My Dog Has Acne!
by Fiona Young-Brown
No doubt many of us have unhappy memories of pimples during our teen years, but who knew our dogs could also get acne? As it happens, young dogs go through the trials of puberty too, and that may include dog pimples. I had never heard of such a thing until my husky pup Sam developed a small bald spot on his chin, covered in little pink pimples.
The condition is more common in younger dogs, usually appearing at around five or six months of age, however since the acne may also be cause by allergies or hormonal imbalances, it is not restricted to younger dogs. The larger the dog, the greater the chance of developing pimples, so your Great Dane or German Shepherd is more likely to experience acne than the Shih Tzu next door. As for what it looks like, doggy acne usually appears as little red pimples or pustules on the chin and around the lips.
Before going any further, it is vital to mention that under no circumstances should you use acne treatments designed for people on your pooch’s pimples. The levels of benzoyl peroxide will be far too high for use of animals.
It is always a good idea to check with your vet at the first signs of any skin condition. The vet may want to run a few tests to rule out other more serious conditions, such as mange and ringworm. If the pimples are being caused by an allergic reaction to something in your dog’s food, the vet may also be able to advise you. Once more serious illnesses have been ruled out, you can move on to treating it to ensure that the pimples don’t return. Common treatments prescribed by your vet may include skin wipes (with animal appropriate levels of benzoyl peroxide, a topical skin treatment), steroids, or antibiotics.
Understandably, not everyone feels comfortable using steroid or antibiotics treatments, and may prefer to reach the root of the problem. Fortunately, there are also a number of more natural remedies you can do at home. My dog Sam is incredibly inquisitive when he’s out and about and gets into all kinds of dirt and other things filled with bacteria, so one of my first concerns was making sure the pimples did not get infected. Each day, I would hold a warm washcloth over the area to open the pores, then gently clean the affected area with a mild shampoo . If you have an aloe vera plant at home, a small dab of the gel can also help to ease any itchiness.
Another convenient option that doesn’t involved wetting the dog’s face with shampoo are pre-moistened wipes. Believe it or not the antibacterial ingredients in the Happytails Eyepads make them an ideal wipe for the entire facial area. They contain witch hazel, which is a gentle astringent, colloidal silver, a very effective natural antibiotic and golden seal which is a natural antimicrobial agent.
For a more long-term solution, an all natural or raw diet has proven to be helpful for avoiding all sorts of skin complaints. Common allergens in commercial food, including wheat, soy, gluten and corn, can all cause acne in some dogs. Switching to an organic diet of meat and vegetables, with some added salmon oil for essential fatty acids can help enormously.
Fortunately, puberty-related acne usually resolves itself after a few months, as your puppy’s growth hormones settle. In the case of allergies, an organic diet like the one mentioned above can have quick results but the diet must be continued to prevent recurring outbreaks. With a little care and attention, you can not only clear your dog’s skin of pimples, but also ensure that our beloved pet has a lifetime of healthy, beautiful skin.