Acne in Dogs Leave a comment

Pustules in Dogs

Much like in teenage humans, acne is a benign disorder that typically only lasts a while. It occurs when the hair follicles become irritated. Dogs with short coats such as Boxers, Bulldogs, and Rottweilers are the breeds most likely to have this condition. Dogs may also experience intense pain and itching.

Acne tends to come on at puberty, from five to eight months of age. Typically it is gone by the time the dog reaches one year of age.

Both dogs and cats are susceptible to this condition. If you would like to learn more about acne affects cats, please visit this page in the health library.

Symptoms and Types

  • Red bumps
  • Blackheads
  • Infection may develop
  • Dog may rub his face against carpet and furniture
  • Swelling
  • Pus in the lesions from bacterial invasion
  • Lesions are painful when you touch them
  • Scars from lesions that have healed


Some causes are:

  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Trauma


Your veterinarian will take note of the dog’s breed and will want to know the age when the lesions began to appear. Some other diseases look like acne, and your veterinarian will want to rule them out, including:

  • Demodicosis — a kind of mange. Your veterinarian will do skin scrapings to determine or rule out this disease, examining the specimen under a microscope.
  • Ringworm — early on, this fungus looks like acne, so hairs will be plucked for a culture. It takes 10 to 14 days to determine whether there is a fungal infection.
  • Puppy Strangles — this disease may sometimes appear like acne, although puppies who have it suffer from depression and do not eat.  

Dogs with acne are healthy except for the lesions.


Generally, a topical treatment is used to treat acne. Some are similar to the ones people use, like benzoyl peroxide. Use only the products recommended by your veterinarian. The skin on the chin and lips of your dog is thin and sensitive. Therefore, if benzoyl peroxide is prescribed, it is much weaker than that used for humans, so do not substitute.

Some possible treatments:

  • Shampoo twice a week with a special preparation that contains benzoyl peroxide
  • A benzoyl peroxide gel applied topically
  • Antibiotics applied topically to limit infection
  • Steroids applied topically to decrease swelling and inflammation; use gloves when applying the product
  • Pills (including antibiotics) in severe cases. These will usually be given twice daily over a considerable length of time

Living and Management

Protect your animal from injurious situations. Also, try to limit your pet’s activities during this time. Remember, this ailment is self-limiting and will not last very long. You will need to manage the condition at home, shampooing as necessary and applying the topical medications.

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