect just specific areas of the body or the entire body. Some dogs might have patchy hair loss, while others will lose most of the hair on their body.
A few signed to check for if they have hair loss would be:
- Red skin
- Constant irritation and itchy skin
- At times their skin can get scaly as well
Your vet (or the assisting vet tech) will take a skin scraping and look at it under the microscope to find evidence of the mites. Severe cases will require medicated baths and even steroids to alleviate the itching and inflammation.
It goes without saying that any time you find a lump on your dog, no matter the size, you should take them to the vet.
Does pet insurance cover skin allergies?
Yes, it does. Its a type of autoimmune disease (a minor one), and should be treated as such by your insurance company. If not, then I suggest you try switching to Embrace Pet Insurance. It’s my new favorite insurance for my doggo.v
One thing is important for you to know is that no pet insurance company covers pre-existing conditions. So if your pet already exhibiting signs or symptoms of skin allergies and you are looking into getting pet insurance for the first time, this may be considered a pre-existing condition. You should bring it up with your insurance provider.
One thing for sure though, skin problems in dogs are unpleasant at best. Hopefully, it’s something as simple as acne, but it’s possible that it’s slightly more serious. Only a veterinarian can decide what’s a threat to your dog’s health and what’s relatively benign, but it’s also important to seek the proper treatment so your dog is as comfortable as possible.
If you are worried about the cost of calling your vet it reminds me when I had my first puppy. As concerned as I was I always worried about the costs first which wasn’t fair to my pupper.
That’s one reason I eventually decided to get dog insurance is so I can stop worrying and focus more on my pup’s health than trying home remedy after home remedy to avoid the vet’s bill.
Video: How To Treat Canine Acne
The skin around the genital area (including the vulva, anus, and the part below the tail) may as well be affected by dog pimples and so can the flank region (the area on the side of the dog lying between the end of the chest and the hind leg).
The flank is what people actually refer to most of the time when they express concern about dog pimples on dog’s stomach, belly, or tummy.
Acne bumps hardly develop on dog’s back (i.e. the real back and the loin areas).
Dog pimples (as in the sense of true pimples) are not the only bumps associated with acne in dogs. The condition may as well be characterized by whiteheads and blackheads and in case of severe irritation, there may be some bleeding and pus discharge from the bumps.
Dog pimples (and other lesions associated with dog acne such as whiteheads and blackheads) usually begins forming at puberty, that is between 5 and 8 months of age, hence the common name dog puberty pimples. It is for this reason that some people also refer to dog pimples as puppy pimples. Acne-induced pimples on dog’s skin are typically short-lived, hardly extending beyond one year of age.
Although rare, dogs aged over 1 year may as well suffer from acne pimples.
Dog pimples (usually red bumps) may be accompanied by other symptoms and signs that are characteristic of dog acne including:
- Popped pimples
- Scars (just like human acne, dog acne can cause scarring)
- Intense itching, evidenced by scratching and rubbing against surfaces e.g. carpets, furniture, etc.
- Pain when the pimples and other lesions are touched
- Pus accumulation and discharge in the lesions due to bacterial infection
Dog breeds that have less dense coats e.g. Boxers, Rottweilers, and Bulldogs are more susceptible to dog acne.
What Causes Acne to Develop on Dogs?
For some reasons, acne is seen almost exclusively in large breeds of dog with short hair, such as dobermans, boxers, pugs, rottweillers, great danes, mastiffs, and German short-haired pointers.
This dog skin problem usually plagues dogs in their "teenage" years. Generally speaking, puppies from 3 months of age and above can get acne.
Veterinarians are not sure what causes acne to develop on dogs. Some suggested causes are:
- Inflammation of blocked oil glands caused by scratching
- Hormonal imbalance especially in young dogs and puppies which can be associated with puberty.
It is also believed that poor grooming and hygiene can contribute to the formation of acne in dogs and puppies.