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Dog And Cat Acne

What Causes Pet Pimples?

By August 10, 2014 | See Comments

Dog with face cream on

Not every pet is blessed with a clear complexion. In dogs, acne often shows up in the teenage years (sound familiar?), while in cats, it can strike at any age. Find out what causes breakouts in pets and what treatments are available.

Acne is an unfortunate right of passage for many human beings, and it can also be a problem for pets. Unlike people, however, pets are incapable of feeling embarrassed by a few blemishes, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. While some pet pimples are innocent, others can become painful and infected, and cause your pal some serious discomfort. Here we’ll look at how to identify and treat pet acne to keep your furball fresh-faced.

Causes of Acne in Dogs and Cats

Acne in pets can be caused by a number of things. In dogs, acne is often a normal part of adolescence, and may appear when your dog reaches their teenage years and last only for a short period. Acne in dogs can also appear as a result of hormonal changes, allergies, a bacterial infection, trauma, or poor hygiene. Certain breeds -- such as the Great Dane, the Doberman Pinscher, and the Boxer  -- seem to be particularly predisposed.

In cats, acne can appear at any age, and it is usually the result of excess skin oil that clogs pores. Excess skin oil may be the result of allergies or an underlying skin condition. Excess keratin -- a protein found in the upper layer of the skin, hair, and claws -- can also block pores and cause acne.

Symptoms of Acne in Dogs and Cats

Acne in dogs usually occurs on the lips, chin, and muzzle, thought it can also show up near the genitals. It usually begins as hard, red, raised areas or blackheads. When bacteria enter the blocked pore or follicle and multiply, you will see pus. In some cases the acne will resolve on its own but in others the area may become swollen, inflamed, and painful to the touch. If a dog scratches the area, it may burst and lead to a secondary infection.

Acne forms and progresses in much the same way in cats, but it usually only appears on the sides of the lips or the underside of the chin.

Contact your veterinarian if your pet’s acne is getting worse or not resolving.

Treatment for Acne in Dogs and Cats

Treatment for pet acne will depend on the severity of the breakout. In mild cases, your veterinarian may recommend cleansing the affected area once a day with a benzoyl peroxide shampoo or gel until the acne clears up. If your pet has open wounds, benzoyl peroxide may irritate the skin, so follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely.

Other treatment options include topical antibiotics to limit the spread of the infection, topical steroid creams to reduce swelling and inflammation, and in severe cases, oral antibiotics.

Never apply any creams or other products intended for humans to your pet’s acne, and never pick at the bumps. Picking at or attempting to pop your pet’s acne could result in a more serious infection and scarring.

How to Prevent Acne in Dogs and Cats

Dogs often outgrow acne, while cats may suffer from it all their lives. In either case, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of recurring breakouts:

Practice good hygiene

In both dogs and cats, acne can result from dirty fur and excess oil on the skin. Bathe your pal a few times a month and don’t forget about oral hygiene; brushing your pet’s teeth helps to kill and control bacteria that can lead to acne formation, especially around the mouth.

Identify and Deal With Underlying Causes

Consider that your pet’s acne may be the result of an allergic reaction. Have you recently switched your pet’s food? Are new plants blooming? Are you using a different shampoo? If you suspect that your pet’s acne may be the result of an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian.

Allergies and other underlying skin conditions -- such as seborrhea -- can contribute to increased skin oil production. Ask your veterinarian if your pet would benefit from regular baths with a shampoo that removes excess skin oils, such as Pyoben.

Keep Your Pet’s Face Dry

Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, like a damp muzzle or chin. Wiping down your pet’s face and chin after they eat wet food or drink water can go a long way in preventing acne. Additionally, avoid giving your pet toys that cause them to lick excessively and build up thick saliva on the fur around the mouth.

More on Skin Health

Cat Dandruff Remedies And Solutions
When Dogs And Cats Get Pyoderma
5 Reasons To Use Fish Oil For Dogs And Cats

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Acne In Pets at a glance

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  • 1In cats, acne is often the result of excess skin oils
  • 2In dogs, acne can be caused by a number of factors, but it usually clears up as the dog matures
  • 3Mild cases of acne may resolve on their own; more severe cases may require antibiotics
  • 4Prevent acne in your pet by practicing good hygiene
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