What is acne in dogs?

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You might be surprised to learn that just like humans, dogs can suffer from acne. While it may not be the blow to their self-esteem that it is for us, severe cases can lead to bacterial infections and discomfort. Any dog can develop acne, though it does tend to occur more often in adolescent dog and usually clears up by the time they reach one year of age.

Acne is caused by a buildup of sebum, a normal skin lubricant, in the pores. This occurs when the pores are blocked, which can be caused by debris, hormones, and even genetics. The acne most often appears on the face, typically around the lips and chin. Some breeds of dogs with very short fur are more prone to getting acne than others, although it is not known exactly why.

While the acne does usually resolve on its own, severe cases may develop bacterial infections. You may notice that the red bumps become pus-filled and painful to the touch. Your dog may rub his face on the carpet or the furniture. Depending on the severity of the acne, your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics to help fight the infection, or a skin treatment similar to acne pads used by humans.

It’s difficult to predict whether a dog will develop acne. Most of the time it is simply a matter of genetics, and keeping the affected area clean will help prevent infection. Some dogs respond well to changing their dish from plastic to ceramic or metal, as the plastic may cause irritation that results in acne.

There are other diseases that can mask as acne, so it’s a good idea to have the condition checked out by your veterinarian, and get the best advice for helping your dog feel better.

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