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Skin and Coat Health: Bulldog suffering from acne-like symptom

Updated on April 8, 2012

About 95% of teenagers suffer from acne. Acne is in fact a bane in a teen’s existence. What would be more annoying with this concern is that the zits seem to have the tendency to erupt when the teen is about to go on a much anticipated date. Dogs are really man’s best friends. Dogs would share with the elations and tribulations of their human friends. Does the dog know how much the young master go through with the insecurities of having a face with pus-filled bumps? Is this perhaps the reason why our most loyal and affectionate furry friends have acne too?

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What is canine acne?

Acne in dogs is very similar to human acne which is a localized folliculitis. All breeds of dogs can have acne but some breeds like the Bulldog, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweiler and Great Danes are more susceptible to this skin condition. Dogs with acne would have reddened and pus-filled bumps on the chin, lips and muzzle. The dog would have comedones as well. These are the hair follicles plugged with keratin. These are the black head and white heads in humans.

How canine acne develops

Dogs normally produce sebum, the oil that makes the dog’s skin smooth and supple and maintains the good condition of the coat. At puberty the sebaceous glands that secrete this oil enlarge and become active. This occurs when the dog is around 5 to 8 months in age. The over production of sebum predisposes bacteria growth in the hair follicles. The thickening of the walls of the hair follicles caused by the reaction of bacteria on the sebum will result to the formation of keratinous plug known as comedo or what is commonly called black and white heads. Over production of sebum, bacterial attack, the formation of comedo and the inflammation of the hair follicles cause the development of canine acne.


Thorough diagnosis is necessary as severe canine acne can be mistaken for demodicosis or ring worm. Puppy strangles is another disease that would have similar symptoms with canine acne. Dogs with acne though would act normal. Dogs with puppy strangles, on the other hand, would be depressed and anorexic. To rule out the possibility of these diseases, skin scrapings, biopsy and fungal culture of the hair will be done. To determine the presence of secondary infection, the vet may conduct a cytology exam where pustule content is smeared on a glass slide and examined under the microscope.


Dogs, unlike humans will not be troubled with the pus-filled bumps that would mar the appearance. However, the itch would make the dog continuously scratch the affected area. The scratching can result to more serious secondary infections. Washing the dog’s face daily with warm water or with Benzoyl peroxide will lessen the itch. Topical ointments are usually applied on open wounds. No treatment can totally cure acne. Fortunately, canine acne is usually mild. Nevertheless, the dog owner has to keep the dog’s face clean and stop the pet from scratching the affected area to prevent the development of secondary bacterial infection. Some cases of acne can be exacerbated by the dog’s hypersensitivity to irritants in the environment. It may be a good idea to replace the plastic bowl of the pet with a stainless one.


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