Pimples on a dog’s nose indicate it has canine acne. Puppies under the age of one are prone to canine acne, but adult dogs can also get it. The common causes are puberty, allergies, trauma to the nose, and poor hygiene.
Remember your awkward teenage years when a new pimple surfaced every other day? Believe it or not, this is not limited to the human species. The same thing can happen to your dog.
In young dogs, acne is more common than you’d think and is very similar to human acne. It’s typically a simple cosmetic issue and does not affect your pup’s health.
Like in humans, canine acne can be brought on by genetics, hormonal changes, or oily skin. There are many forms of dog acne and many causes for it. The good news is that canine acne usually doesn’t last long and is easy to treat.
What’s The Deal With Canine Acne?
Dog’s skin differs from human skin. They do not have porous skin like humans do, but they have pores in their hair follicles. Canine acne occurs in these hair follicles. When oil, dead skin cells, or bacteria clogs the pore, a pus-filled sore will form at the surface of the follicle.
A dog’s skin produces oil as a form of protection for his skin and coat. When hair follicles become inflamed for various reasons, bacteria or hormonal changes can cause an excess of oil to be produced in the skin. The oil will clog your dog’s hair follicle pores and cause acne.
How to Know if Your Dog Has Canine Acne
Canine acne is characterized by small lumps and bumps on the dog’s face. It occurs primarily on the dog’s lips and nose (the most sensitive skin on a dog’s body). In dogs, several red bumps, whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, or swelling around the nose are common forms of acne.
As the acne irritates your dog’s face, you’ll notice him excessively scratching and rubbing his face on surfaces throughout the house. He may vocally express his irritation or pain with yelping.
Signs of severe canine acne include swelling lips, lesions, painful open wounds, and scabs on the face. If left untreated, this can cause permanent scarring.
Why is My Dog Suffering From Acne?
The same things that cause acne in humans can also cause acne in dogs. Genetics, hormonal changes, allergic reactions, and clogged pores can all contribute to canine acne.
Acne is more common in younger dogs compared to seniors because of puberty. Puberty in your changing puppy can cause spikes in hormonal levels that can trigger acne. By the time the dog is one-year-old, most acne will clear on its own.
There are certain breeds more predisposed to acne than others. Dogs with short coats, wrinkly skin, or skin with deep folds and crevices are more likely to develop acne. This is because bacteria can collect in the folds and crevices of the skin and it’s hard to expel.
The short stubby hairs on the dog’s coat can also rub up against the sensitive skin on the muzzle and cause irritation.
These predisposed breeds include boxers, bulldogs, Doberman pinschers, Great Danes, German shorthaired pointers, mastiffs, pugs, Rottweilers, and Weimaraners.
Poor skin hygiene will cause bacteria to build up and create a conducive environment for canine acne to form.
Regular baths will help cleanse the bacteria from your dog’s skin and reduce the occurrence of acne.
However, hygiene is not just isolated to the skin. Dog toys, food bowls, and beds can all foster bacteria that travel to your dog’s face. These things need to be regularly washed, especially if you notice an odor coming from them.
Acne can be a sign that your dog has had an allergic reaction. Allergies for your dog can include food allergies or environmental allergies such as grass or pollen.
If your dog comes into contact with an allergen, rashy bumps can appear on your pup. A diagnosis from your veterinarian can confirm if allergies are the cause of your dog’s pimples.
The skin of the muzzle is thin and sensitive. When physical trauma is experienced here, acne can be the result.
Trauma to the muzzle can cause the hairs to break off, which will lead to inflammation in the hair follicle, and the follicle will rupture. When this happens, contents within the follicle are released into the skin. The skin doesn’t recognize these strange contents, and its reaction is to further swell up to protect against them.
Should You See The Vet For Canine Acne?
Canine acne is typically not serious enough to warrant a visit to your vet. But if the acne becomes painful and is visibly irritating your dog, take your dog to the vet to get it looked at in case an infection is present.
To diagnose your dog with acne, the vet will note your dog’s age and breed and rule out allergies, parasites, mange, and other underlying skin conditions.
The early stages of acne are fairly harmless. However, as the acne progresses, the chance for bacteria to invade the affected area increases. If your dog’s acne is severe or infected, your vet will provide you with a course of action to remedy the problem, including the use of prescription topical ointments or pills.
Treat and Prevent Canine Acne
If your vet has prescribed medications for your dog’s acne, it’s important to diligently follow the instructions, so your dog’s skin doesn’t worsen. This can include topical creams, oral medication, or medicated shampoo.
Here are some of the common treatments the vet may recommend.
To clear up acne in your dog, your vet may recommend benzoyl peroxide. It’s a topical ointment that kills bacteria in the affected area. Benzoyl peroxide is often available to purchase over the counter at your local drugstore. Alternatively, your vet can write a prescription. It is available as creams, gels, or medicated shampoos.
Antibiotics can be administered for infected acne. Depending on what your dog is prescribed, an antibiotic can be given topically or orally. As with all antibiotics, it’s important to strictly adhere to the antibiotic’s schedule for it to take effect.
Steroids can be used topically or orally to decrease inflammation caused by acne. Steroids will also relieve itching, which will stop the dog from scratching and causing further trauma to his skin. This will give his skin a chance to clear up.
At-Home Treatment and Prevention
The acne on your dog will usually go away by itself without medications. But if you want to prevent acne or speed up the recovery process, some measures can be taken at home.
Keep your dog’s skin clean and dry, especially if he has wrinkly facial features. Dry your dog’s skin with a cloth or paper towel after feeding time or if you notice him tracking water.
Note that at-home acne treatments can’t clear up severe acne, but they can prevent mild acne from becoming worse.
The number one and easiest thing you can do to speed up recovery time is to leave the acne alone and resist the urge to squeeze your dog’s pimples. Attempting to extract your dog’s pimple yourself can cause further trauma, increase the risk of infection and be very painful for your dog.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s pimply nose, it’s important to remember that canine acne will typically clear up on its own. Don’t irritate the skin by touching or squeezing it, and observe your dog’s behavior to make sure he’s not in pain. If you suspect your dog’s acne is infected, get him in to your vet to establish a treatment plan.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.