puppy lead chin acne

Puppy acne and how to treat it

Have you found raised spots, white heads (pustules/pimples) and scabs on your puppy's chin? Puppy acne is also known as muzzle folliculitis, furunculosis or pyoderma. It is a common skin condition that usually appears on the lip and chin area of young puppies. Some puppies will only have mild chin acne, which may pass unnoticed, or you may see some small raised white spots. Other puppies can suffer more severely with it as the spots or boils on the chin can be sore. Our vet explains how you can help your pet.

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What causes of acne in puppies?

The exact cause of puppy acne is unclear. It is thought that it might be linked to:

  • Genetics

  • Hormonal imbalance

  • Trauma

  • Food or environmental allergies

  • Moisture/humidity

  • Suppressed immune system

  • Stress

What does puppy acne look like?

You will often see blackheads and/or whiteheads/pimples/pustules. In more severe cases, they can become inflamed and swell, and they might become painful. The skin can appear red and angry. There may be some hair loss and bleeding. Often the whiteheads dry to leave small crusty lesions, which indicates healing.

What breeds are more likely to develop puppy acne?

All breeds can develop acne, but some breeds are more likely to suffer with it than others. For example:
Great Danes

Is puppy acne likely to occur at a certain age?

If there is a hormonal influence, it often occurs at 5 to 8 months of age (puberty). However, if it is associated with trauma of the skin whilst playing and chewing, it can often be seen from 3 months of age onwards. It usually resolves once puppies reach about one year of age.

How do you treat puppy acne?

Treatment of puppy acne usually involves cleaning the chin to remove the excess sebum, and reducing the formation of blackheads/whiteheads. However, sometimes other treatment options may also need to be considered:

  • Warm compresses - to reduce swelling and inflammation

  • Medicated shampoo - to clean the chin and flush out the hair follicles

  • Antimicrobial ointments or gels

  • Antibiotics - topical antibiotic creams and gels are of limited value as they are soon licked or cleaned off by puppies. In severe cases where an infection is present, oral antibiotics are usually required. Treatment courses are often prolonged for 4-6 weeks due to the nature of the infection

  • Steroids - short-term treatment with steroids may be needed in severe cases to reduce the inflammation and associated pain

How do you clean a puppy's chin?

A chlorhexidine antimicrobial solution can be used to clean the chin where puppy acne is developing. The solution must be diluted to a 1:10 dilution (1 part antimicrobial solution to 9 parts water). The solution should be applied to the area and left on the skin for five minutes contact time before being rinsed off with plain water and the skin gently dried. This contact time is required for effective antimicrobial action. Initially, diluted chlorhexidine can be used two to three times daily, until the breakout subsides and in most mild cases, no further treatment is required.

How do you prevent puppy acne?

  • Replace any plastic food and water bowls with nonporous, smooth bowls made from ceramic, glass or stainless steel

  • Wash food and water bowls daily

  • Clean and dry your puppy’s chin after each meal

  • Try to avoid toys with sharp edges that might cause trauma

  • Do not allow your puppy to rub their face on carpets, rugs etc that might cause trauma

  • Do not pick or squeeze their spots

When to see your vet?

  • Puppy acne does not resolve with regular chlorhexidine bathing

  • Puppy acne is painful

  • Breakouts are recurring frequently

Still worried?

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What can we do for your furry friend?

  • Assess how they are in that exact moment
  • Answer your questions, offer advice, and make a plan about your concerns
  • Recommend easily available, over-the-counter pet health products when sufficient
  • Make a referral to a local vet when necessary
Book an appointment
  • Included free as part of many pet insurance policies Included free as part of many pet insurance policies
  • Help, treatment and if you need it, a referral to your local vet Help, treatment and if you need it, a referral to your local vet
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