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).
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 simply 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.