Dog Skin Problems & Acne Treatment – Can Dogs Get Pimples?


Dog skin problems are very common. They can be prone to the same unpleasant medical issues that humans are. But what does it mean when you’re running your fingers through your dog’s fluffy fur and you come across a lump or bump that wasn’t there a few days ago?

This is the #1 antiseptic and antifungal spray that many vets use for their pets.

It can be a variety of things, and while the best advice is to always call your dog’s vet if you have any questions, your first thought might be, “Is this a zit?”.

Chin pimples on a bulldog.

Chin pimples on a bulldog.

Can Dogs Get Acne?

That’s the biggest question here, isn’t it? Just like teenagers, it is possible for adolescent dogs to get acne between the ages of 5 and 8 months. Some breeds are more prone to this skin condition, particularly short haired breeds like Dobermans and Boxers. However, it will usually disappear once the dog hits a year old and is finished with his “teenage” years.

Other causes of acne can include trauma, poor hygiene, and even allergic reactions to food or products. Signs of canine acne can vary from dog to dog, but typical acne usually presents the same way it does in humans. The dog will get red bumps on their body, particularly around the lips, chin, and neck.

Dog Pimples

Big whitehead pimple on a dog.

Big whitehead pimple or is it a cyst?

The blemishes become a problem when they become infected. Like the acne you get, the pimples on your dog can also become quite painful, causing them to rub their face against the carpet or furniture in an attempt to alleviate the pain. When they break open, they’re then open and susceptible to bacterial infections.

When you combine open wounds with a dog’s tongue and their constant nose-to-ground explorations, you’re bound to see some sort of infection.

Like any skin condition, you shouldn’t treat your dog’s acne unless he’s been examined by a veterinarian. There are other diseases out there that look like acne and can be quite dangerous to your dog’s overall health if they aren’t treated properly. However, if your vet has confirmed that your poor dog is suffering from acne, they’ll give you some options based on what’s causing it.

If it’s hygiene related, regular bathing can help mitigate the problem or your vet can prescribe a medicated wash. You should put some chlorhexidine pads in your first aid kit as every owners kit should be custom tailored to their own dog.

If your doctor has decided that it’s allergy related, you’ll have to narrow down the foods or products that your dog is allergic to. Recurring infections will mean your dog might need antibiotics to clear the infection up or steroids to keep the inflammation at bay.

Check out this video of a monster acne on a dog:

Dog Skin Conditions

If not dog pimples then what is it and how do you treat it?

As said above, it’s possible that your dog doesn’t have acne and he has another skin condition that just looks like pimples. Again, this can only be decided by your vet and shouldn’t be treated at home without medical guidance.

Sebaceous cysts can look very much like huge zits and it is one of the more common skin conditions in dogs. They occur when the sebaceous glands (that produce oil) become blocked and enlarged. They can range in size from small mosquito-bite sized to two inches across. Inside is a white, greasy fluid that looks like glue or cottage cheese that consists of oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells.

Dogs have many skin conditions, just like their human friends.

Dogs have many skin conditions, just like their human friends.

Sometimes they’ll rupture, reminding many owners of a giant whitehead, or the encased material can be manually squeezed out. Very large, irritated cysts have to be surgically removed (one reason among many that vet surgical tech has become a specialty).

Hives appear suddenly but chronic allergic reactions can be mistaken for acne. Hives are typically noticed on the face because there’s less hair present, but very large hives can be felt all over the body. Facial swelling might accompany the hives, thus eliminating the possibility that it’s acne. Your dog might sneeze or rub his face because it itches and his entire body might become red and irritated.

Dog Skin Allergies

If you suspect your dog is having an allergic reaction to something (most commonly the food they eat), you should consult with your vet to decide on a course of antihistamine treatment. Facial swelling should be seen immediately by the vet to prevent your dog’s airway from being compromised due to the swelling.

Skin allergies in dogs should be taken seriously which means what they eat matters and not any dog food will do. If that’s the case, then you need to look for the best food for dogs with skin allergies.


Canine with granuloma.

Demodectic mange is a type of mange caused by the Demodex mite. When these mites overtake the dog’s skin, it can lead to hair loss, painful skin lesions, and even immune disorders. The infection can affect just specific areas of the body or the entire body. Some dogs might have patchy hair loss, while others will lose most of the hair on their body.

A few signed to check for if they have hair loss would be:

  • Red skin
  • Constant irritation and itchy skin
  • At times their skin can get scaly as well

Your vet (or the assisting vet tech) will take a skin scraping and look at it under the microscope to find evidence of the mites. Severe cases will require medicated baths and even steroids to alleviate the itching and inflammation.

It goes without saying that any time you find a lump on your dog, no matter the size, you should take them to the vet.

Skin problems in dogs are unpleasant at best. Hopefully it’s something as simple as acne, but it’s possible that it’s slightly more serious. Only a veterinarian can decide what’s a threat to your dog’s health and what’s relatively benign, but it’s also important to seek the proper treatment so your dog is as comfortable as possible.