Canine Acne Symptoms

Canine acne may be frequently seen and is triggered by an excessive production of sebum, hormonal problems or other external and internal diseases. Acne will manifest through bumps and oily skin, but these symptoms are often ignored, as dogs have fur covering the skin and masking the problem. However, the acne is mostly present on the face and chin, so it may be noticed.

Canine Acne

Sebum is a substance that is normally produced by the sebaceous glands of the dog, and it keeps the skin hydrated. If the sebum produced is in excess, acne may occur. The causes of excessive sebum production may be internal or external, and acne can also be an idiopathic condition. The occurrence of acne can be associated with stress, allergies, poor grooming or hormonal imbalance. Skin infections can likewise cause an excess of sebum production.

Symptoms of Dog Acne

Canine acne may be subtle or more severe, depending on the causing factor and the reaction of the dog. The symptoms may vary, depending on the severity of the acne.

The symptoms of acne can be subtle and may often pass unnoticed, as the skin is covered by fur. A dog with acne may have:

  • Black spots
  • Comedones
  • Pustules

These are mostly present on the face (especially the lips), chin or neck, but may also occur on other areas of the body. To detect these you should palpate the dog's skin when grooming him and pay attention to any irregularities. Note that skin bumps may not necessarily be acne, so you will need to take your pet to the vet should you notice any abnormalities.

Acne can cause itchiness and the dog may scratch and paw his face. He might rub his face against different surfaces, leaving greasy spots behind. On rare occasions, the pustules may bleed. The excess of sebum can make the dog more susceptible to different skin infections which will cause redness, irritation and swelling. The dog can be noisy and can be irritated, due to the discomfort.

Acne Treatment Options

The treatment of dog acne will depend on the underlying cause.

If the acne is mild, medication treatment may not be necessary. Supplementation of vitamin A, frequent baths and topical creams that contain retinol, benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine may eliminate acne.

If the acne is more severe and the skin is red and irritated, topical ointments containing corticosteroids will be recommended. Oral antibiotics or steroids can also be administrated if the acne doesn't go away in a few weeks.

If the dog has a hormonal imbalance causing the excessive production of sebum, the vet will recommend different types of medication or even surgery to remove a thyroid gland that may be hyperactive.

The vet may also recommend clipping the hair in the areas affected by acne, so as to allow the acne to heal. Exposure to air can speed up the acne healing, while moist, dark areas may facilitate the development of acne.