Can Dogs Get Pimples?

Bulldog chin
Although any dog breed can get acne, shorthaired and hairless breeds are the most at risk.

Q. My dog has what looks like acne on his chin. What's going on?

A. You may have thought you were beyond the teenage years with your kids or didn’t have to deal with them for a few years yet. Then, you got a puppy.

Guess what! Just like human teenagers, adolescent dogs go through some challenging behavioral and physical changes. They start to break the rules, want to do their own thing and, yes, they get acne.

Causes of Acne

The body’s oil glands can become super-active during adolescence. Starting when your dog is five to eight months old, he may produce too much sebum, an oily liquid. The sebum flows out through the hair follicles, which also shed dead skin cells (dander). The excess oil, combined with dander and dirt, plugs up the hair follicles, forming blackheads, red bumps, or scabs on the chin, lips and muzzle. Acne can also be caused by trauma to the hairs or skin on the chin or muzzle.

We see this most commonly in shorthaired dogs, but it can affect any breed. For instance, hairless dogs are extremely prone to acne and not just on the face. They can have pimples all over their bodies. Talk about an adolescent nightmare!

Certain breeds appear to have a genetic predisposition to conditions, such as allergic skin disease, which may make them more susceptible to acne. It’s best not to breed dogs who develop chronic cases.

There are also some other possible causes of acne in dogs. They include allergies to plastic food bowls or other contact and airborne allergies, food allergies or just plain poor grooming. The latter might be the case in breeds such as Bulldogs or Pugs, if their wrinkles aren’t cleaned thoroughly or regularly. Autoimmune or metabolic diseases, such as hypothyroidism, may also be culprits. Some of these conditions cause itchiness on top of the acne. The resultant scratching can only make the acne worse and may lead to secondary bacterial infections, which can be painful.


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