Canine Acne

Canine Acne

Canine Acne you say??  Really?? Yes, dogs do get “zits”!!!!!
This condition causes abnormalities in the hair follicles especially around the chin and muzzle.  Larger, short coated breeds are affected most often eg Great Dane, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Boxer, Doberman, Rottweiler etc.  Acne is seen first in young adult animals. (BOTH my Ridgebacks suffered mildly with this and I’ve just noticed today, at age 10 months, my puppy is starting with it too) but can flare up from time to time – at 6 years old my older Ridgeback had another episode of acne that lasted about a month or so.
The symptoms as can be seen from the picture below are multiple blackheads on the chin, lips, and muzzle.  A blackhead or “comedone” is where the hair follicle has been plugged by natural secrtions like oily sebum and skin debris.  When the hair follicle is blocked like this, it swells causing spots and raised reddened plaques which eventually “pop” and cause scabs.  They may weep fluid and develop ulcerated patches. They are not particularly itchy and most dogs don’t seem to notice it, however if the dog does find it itchy, you may notice him rubbing his face and muzzle along the carpet in an effort to ease the irritation.
If skin problems are present elsewhere on the dog, then acne may not be the cause and one should consider something else eg skin mites (see my earlier post about mites and mange).
Canine Acne under the chin
Canine Acne under the chin

If your dog is going through this stage, then it’s a good idea to give the face a wash after each meal to remove any residual bacteria left from the food – a simple wash with a flannel should suffice.  In most cases, treatment for canine acne is unnecessary although you can treat with medicated shampoos, Aloe Vera gel or something like Aveeno Oatmeal moisturiser.  We don’t normally recommend Sudocrem as this is something that really shouldn’t be ingested by your dog.  However, if the pimples are on the underside of the chin in a position that cannot be licked, then this is something you might try too.  If the spots have ruptured and possibly developed a secondary infection as a result, or for cases of really severe irritation, antibiotics may be prescribed.  In most cases, however, perhaps after several bouts, the dog just “grows out of it” as he matures.



  1. Reply

    Hi can a dog get acne in the inside of his leg? My dog has had what looks like a scar and fur has never grown on it and on the scar there is like black lumps threw his skin in which u can pick out if he let u. Had him to the vets previously and they said not to worry its just puppy acne. But as he has got older its grown with him. He had this at 10 weeks when I got him and he is now 17 months. I noticed tonight he was liking at it and when I looked at it some of the longer parts of his fur was sticking to a bit that looked as if it had been bleeding and quite pussy. Iv cut away the fur surrounding it to let air get to it and stop it from sticking but should I keep it dry or clean it with salt water. If its any worse by tomoz will take him to the vets or ask to see a different vet. Any advice would be appreciated and can also send a pic if u wanted to look at or show others what it looks like if it is just acne
    Thanks nikki xX

    • Reply

      Hi Nikki,
      Thanks for getting in touch. If he has had it that long and is licking it, it is obviously bothering him for one reason or another. If it is now “pussy” then certainly I would suggest cleaning it and salt water is pretty much as good as anything else. If you can, try NOT to let him lick at it and yes, I would suggest an appointment at the vet just to put your mind at rest. They can still get acne until they are up to about 3 so his age is still perfectly reasonable for this problem and yes, they can get it on various parts of their body although, like humans, it is more usual under their chin and the face. As it is now an open wound with pus and bleeding, don’t put anything on it like Savlon as they may irritate it. If you could take a picture and let me have a look and to share it with the other followers of this site, that would be really kind of you and, once you’ve seen your vet, if you could come back to me and let me (and everyone else) know what they say about it, that would be very helpful indeed. Its likely that it is just acne and the nibbling and licking has made it sore, like a teenager picking his zits, but just in case, a veterinary opinion is ALWAYS the best action to take.

      I hope the news is good and nothing to worry about and please do let us know how your cutie pie gets on. Kerry x

  2. Reply

    My mastiff/rottie three year old has had canine acne for the majority of his life. Currently he is experiencing a very large flair up. It usually clears up by itself but it seems to be getting worse. He scratches at his legions and they are getting larger. What would be the best solution in your opinion?

    • Reply

      Several things can make it worse, not least of which is the dish you feed him from. If it is a metal bowl, I would suggest getting rid of it straight away as it causes these problems for lots of dogs and if yours has had it all his life, this could be the problem. You can try putting some nappyrash cream on them to soothe them, also aloe vera is very good to help calm them down. The problem is that if they have become infected due to his scratching, they may need something from your vet to clear up the infection and if you say they are getting worse, this could be the case. Obviously, not having seen the dog its hard to advise but I would say to try the nappy cream for a few days and if things aren’t getting any better, take him to the vet for a professional consult – and ditch the metal bowl if you have one 😉

    • Reply

      My Rb is 18 months and has things that look like scaly dead raised skin that you can pick off. She has a few on her head and back. They dont bother her so we just left her be. She has dandruff when brushing her with a deshedding brush. Anyone want ideas?

      • Reply

        Hi Angie, Difficult to say without a picture but we could be dealing with a number of things from a staph infection, to insect bites, to allergies or food intolerances to name but a few. If it’s diet, then likely something without cereal will help, probably a raw diet if she isn’t already on one or, if she is, it could be one particular component that she is allergic too. If it’s insect bites then this will go away without any problem but that would be unlikely the cause of any dandruff which would be an unrelated issue. If it is a staph infection then this would need to be treated with an antibacterial shampoo or something like hibiscrub. As there are so many possibilities, if you are worried that something is not right with your dog then I would always suggest speaking to your vet and, as things are as they are at the minute with Corona Virus, perhaps a phone consultation with them or email them some photos to get their professional opinion. Vets are only seeing emergency cases just now and thankfully, from your description I would say nothing on the “possibles” list is particularly serious or an emergency so I wouldn’t worry about having her physically seen – though as I say, I would speak to them on the phone just to put your mind at rest with a professional opinion.

        Take care

  3. Reply

    My pup tends to get lesions on the front of his lips. They seem to be itchy, as he likes to rub his nose on the carpet. It does not look the same as the images of acne. Can you make any suggestions to how I can prevent them? I would like to post a photo but it seems that I can’t here.

    • Reply

      Hi Jody,

      do you wash your dog’s bowls in the dishwasher? On occasion, these problems can be due to the washing solution or rinse aid not being removed completely from the bowl. I always give mine a rinse when they leave the dishwasher just to be on the safe side.

      Another thing that could be causing the problems is the bowl itself if there bacteria managing to get into the microscopic pits on the surface of the dish. Plastic bowls can be a night mare for this, as can ceramic ones. The best advice is to swap to a metal bowl as you are less likely to run into this problem.

      Hopefully, something above will sort the problem out for you.

      Best wishes


  4. Reply

    Hi, I’m really confused. Kerry states to get rid of a metal bowl straight away as it can cause problems. However Kerry then says get a Metal bowl as Plastic and Ceramic can cause problems??

    I ready plastic was bad and to get metal but now i’m confused as Kerry states to avoid metal?

    Can we please clear this up? Is Metal good or bad?

    • Reply

      Hi David, Im sorry about the confusion – can you tell me which blog said to get rid of the metal bowl? If that is the case, then Im sorry it has been a mistake in typing up the blog and needs to be changed. A plastic and ceramic bowl should be avoided – metal is best

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