Like you, your dog can get zits and develop an acne problem. Unlike you, he won't obsess about pimples that appear on school picture day or right before your big presentation at work. Although your dog won't worry about his pimples, it's important for you to know what the bumps on your dog's chin are and when to treat them.
Yes, dog pimples are a thing
Many pet owners express surprise when they learn that dogs get acne. Just like you, your dog has oil-producing glands in her skin. If one of these glands or a hair follicle gets clogged with dirt and oil, a pimple forms. A zit can appear anywhere, but they're most likely to form on your dog's face or groin. They're also more likely to occur during your dog's time as a teenager, often resolving themselves when a dog reaches adulthood at around one year of age.
Know all the signs of acne
When clogged pores lead to a pimple, it's easy to see what's going on with your pooch. Other signs of clogged pores and skin problems aren't quite as obvious, however. Your dog may develop red bumps that never come to a head. You might also notice that your dog has small bumps under his skin rather than on it or find small scars from previous acne outbreaks. Sometimes, a dog with an uncomfortable zit will rub against the floor or furniture, almost as if trying to pop the pimple himself.
Avoid aggravating the situation
Pimples exude a kind of magical power over some people, filling them with the urge to pop zits and squeeze out every bit of pus that they can. If you're one of these people, step away from your dog. You should never pop a dog's zits. Doing so can cause infection and spread pus and oil over your dog's skin, prompting another breakout and making her acne worse. You also increase the risk that your pup will develop a canine sebaceous cyst. Essentially giant pimples, these cysts are benign but quite painful. Many require a trip to the vet.
While avoiding popping, make sure you avoid treating your dog with hydrogen peroxide or human acne medications too. A dab of Clearasil may work wonders for you, but solutions made for human skin are generally much more potent than those made for dogs. You could make your dog's acne worse or create other skin problems for him.
Take the proper steps
Doing nothing is sometimes the best way to treat your dog's acne. If your pup is in her teen months or the acne is mild, the problem typically resolves itself. If your dog is past her teens but still breaking out often or experiencing a bad skin problem, visit your vet. Your vet can confirm that you're in fact dealing with acne and not something else that looks similar.
If it is acne, the first step of treatment may simply involve bathing your dog more frequently. A weekly bath can help keep your dog's skin clean and clear. If necessary, your vet can suggest a medicated shampoo for an acne-fighting boost. If your dog's zits occur mostly around her mouth, try brushing her teeth. Sometimes, poor dental hygiene allows bacteria to leave the mouth and migrate to the muzzle. Dental treats or some time with a toothbrush prevent this problem.
Sometimes, vets prescribe anti-inflammatory pills as well as antibiotics to dogs with serious acne issues. Topical creams and gels can also help ease acne irritation. If your dog has an overly large zit or one hidden under his skin, your vet may drain the site or even surgically remove the affected tissue. This treatment, however, is typically reserved for very large sebaceous cysts.