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How to Treat Dog Acne Naturally

By Evelyn Valdez

March 25, 2019 in CBD Blog
Dog sitting down with tongue out outside

Some may have noticed bumps around their dog's face, similar to human acne. The first question that comes to mind is “do dogs get pimples?”

Well believe it or not, dogs are prone to pimples and acne just like the average person! Just like with people, pimples can manifest on a dog’s skin.

Some people have even started treating their pets with CBD oil for a number of different reasons. A dog is a person’s best friend, so obviously we want the best for them and want to treat them properly and naturally when they are ill.

In this article we will be discussing how dogs get acne, the different types, and how to treat it naturally.

What is dog acne?

According to VCA Animal Hospitals dog acne is “ inflammatory disorder of the lips and the skin of the muzzle.” [1] Canine acne is a benign disorder that can appear in mild or severe cases.

It often appears as red bumps or pustules (pimples). These bumps appear due to inflammation but do not squeeze them.

Acne around the chin is classified as muzzle folliculitis. Folliculitis is inflammation of the hair follicles. When the follicles become infected, they rupture in a process called furunculosis.

Squeezing them or trying to pop them will likely cause the inflammation to spread.

What causes my dog's acne?

Just like with humans, pimples/acne are caused by the combination of build-up of dead skin cells and an oily sebum. The sebum is secreted by the glands through ducts that open into the hair follicles.

So this combination of oil and dead cells plug the hair follicles thus making them inflamed. Causes of dog acne can vary depending on age as well.

These breakouts tend to be normal for puppies. Puppy acne usually happens around the ages of 5-8 months. Common cases can persist in 2 year old dogs as well.

A few possible causes are:

  • food allergy from dog food
  • poor hygiene
  • bacterial infections
  • fungal infection
  • hormonal changes

Another possible cause of is genetic disposition. Acne is most common in dogs with short fur and may be caused by bacterial infections or trauma to the skin. There are certain dog breeds that are more susceptible to acne. To find

According to VCA Hospitals the most commonly affected breeds includes: Boxers, English Bulldogs, Great Danes, German Shorthaired Pointers, Weimaraners, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers[1].

It is important to know that although these type of dogs are more susceptible, other breeds can still develop skin problems or skin infections.

Canine acne is normally caused by bacterial infections, trauma to the skin, type of breed, allergies, and poor hygiene.

Signs and symptoms

Black and white photo of dog jumping

The most common sign of acne is skin lesions on the dogs muzzle and lips. Unusual amount of itching and scratching is another hint at an acne outbreak occurring soon.

Here are a list of common signs of acne:

  • Bumps
  • Blackheads
  • Infection development
  • Dog may rub his face against carpet and furniture
  • Swelling
  • Pus in the lesions from bacterial invasion
  • Lesions are painful when you touch them
  • Scars from lesions that have healed

Veterinarians can diagnose a dog's acne just by the clinical appearance around the dog’s muzzle and lips. A biopsy of the skin may be required to confirm that it is an acne outbreak, and rule out other skin conditions.

Acne can be painful and cause discomfort so it is important to treat them properly and take them to the veterinarian if the outbreak is getting significantly worse.

Lesions and bumps found on the lips and muzzle is the most common signs of acne. Excessive itching and scratching is a sign that an acne outbreak may occur.

Different types of dog acne

There are two main types of acne: superficial and deep. Superficial acne is when it acne affects the surface of the skin. This usually occurs when hair follicles become irritated which causes itchy bumps to form.

Deep acne is when a staphylococcus infection spreads and gets out of control. This happens when the lesions affect deeper layers of the dog’s skin. So when a dog scratches the superficial acne it irritates the skin leaving it susceptible to a bacterial infection.

There are various types of canine acne depending on where the deep acne is located on the body. The types are:

  • Superficial acne - pimples and bumps around the pet’s muzzle, chin and lips.

  • Juvenile acne - affects puppies around six months of age. Typically progresses until the puppy’s food is changed to an adult formula.

  • Nasal acne - Caused by trauma to the area of the nose. This occurs when puppies or dogs are curious and constantly sticking their noses into unsuitable areas.

  • Hyperkeratosis - Appearance of calluses that are a result of your dog producing too much keratin. It is a thickening of the skin which just look like pimples.

  • Interdigital acne or furunculosis - Boils between your puppy’s paws. It can be caused by bristly hair follicles being forced into the skin when the dog walks.

There are two main types of canine acne: Deep and Superficial. Superficial acne is found on the surface of the skin. Deep acne can be located on various parts of the body and occurs when a staphylococcus infection spreads.

Veterinarian diagnosis

Veterinarians will likely administer some of the following methods when diagnosing your dog's infection. Common veterinarian diagnosis includes:

  • Skin scraping - an instrument is used to scrape skin cells. The cells are viewed under a microscope to look for infections or parasites.

  • Hair plucking - hair is investigated for mites or fungal infections

  • Bacterial sensitivity - Skin scraping or needles are used to look for bacterial infections

  • Biopsy - a deep section of the skin is taken to look for tissue disease, usually a last resort

  • Blood test - used to check for some autoimmune skin affecting diseases

Common treatments

If your dog's acne does not seem severe and is not complicating her quality of life, we suggest trying some at-home solutions. Be sure to monitor your dog's reaction to these treatments along the way.

The most common treatment for canine acne according to VCA Hospitals is topical benzoyl peroxide [1]. It is available over the counter and can be found at any pharmacy or store.

Applying benzoyl peroxide topically will help flush out the hair follicle and reduce bacteria. This is typically successful with mild cases of canine acne.

There are various other treatment options like topical steroids, oral antibiotics, and topical antibiotics, but some people may prefer a more natural approach for their furry friend.

A few natural treatments include:

  • Hygiene improvement - Bathing more frequently, once a week, or whenever you feel like your dog needs a bath. Brush your dog's teeth regularly. Dental hygiene is important to prevent an acne breakout around the dog's lips and mouth.

  • Medicated shampoo - Dog shampoo's with aloe vera or echinacea or good anti-bacterial shampoos for dogs.

  • Benzoyl peroxide - As discussed earlier, applying benzoyl peroxide topically can reduce inflammation. It is also found in some dog shampoos.

  • Diluted apple cider vinegar - Mix water with Apple Cider Vinegar in a spray bottle and spray some on the infected skin area. This helps with hot spots and pimples.

  • Coconut oil - This can be fed directly to the dog or applied topically on the infected area.

  • CBD oil/products - There are various CBD pet products that can ease the symptoms of dog acne. CBD oil or CBD dog treats can help.

There are various treatment options for dog acne. A few include benzoyl peroxide, coconut oil, CBD oil, topical antibiotics, and more.

If the acne persists and gets worse then take your dog to a veterinarian so they can take a look at it and see if there is another underlying cause. They will provide you with the appropriate medication for your dog.

CBD is the best natural solution for your dog

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the newest form of natural medicine for humans and for dogs! It can be used to treat an array of health conditions in dogs.

A few benefits of CBD include:

  • Joint pain and mobility - helps reduce inflammation from osteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis in dogs

  • Separation, noise, and travel anxiety - CBD has calming effects that can help with multiple anxieties.

  • Nausea - can be caused from treatments, medications or motion sickness. CBD has no side effects unlike other antiemetic meds.

For a full list of benefits read our benefits of CBD for pets article. CBD is still being researched and it is important to know that it is being used as a treatment for symptoms, it is not a cure.

The problem with over the counter drugs are the side effects. Since these steroid creams and drugs are made in a lab, they aren't a good long term solution.

We personally have found success in making positive lifestyle changes and using all natural supplements that are healthy for your pup.

CBD Pet Treats are a natural, holistic remedy to promote general dog health. They resemble real treats, are easily digested, and can help with skin relief for your dog. CBD helps reduce the itchiness and redness that comes with dog acne inflammation.

Urbul Pet Treats are made with natural ingredients and every package contains 100mg of CBD.


Dogs are prone to skin conditions like acne and pimples. It's important to know how to treat it properly and ensure that it is under control and does not spread. Natural remedies are best for mild cases of acne.

Adding CBD to your dog's daily routine and taking better care of their hygiene is a good natural way to treat mild acne and to prevent acne breakouts in the future. For more severe cases, visit your veterinarian so they can determine the best form of medication for your dog.



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