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Dog and Cat Acne – What You Need to Know

Vet Talks 4 min read
Dog and Cat Acne - What You Need To Know

When it comes to skin issues in pets, dog and cat acne is among the most common. Although quite uncomfortable, these skin lumps can be easily addressed or prevented with good hygiene habits and a balanced diet. But, if left untreated, acne can lead to serious complications in your pet.

What is Cat Acne?

Feline acne is usually associated with poor hygiene habits

Commonly confused as a “dirty chin”, acne in cats initially appears as black dots, mainly on the chin and lower lip. These dark lesions or spots are clogged follicles, known as comedones. In chronic cases of cat acne, cysts and scars may develop. 

Unlike in humans, acne affects mostly adult and elderly cats and is usually associated with poor hygiene habits, abnormal sebaceous production, or stress. In certain cases, diseases, such as autoimmune disorders or ringworm can also cause cat acne. Many kitties also have skin sensitivity, most commonly to the plastic used in some food bowls, which may lead to these blemishes. 

Plastic dishes are also prone to bacteria, as they can get proliferate in small abrasions on the surface of the plastic and lead to issues like acne. In most cases, changing your kitty’s food bowl to glass, ceramic, or stainless steel dishes may decrease outbreaks.

Do Dogs Get Acne?

More like us humans, acne usually appears at puberty in dogs, which points to a possible hormonal involvement. Canine acne is characterized by folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicle) and furunculosis (disruption of the hair follicle). This means that acne in dogs usually presents itself as redness and inflammation under the chin, muzzle, and lips. 

Dog acne is usually caused by an obstruction of the hair follicle, by keratinous or sebaceous material due to daily abrasions. This happens when a dog rubs their skin constantly against surfaces, probably to relieve an itch or due to stress. If your dog rubs their muzzle very often, you may also want to discuss possible allergies with your local veterinarian.

Also, unlike cats, there is a breed predisposition for dog acne, as reported in Dobermann dogs. If you have a Dobe or your dog is predisposed to skin issues, it’s important to make sure your little one is dried properly after a bath to prevent the proliferation of bacteria and fungi, especially in the folds.

How To Diagnose Acne in Dogs and Cats

The diagnosis of acne will be based on clinical signs and complementary exams. The vet will recommend a treatment based on the clinical history of the pet and specific exams, such as histopathology. In some cases, complementary exams might be necessary.

Common clinical signs of acne in pets include:

  • Skin inflammation
  • Alopecia
  • Cutaneous nodules
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Secretions such as blood and pus (bacterial infection)
  • Pruritus 
Dog and Cat Acne - What You Need To Know

Treatment Options for Pets with Acne

The veterinarian will consider the severity of the case of acne in your little one before making any recommendations. The vet-prescribed medication to be used may also vary, according to the presence or absence of infection and based. So a visit to your local vet is highly recommended.

Some of the most common treatment options are:

  • Trichotomy – The vet might recommend shaving the hair along the injured area with the help of a professional. This will make it easier to deep clean the follicles and apply topical medication to the lesions. Please don’t try to shave your little one’s hair at home as their skin might be very sensitive and if done incorrectly, it can only aggravate the situation.
  • Warm compress – The heat will facilitate the natural and gentle opening of the skin pores, facilitating the penetration of topical treatment. The warm compresses should be placed for two to four minutes.
  • DO NOT Squeeze – The lesions should never be squeezed, because this act increases the probability of the follicles rupturing, resulting in a worsening of the condition. 

Natural Support for Dog and Cat Acne

There are many ways to support your little one with acne naturally. Generally, topical treatment might be sufficient. Topical therapies usually include antibiotics and antifungals. NHV Ouch Away can be really helpful to address the issue naturally. Ouch Away is a glycerin-based topical spray that may help to calm irritated skin, may aid with fighting against infections, and aids in cases where there is hair loss due to skin injury or trauma. 

Sometimes steroids are necessary to decrease inflammation and discomfort. NHV Yucca acts as a precursor to corticosteroids, produced naturally by the body. This natural extract also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may help address inflammation.

In cases where acne is related to food allergies, NHV Stimmune helps relieve symptoms associated with allergies, like red inflamed skin and face rubbing. The herbs in this blend also help support a healthy balance of your furkiddo’s immune system. It is safe for long-term use and can be used along with a proper dietary plan.  

If your dog or cat’s acne is related to environmental allergies, NHV Alge-Ex may help alleviate the allergy-based symptoms. Alge-Ex is formulated to help with environmental or seasonal allergies, and may support symptoms such as sneezing, itchiness, and eye rubbing.

Natural Support for Underlying Conditions

Acne can also be secondary to pathologies such as demodicosis, dermatophytosis, yeast infection (Malassezia), or eosinophilic granuloma. In those cases, NHV Felimm is one formula that is recommended. Felimm may improve your little one’s ability to fight against bacterial, fungal, or viral infections. This herbal blend also helps balance your pet’s unregulated immune system and may help improve energy levels. 

Acne in dogs can also be a consequence of autoimmune, metabolic, and neoplastic diseases. For these cases NHV Natures Immuno can be really helpful. Natures Immuno contains a blend of mushrooms that may help fight against infections, balance your little one’s immune system, and is beneficial for the endocrine system, should the acne be due to a hormonal imbalance.


If you have any questions about our supplements, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by clicking on the button below! Our team of veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, and pet experts are here to help your little one.

Dr. Barbara Benitez DVM, MS

Dr. Barbara Benitez DVM, MS

Dr. Barbara is a veterinarian from Brazil with a specialty in pet nutrition. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2006 from the University of Uberaba. In 2010, Dr. Barbara received her Master’s of Science in Pet Nutrition from the Federal University of Minas Gerais. She has over 15 years of experience in research and development in the pet food industry. When Barbara isn’t helping pet parents, you can find her spending time with her family, including her senior dog, Caze.

Published: July 27, 2022

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