The teenagers in your home are not the only ones who can be afflicted with acne. Acne on dogs typically appears during their own period of puberty, which occurs between five to eight months of age. The good news is that humans and dogs alike can rejoice in the fact that the benign condition is temporary. For the duration, treatment can provide relief from the annoying symptoms of itchiness and pain that accompany acne in dogs.
How to Recognize Dog Acne
Acne on dogs appears as small pustules, often on the dog’s chin. These lesions can also be found on the dog’s lip, groin and genital area. They are red in color, and blackheads may also be present. The affected area may appear swollen, and your dog may pull back in pain when the area is touched. If the lesions have become infected, pus may ooze from them. In an attempt to relief his itch, your dog may rub his face on carpets, doorways or corners of furniture.
Causes of Dog Acne
Acne in dogs is the result of irritated hair follicles. This can occur from trauma to the area or from surging hormones. Genetics can also be a contributing factor, particularly in breeds with short coats, such as Boxers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Rottweilers, Bulldogs, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes and Pugs.
Diagnosis of Dog Acne
Although the condition is not serious, you should have your dog’s acne examined and treated by your veterinarian in order to prevent secondary bacterial infection and to reduce scarring after the acne has healed. Your veterinarian will take into account your dog’s breed and age. He may pluck a few hairs from the affected area to perform a fungal culture to rule out ringworm. He may also take a skin scraping from the area to examine under a microscope to rule out demodectic mange, a common condition in young dogs.
Demodectic mange and ringworm can sometimes mimic acne in their appearance. Ringworm can be transmitted to everyone in your household, so ruling out this skin parasite is important. All dogs have a healthy level of demodectic mites under their skin, but when the level escalates to abnormally high numbers, the crowding of these mites can lead to patchy areas of hair loss if the mange is not treated. Dogs with acne, ringworm and demodectic mange do not suffer from any additional symptoms. If your dog seems depressed and has a decrease in appetite, he may be suffering from puppy strangles, another condition that often accompanies the presence of skin lesions.
In addition to demodectic mange, ringworm and puppy strangles, other skin conditions, such as impetigo and skin fold pyoderma, can appear as pustules that are similar to acne on dogs. Once your veterinarian has declared that your dog is otherwise healthy and he has ruled out these other possible skin conditions, he will be able to make a definitive diagnosis of acne and prescribe the proper treatment.
Treatment for Dog Acne
The treatment for acne in dogs is typically a topical remedy. Many of the remedies contain benzoyl peroxide, but the concentration is lower than that used in human acne medications. The skin on your dog is more sensitive than human skin. Do not opt to share your teenager’s acne ointment with your dog. Dog remedies for acne include antibiotic ointments to prevent secondary bacterial infection, medicated scrubbing pads, shampoos and gels that contain benzoyl peroxide and topical steroids to reduce swelling, inflammation and itchiness. Your veterinarian will prescribe the right combination of products for your dog’s outbreak and provide instructions so that you can provide your canine companion with soothing relief.