Lip Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

Lip fold dermatitis in dogs can often affect dogs with saggy lips. It occurs because moisture and debris can become trapped in the skin folds created by saggy, floppy lips. The friction of the sides of the skin fold rubbing against one another can contribute to the problem. Lip fold dermatitis in dogs can cause skin irritation, which, if left untreated, can develop into open sores and become infected; read on to learn more.

Causes and Risk Factors for Lip Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

Some breeds are more prone to lip dermatitis than others, simply because they have larger, floppier, saggier lips. These breeds can include Saint Bernards, Bloodhounds, and Springer Spaniels. Any dog with large, floppy lips is at an increased risk for lip fold dermatitis. Dogs with especially saggy skin, such as Shar Peis, are usually at the highest risk for lip fold and other types of skin fold dermatitis.

Fold dermatitis can also occur on other parts of your dog's body, wherever sagging skin causes skin folds to occur. Other ares, such as the space between your dog's toes, can become irritated as well, if they aren't kept clean and dry.

Symptoms of Lip Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

Lip fold dermatitis most often occurs when moisture and debris, such as particles of food, become trapped in the folds created by your dog's sagging lips. Affected areas will be unusually damp, and may appear red and irritated. The fold may give off a strong, unpleasant odor and may even feel slightly warm to the touch. 

When lip fold dermatitis in dogs becomes severe, hair loss can occur. The irritated skin breaks and ulcers form. Bacterial infection can occur. Yeast infections are also common in dog skin folds, since yeast thrives on the warmth and moisture found in the folds of your dog's skin, and lip folds are especially prone to become moist.

Diagnosing and Treating Lip Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

Your vet will probably be able to diagnose lip fold dermatitis via physical examination, but he may also take a bacterial or fungal culture to determine which treatment is best for your dog's lip fold dermatitis. If your dog hasn't developed a bacterial or yeast infection yet, your vet may recommend a medicated shampoo to keep one from forming. Topical ointments are often prescribed to treat fungal infections of the skin, including the skin folds. If your dog has developed a bacterial skin infection, he might need antibiotics.

Sometimes, lip fold dermatitis can lead to recurrent skin infections. These infections can become serious, depending on the type of bacteria involved. Your vet might recommend surgically removing the lip folds to prevent further infection. 

You can prevent lip fold dermatitis in dogs by keeping your dog's lip folds clean and dry. Clean your dog's lip folds daily, especially after he eats, to remove debris from food. Keeping the lip folds dry helps discourage the proliferation of fungi and bacteria.