Canine Blackheads & Pimples


He's all legs, he has energy to burn and he's got acne. No, not your teenage son -- your dog. Whether you call them pimples or blackheads, the result is the same: little bumps or lesions peppering your pup's chin and lips. He'll grow out of this mark of puberty, but you can help him along with some good hygiene.

Growing Up Is Hard to Do

  • Anyone who remembers puberty understands what a tough time it can be when your body starts changing. Fortunately, people grow out of it. If it's happening to your pup, he will, too. Canine acne typically starts between 5 and 8 months of age, resolving after his first year. Breeds with short coats, such as Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and boxers, are more likely to develop acne. However, since it's caused by irritated hair follicles, any dog is able to experience the embarrassment of a pimpled chin.

More Than Bumps

  • The blackheads and red bumps on your dog's face may irritate him, causing him to rub his face against the furniture or carpet. The bumps may swell and become infected, leading to pus-filled lesions. Your dog probably isn't feeling embarrassed; however, he may be itchy or in pain, so it's wise to take him to the vet to get him some relief.

Clearing It Up

  • Treating your pup's pimples is pretty straightforward: Topicals, facewashes, antibiotics and steroids all work in the fight against acne. Benzoyl peroxide is very effective, but don't raid your own medicine chest. Your dog's skin is actually thinner and more sensitive than yours, meaning it can become irritated from the stronger version of benzoyl peroxide that people use. The vet will give him a form with a lower concentration -- no more than 5 percent. The same applies to shampoo: Use only veterinary products for washing your dog's face, as directed by your veterinarian. If your dog develops a secondary infection, he may be prescribed a topical antibiotic, and topical steroids can help if swelling and inflammation have developed on his face. For the chronic case of canine acne, an oral antibiotic such as cephalexin may be necessary. And, as most teenagers know, don't pick at your dog's blackheads, as it will make his outbreak worse.

Sometimes It's More Than Acne

  • If your dog isn't a puppy any longer, or if he's depressed or not eating well, take him to the vet to confirm what's going on with his skin condition. Other conditions have similar symptoms. Demodicosis, a form of mange, ringworm and puppy strangles all begin with skin lesions similar to canine acne. Otherwise, if his pimples and blackheads aren't infected or bleeding, and are not causing him discomfort, they will clear up on their own. Good hygiene helps, so regular bathing, and cleaning of his teeth, will discourage the formation of pimples.

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