Skip to content


  • by

These are relatively common, usually mild, but pathological conditions of the skin – mostly, but not only, around the chin and lips’ areas. The skin (of infected puppies and young dogs) develops an inflammatory disorder, which can become self-perpetuating and long-lasting if not treated immediately. The ailment will not just go away as the pup/young dog grows older.
I have placed the two terms “Acne” and “Impetigo” together because of their similarity. Let me clarify these two conditions:
ACNE is identified by a collection of purplish-red bumps primarily on the animal’s chin and lower lip. These pimples come together and become infected, releasing a discharge of a thick, slimy fluid and pus. It is more often found in dogs with oily skin.
IMPETIGO (also called “Milk Rash” or “Puppy Pyoderma”) is found more on the face, underbelly, and on the hairless parts of the lower abdomen and groin. The pus-filled blisters rupture easily, leaving behind thin brown crusts. It is a contagious bacterial (staphs) skin infection. The bacteria enter the skin via scrapes/ cuts/bruises. The blisters can be found anywhere on the dog’s body.
These conditions seem more prevalent in larger dog breeds with coats of short hair, such as Boxers, Dobermans and Rottweilers. We don’t have too many Great Danes, Weimaraners, German Short Haired Pointers and English Bull Dogs here in Guyana, but during my years practising in Europe, especially Germany, I recall that those latter breeds mentioned were the ones which mostly presented themselves with Acne/Impetigo conditions in the Clinic.
Often, the caregivers do not immediately recognize that there is a problem. Not until the tiny papules merge together to become pustules, and later crusts, do pet owners conclude that there is a problem. If left untreated, ulcers develop – with a lot of itching and scratching and even bleeding. The affected and infected skin becomes thickened, and could produce scar tissue in the area, which could be difficult to treat, or even become irreparable. Secondarily, a fungus and bacterial infection can emerge and complicate matters.

Right at the outset, I prefer not to waste time with some soothing balm. Rather, I would advise caregivers that an ointment concoction be prepared and applied on the lesioned areas once every twelve hours. This ointment must contain antifungal, antibacterial, soothing anti-itch and anti-inflammatory components. Your veterinarian will advise you accordingly, and/or even prepare the salve concoction for the animal.
Of course, the choice of treatment and the prescribed dosage rate would depend on how far the infection has progressed and the severity of the ailment.
Mild lesions may be controlled with specific gentle shampoos, gels, creams and lotions – under veterinary advice. Do not use anti-tick, anti-flea shampoos, which are usually so strong that any such application on a pup’s soft and fragile chin skin may almost surely exacerbate the condition.
Not seldomly, veterinarians are confronted with chronic cases. The pet’s owner/ caregiver might have waited too long to present the suffering animal to the vet for science-based treatment. Such chronic cases may need weeks of therapy for a complete healing to be achieved.

* Owners/caregivers must discontinue their own homemade interventions, as well as the implementation of advice from Google et al, if no improvement is being ascertained, or if the condition worsens.
* Do not use topical corticosteroids (against the itching) unless such intervention is under veterinary medical supervision.
* Owners/caregivers must not squeeze the pustules on the chin/lips/body, hoping to extract the contents.
* Purchase a “cone” (also called an Elizabethan Collar) from one of the many shops selling veterinary and pet products. Apply the cone in such a way that the pup/young dog cannot scratch at the affected area.

Canine Acne/Impetigo could have a good outcome if (as I have emphasized above) the condition is arrested by competent and knowledgeable intervention. Most dogs would achieve a permanent (and a non-returning) cure.
In cats, my experience has been that Acne/Impetigo has a pretty good prognosis. However, it is not a singular occurrence, that intermittent treatment may continuously be needed over a long period.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.