Canine Acne

by Nancy Boland

Usually referred to as a very human condition, acne can actually occur in dogs too. Particularly common in puppies and younger dogs, acne and blackheads can be a canine issue too and just like with people, will sometimes require veterinary treatment.

So, how can you tell if your dog has spots or blackheads, and  how should you deal with it if your dog is spotty or appears to be undergoing hormonal skin changes young or old?

canine acne 1

Puppy acne and canine acne

Just as teenagers are prone to acne as they go through the hormonal changes, so too can adolescent dogs suffer from the same problem! Acne may also be present in adult or older dogs, and for some dogs, much the same as other skin conditions, it can continue to recur throughout their lives.

Often once a dog is spayed or neutered, this will automatically lead to a reduction in the hormone production that leads to the outbreak of spots, acne or blackheads, but this is not always the case, as blackheads and spots can sometime occur alongside of hormonal changes, environmental, or breed sensitivities.


As with your own spots, picking at spots on your dog should be avoided at all cost as this can lead to infection, and eventual scarring.

The medications or treatments that your vet will prescribe to deal with blackheads or an outbreak of spots are often similar or related to human products that deal with the same condition. However, you should never use human spot treatments on your dog, as they are too strong and will make the problem much worse than it already is.

Your vet will generally advise washing the affected area daily with a mild soap solution, and they may also prescribe a mild benzoyl peroxide cream or topical treatment to treat the spots.

Skin Conditions

There are a few skin problems and conditions that can look similar to canine blackheads or acne, the most common of these being a condition known as folliculitis, which usually flares up where sweat and moisture gathers around the grown and armpit areas. Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles, resulting in pus formation and blackheads. Mild cases are often just treated the same way as regular acne but in long-term cases antibiotics are used.

While any breed or type of dog can theoretically develop folliculitis, it is particularly common in Schnauzers of all sizes, so it’s wise to be aware of the problem should you own one.

Demodetic mange

Tinny irritating skin mites known as demodetic mange is another condition that can both look like spots and blackheads and can actually cause them to develop. You will know if your dog is infected as they will begin to lose their fur and skin will appear sore and inflamed causing your dog to itch.

Formal diagnosis is required in order to take a skin scraping for microscopic examination, and a range of different treatment methods may be used, including antibiotics, anti-parasitics and other medications.

All of these conditions can be very irritating and sore, depending on the severity and type of skin condition, but none are fatal and even though some may recur throughout your dog’s life, all are treatable.

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