What should I do if my dog has acne?

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While dogs aren’t likely to be teased by other dogs for their acne problems, the condition can be uncomfortable and occasionally progresses to bacterial infection. If your dog gets acne as a puppy, chances are it will resolve on its own and you will not need to do anything special. There are a few things you can do to help manage it and prevent infection.

Keep your dog well groomed. Dogs, and puppies especially, tend to chew on questionable objects, roll in the dirt, get into the trash or the litter pan, and generally behave like messy children. If you notice that they are starting to develop acne, you can help control it by keeping them clean. This doesn’t mean a full bath every day. You can use a warm washcloth with a little puppy shampoo to wash and rinse the face off each day before bedtime. If the acne is more severe, your veterinarian may recommend a special shampoo to help reduce the buildup of oils.

In more severe cases, a topical treatment such as medicated pad or shampoo may be prescribed. Follow the instructions carefully, and avoid over-the-counter human products without checking with your veterinarian.

If your dog develops a bacterial infection, keep it clean and dry. A course of oral antibiotics may be necessary to help clear up the infection and allow the skin to heal. Give the entire course of antibiotics as directed to prevent resistance. If you are near the end of the prescription and the infection has not resolved, contact your vet to see if he recommends giving it for an extended length of time.

Sometimes external sources can cause an acne flare up. Some dogs are sensitive to plastic bowls and may respond well if you change to a ceramic or metal bowl. Watch for signs of flare-ups after chewing certain toys or rawhide and experiment to see if removing that toy stops the flare-up.

As in humans, acne cannot be cured, but it can be managed and your dog can live a happy, normal life.

Finally, don’t be alarmed if a long course of antibiotics is required. Skin infections can sometimes take three to six weeks to clear!

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