Dog Acne is more commonly called Impetigo.
Puppies: Acne can occur in puppies of any age or size. It typically presents as a thin brown line of pustules or crusting on the belly and groin, usually in hairless areas. Other common areas for puppy acne include the chin and bottom lip, where bumps may appear. They are typically red or purple in color.
Adult dogs: Acne in adult dogs is much less common, but may still occur in breeds prone to the disorder such as Boxers, English Bulldogs and Rottweilers. Many shorter coated breeds are also prone to acne because they have less fur to protect the skin. However, in most dogs acne will clear up as they age.
Dog acne can form if there is trauma to the skin like a minor abrasion, or if dirt and debris irritate the skin. As a result, pustules begin to form on affected areas that may burst with minor amounts of pus, scab over and become crusted, or appear red and itchy or painful. Much like human acne, canine acne can also be caused by changes in hormones.
Prevention and treatment of dog acne
The number one key to preventing the formation of dog acne is to provide a clean area for puppies and dogs to play in. Bathing to keep problem areas clean on the body and in the environment can help greatly reduce or avoid acne altogether.
Acne is often a condition determined by ruling out other more serious issues such as allergies, mite infestations causing mange (Demodex and Scabies) and other external parasite infections (Fleas and Ticks). This is usually done by performing a skin scraping on the affected area. The scraping is then placed in a growth medium for up to 14 days. If no growth is found after a two week period, it is determined that the cause of the bumps may be benign, and treatment for acne can begin.
Once dog acne has appeared, treatment usually involves bathing the area with a medicated benzoyl peroxide shampoo from your veterinarian. Pets may also need to have an Elizabethan collar or T-shirt placed on them to prevent further trauma and spread of infection in affected areas. In severe cases, antibiotics or steroids may also be given to help clear up any underlying infections and reduce inflammation that may have occurred from the acne itself, or from any scratching or biting at the area.
Possible alternative solutions for dog acne
Calendula may be a beneficial herbal supplement to place on affected areas of acne. It can help reduce swelling and inflammation at the site, and may help reduce irritation and itchiness. Immune system boosting herbal supplements may also help prevent acne. Ingredients such as Echinacea and Garlic may help reduce the incidence of minor acne and infections.
However, if the acne has progressed to forming large pustules, or are bothersome to the point of self-trauma, veterinary care should be sought to ensure there is no other underlying cause of symptoms. If all other symptoms of illness have been ruled out, alternative and traditional medications can be used to help alleviate symptoms.