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Dog Acne: Prevention, Care, and Tips

Can dogs get pimples? What about acne? Remarkably, yes, they can! 

Canine acne is a common condition that is also easily treatable. If your dog happens to have acne, relax – we'll help dispel the myths around it and give you some top tips for treatments. 

What is Dog Acne?

We know that dogs can get pimples. However, the bumps on a dog's skin are not the same as human pimples. How dog acne appears varies from dog to dog and also breed to breed. Here are some symptoms that will help you recognize them:

  • Reddish bumps on dogs skin 
  • Blackheads
  • Pustules
  • Redness and swelling around the dog's muzzle

In more severe cases of canine acne, your poor pooch could develop a painful infection. They may begin to scratch the area, leading to the dog acne bleeding and causing further complications. That’s why it's best to take your dog to the vet at the first sign of acne.

Clogged pores, a build-up of sebum on the skin, bacteria, and dead skin cells stuck in hair follicles all cause acne in dogs. This build-up can cause the pores to clog, creating a sore at the hair follicle's surface.

Sebum is an oil that is produced naturally on your dog's skin. It helps to protect your dog's skin and coat. However, with hormonal changes, inflammation, or too much bacteria, excess sebum is produced and pimples form.

Sometimes, bacteria get trapped in the hair follicle, and the body releases white blood cells as a defense mechanism. These cells create an unpleasant pus that oozes from the red and sore pimples. Don't ever attempt to pop these cysts; they could become infected!

What Causes Canine Acne?

Now you know how to recognize canine acne, and you understand how the pimples are formed. But why does canine acne happen? 

Here are some of the main underlying causes of this unpleasant problem and problems that look like canine acne.

#1. Age

Whether it's on a human or a dog, acne on chin and lower jaw areas typically appear due to hormones. Because of hormonal changes, a puppy is more likely to have acne than an older dog. It starts at around the age of 5 - 8 months and could last up to a year and a half. 

As a general rule, as the puppy moves into adulthood, the acne will fade. This is yet another reason you should consider adopting a senior dog, as it is less likely to suffer from canine acne.

#2. Improper hygiene

Poor hygiene is another common reason behind dog acne. You may give Rex a regular wash, but do you thoroughly clean the folds and wrinkles around his muzzle? In some breeds, these areas become bacteria and dirt traps, which could cause problems.

For this reason, the following breeds are more likely to suffer from acne:

  • Rottweilers
  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Dobermanns
  • Great Danes

Please pay attention to your dog's environment and the toys they play with, the bed they sleep in, and their food dishes. Keeping your pup in a bacteria-free environment will help you to prevent an outbreak of pet pimples.

#3. An allergic reaction

If your dog is allergic to certain types of food or something in its environment, this could cause inflammation and irritation on the skin. This could present itself in the form of pimples.

#4. Mange or parasites

Mange, parasites, and even mite bites can turn into little red bumps and become pimples, especially when the itch is scratched.

#5. Fungal Infections

An untreated fungal infection may create open sores. If not diagnosed properly, this can easily be mistaken for acne.

How to Treat Dog Acne

It's always best to take your furry friend to the vet with any health problems. But if you feel that you want to treat it yourself, here are five DIY dog acne treatment ideas you can try.

#1. Wash Fido's face!

Keep your dog's face clean (folds and all) to help ensure that bacteria and dirt do not collect there. All you need is a damp, warm washcloth. Use water only, as soaps and scented body wash products may dry out the dog's skin and cause more irritating dry and red bumps.

For times when you are out and about, use a disposable wipe. The more natural the ingredients in the wipes, the better. If you won't use it on your face, why would you use it on your furry friend?

#2. Dry that dog!

The dark areas under the folds and between your dog's wrinkles create the perfect environment for bacteria to live, especially when it's damp! After every bath, run in the rain, or swim, make sure you dry your furry friend off properly. 

NOTE: Dog breeds that drool need extra care around the muzzle, especially when they have extra folds, like Boxers. Folds and drool are a recipe for disaster when it comes to canine acne. So keep a paper towel handy, and wipe up the drool before it becomes an issue. 

#3. Dogs need tooth brushing too!

A dog's mouth is full of bacteria; they'll eat anything! This bacteria can be easily transferred to the muzzle area and cause problems. Make sure you brush their teeth as often as possible. There are also several dental hygiene products made especially for dogs that you can try.

#4. Use topical treatments!

Just like humans, dogs can also benefit from topical ointments. Remember that a dog's acne treatment is quite different from human acne remedies, so don't try ointment made for humans on your furry friend. Instead, talk to your vet and get something suitable. 

When it comes to dog chin acne home remedies, it's important to keep it natural. Here are some household products that are not designed for humans and don't contain any harsh chemicals that could hurt your hound:

  • Aloe vera
  • Coconut oil
  • Apple cider vinegar (diluted)*

*Apple Cider has long been known for its antibacterial properties. However, it should be used with care and always diluted. If you use apple cider vinegar directly on the skin, it can cause irritation.

#5. Cleanliness is king!

You should clean your canine companion's toys, beds, and feeding dishes regularly. It takes very little time to wash the dog's bedding, toys, and feeding dishes. 

You also need to be wary of plastic feeding dishes and toys. Plastic tends to retain more bacteria than glass or metal. Therefore, it should be cleaned more often and maintained. Look for cracks or chips in plastic, as those are perfect hiding spots for bacteria! It's best to replace damaged plastic feeding dishes. 

Keep Your Dog's Acne in Check

Learning how to get rid of dog acne is not rocket science. In most cases, a dog's pimple problem is easy to treat and maintain. Most will fade when your dog reaches adulthood. And if not, your veterinarian will prescribe something that will help them. 

Routine dental visits that provide a thorough tooth cleaning and regular visits to a pet groomer will give you a heads-up about possible acne problems. It's always better to prevent problems than have to deal with them after they happen. 

With this knowledge and a few new routines added to your doggie care, you’ll be prepared to deal with your pup if it develops a pimple problem!

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