Can Dogs Get Pimples?

Apr 2, 2020 | Pet Health, Pets

Did you know that dogs can get acne just as people do?  Have you ever seen a dog with white and red pimples around their mouth?  When I adopted my old dog Bear years ago from the shelter, he was around 1 year old and I noticed tiny bumps around his mouth with some missing hair.  I panicked thinking it was a bacterial infection and rushed to the vet only to find out they were pimples!!

Jake helping me with my blog 🙂

"A house without a dog is like a garden without flowers"

What exactly is a dog pimple?

Just like their human owners, dogs possess sebaceous glands in their hair follicles.  These glands normally produce protective oils that protect the hair and keep the skin supple, but at times, these glands become clogged or irritated.  Unable to escape the gland, the oil (sebum) backs up, causing the area to become raised and inflamed. Eventually, the skin breaks or the clog ruptures, allowing the contents of the pimple to drain.  Dogs can develop several different types of pimples, including whiteheads, blackheads or enclosed pimples.  Canine acne is an inflammatory skin condition.

Why do dogs get pimples?

Allergies to food may cause breakouts.  Breakouts may also be related to chemical or environmental changes.

Dogs are more susceptible during adolescence.  If they experience it early on, they are prone to have reoccurring breakouts.

Poor hygiene can cause pimples on your dog.  

Hormonal changes in a female dog who has not been fixed.  This is another reason to get your dog fixed.

Friction and poor hygiene can increase the likelihood of follicular irritation, which can lead to pimple formation.  Make sure your dog’s collar is not rubbing against the skin and is fitted well.

Trauma:  Canine acne can also be brought on by trauma to the hairs (due to constant rubbing or something else).  According to VCAHospitals:

“Trauma can cause hairs to break off near the skin’s surface, leading to inflammation within the hair follicle and eventual rupture of the hair follicle. When the hair follicle ruptures, its contents are released into the surrounding skin. This creates further inflammation within the skin, as the contents of the hair follicles are recognized as foreign by the surrounding tissues. Although the inflammation associated with canine acne is often sterile (non-infected) in the early stages, bacteria can easily colonize this damaged skin and lead to infection.”

Individual susceptibility just like humans where one is more prone than the other.  As for dog breeds, there are some dogs breeds who experience acne over the others:

• Rottweilers
• Boxers
• Great Danes
• Dobermans
• English bulldogs
• Mastiffs
• Weimaraners
• Pugs
• Pit bulls and American Staffordshire terriers

How do you treat dog acne?

It is always disheartening to see pimples on your dog but it is very important to take them to the vet to rule out any underlying issues or a bacterial infection.  Your vet can prescribe medicated shampoos, medicated wipes, or a benzoyl peroxide gel.  More serious cases can lead to generalized swelling of the lips and muzzle, bleeding wounds, and scabs.  In more severe cases, steroids may be applied to decrease swelling and inflammation. Your vet may also recommend antibiotics.


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What Do You Think? Let Us Know!


  1. Sharon

    That’s one problem we have never had to deal with!
    Happy Easter to Jake and Maggie!
    Just a note, Emily is trying to teach George to ring a bell to let her know when he wants outside. It sure is extra special and comforting to have our furry family with us these days! Take care and stay well.

    • Bobbi

      I’m so sorry. This comment slipped right by me but I wanted to respond. Better late than never. I hope George learned fast!


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