Do Dogs Get Acne?

By Jane Meggitt

The short answer is, yes they do. And if you went through the pimple-and-whitehead stage as a teenager, you can empathize if your dog is prone to getting them. However, although your dog is definitely not worried about whether zits are hindering is dating prospects, it's important that you treat the condition for his own comfort.

Canine Acne

Just like humans, dogs tend to develop acne in the equivalent of their teen years. For canines, that means about the ages of 5 months to 8 months. It generally occurs on the muzzle or chin. By the time the dog reaches his first birthday, odds are his zits are gone. Affected dogs have whiteheads and blackheads. Don't try to squeeze your dog's pimples. Take him to the vet to rule out other issues instead. Certain skin conditions look like acne but are far more serious.


Dog acne usually results from folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicles. Besides whiteheads, dogs with folliculitis might experience small ulcerated sores, which often itch. If the follicle ruptures, your dog could end up with furunculosis, similar to boils in people. Just as with people, severe cases of canine acne or folliculitis can leave scarring. While fairly rare in long-haired dogs, certain breeds, including boxers, bulldogs, Rottweilers, mastiffs, Great Danes and Doberman pinschers, are often affected.


Your vet will prescribe a topical cleaner and disinfectant, such as benzoyl peroxide. You may use a product with this active ingredient yourself, but don't put it on your dog. His skin is much thinner and more sensitive than yours, so using benzoyl peroxide designed for humans will irritate it. Use the doggie version your vet prescribes. If his skin is badly infected, your vet might also prescribe antibiotics. She might also recommend using special soaps or medicated wipes to wash affected areas.

Other Skin Diseases

Even though it appears your dog has acne, your vet should take skin scrapings just to make sure it isn't another condition. Canine dermatological problems that resemble acne include demodetic mange, the Malassezia yeast infection, seborrhea, contact allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases and even cancer. Another issue is pyoderma, or pus in the skin. According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, over-growth of the normal bacteria on the dog's skin usually triggers this infection. A pyodermal infection can go quite deeply into the dog's body compared with a superficial infected hair follicle.

By Jane Meggitt

--- Just Ask the Expert - How Do You Manage Canine Chin Acne?
petMD: Acne in Dogs
Provet: Canine Acne
WebMD: Folliculitis in Dogs
The Merck Veterinary Manual: Pyoderma - Introduction

About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.