Acne, Canine

(Chin and Muzzle Folliculitis and Furunculosis)
By Dr. Karen Burgess

Canine acne is a skin condition characterized by papules, pustules, and inflammation of hair follicles. The cause and pathogenesis of canine acne is unknown. The condition spontaneously resolves in many animals when they reach adulthood, although some animals remain affected for life.

Canine acne occurs most commonly over the chin and lips of young, shorthaired breeds. Lesions consist of red bumps (papules) or pus-filled bumps (pustules) involving hair follicles. These bumps may ulcerate and drain a bloody or pus-filled discharge. Occasionally, the hair follicles can rupture (Furunculosis) resulting in extensive inflammation and development of small, fibrous nodules. If lesions are minimal they may cause very little discomfort to the animal but extensively affected areas may be painful or itchy.

Breeds most commonly affected are Doberman Pinschers, English Bulldogs, Great Danes, Weimaraners, Rottweilers, Boxers, and German Shorthaired Pointers.

Diagnose of canine acne is made by clinical signs and history. Skin scrapings, fungal and bacterial cultures may be performed to rule out mange and fungal infections or determine what antibiotic is appropriate.

Treatment involves cleansing affected areas daily with a medicated shampoo or ointment to aid in removal of debris from hair follicles and to decrease bacterial numbers on the skin. A topical antibacterial ointment is then applied twice daily. Severe cases may require systemic antibiotics.

Key Point: There are a small number of cases that cannot be cured but just controlled with continuous treatment.