How to treat acne in your pets?

How to treat acne in your pets?

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Noticing red angry blemishes on our poochโ€™s skin one day is enough to make us anxious. But experts say there is no need to worry. It is just an outbreak of canine acne.Acne can come in many forms (pimples, white heads or black heads) and are generally seen on the muzzle, chin or groin area. Like humans, dogs too get acne in their adolescence! That is, when they are less than a year old. They should clean up as our pups reach adulthood, but they can recur due to a number of reasons.


No one knows why, but dogs with short coats are more likely to have acne. Doggie pimples can be caused by hormonal changes, trauma, allergies or hygiene issues.


Acne starts as small bumps under a blocked hair follicle. Pups experience mild discomfort and start rubbing the spot against surfaces. When bacteria infect this area, pus collects and a pimple is formed. These tend to be rather itchy and release a sticky liquid and pus when they burst. If our pup worries the site too much, blood too starts to seep out.TreatmentThe first step to an effective treatment is to consult our veterinarian to rule out three other afflictions that in initial stages look deceptively like acne:

  • demodicosis, a type of mange,
  • ringworm, a fungal infection, and
  • folliculitis, a severe condition causing swollen throat and fever in puppies.

Once acne is verified as the culprit, treatment can be started. The fur around the area should be carefully clipped. The site should always be kept clean using medicated shampoos or gels with less than 5% benzoyl peroxide content. Human shampoos should never be used on dogs as they are too harsh for our pupโ€™s delicate skin.Next, tea tree oil of 0.1 to 1% concentration should be gently applied. The oilโ€™s antiseptic properties keep the skin safe from further infections. However, the oil is toxic to our pets in higher concentrations.If the acne is severely infected, our veterinarian would prescribe a course of antibiotics. The vet may also recommend the use of topical creams and ointments or a change in diet plan.In the rare circumstance of the acne not responding to the treatment, swabs would be taken from the area. A lab culture would identify the exact bacteria causing the infection so that a more bacteria-specific antibiotic can be given to our dogs.Prevention is better than cure. Once an acne episode is over, we must ensure that it doesnโ€™t recur. Washing the acne prone areas with medicated shampoo for the next one year would go a long way in keeping our beloved pets healthy and happy.

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