Although extremely minor in the grand scheme of things, acne can be an extremely annoying health problem to deal with, mainly due to how unsightly it can be. The condition involves the skin becoming irritated as pores become filled with bacteria-rich pus and swell up. Although their skin is mostly obscured by fur, dogs are no stranger to this problem either, and can sometimes suffer from bouts of the condition without their owners necessarily noticing that anything is wrong. Whilst most cases are not necessarily a problem by themselves, the condition can be a sign of a more serious health problem or some other threat to the dog’s wellbeing. Additionally, if an especially bad case of acne is left untreated, it can on occasion lead to a more dangerous skin infection taking hold. Because of this, it is wisest for dog owners to seek to stop acne from appearing on their pet in the first place.
Causes And Prevention Of Acne
Poor Hygiene – Whilst the majority of dogs will be able to keep themselves relatively clean between baths, some are just more predisposed toward both covering themselves in and retaining dirt. This can be due to the nature of their coat, with longer haired breeds especially being at risk of matting due to the accumulation of filth. It can also be due to the dog simply enjoying rolling in mud or crawling through undergrowth and other such activities. In any case, lots of dirt in the dog’s coat brings a lot of bacteria into close contact with the skin for long periods, potentially allowing them to cause an outbreak of acne.
To stop this, owners typically have three options. One is to simply cut the dog’s hair to a shorter length, making them easier to groom and giving dirt less of an opportunity to accumulate. This is fairly effective and can also make acne outbreaks much easier to spot. They can also bathe the dog on a more regular basis in order to remove mud and debris from their coat and skin, although ironically this runs the risk of provoking more acne by depriving the skin of its natural oils and causing irritation. Finally, the owners can invest in behavioral training for their dog to prevent them from doing things such as rolling in dirt without a good reason. This training can also be used to make them more cooperative with grooming sessions and can be quite useful in the long run.
Stress – Much like humans, dogs can suffer outbreaks of spots or rashes due to emotional problems caused by events in their day to day lives. This is because of the secretion of hormones that create the feeling of stress, which can also result in changes to the metabolism and end up inducing the appearance of spots on the dog’s skin. Some individual animals may be especially susceptible to this whilst others may remain unaffected, making it hard to predict. However, by making sure that the dog is not placed under any undue pressure, owners can prevent the hormonal changes due to long-term feelings of anxiety or stress. Specifically, they can make sure that the dog is not regularly placed in situations where it is frequently in conflict with other animals (specifically other household pets) or where it is being constantly disturbed (such as by small children). Additionally, a properly formulated diet will help prevent minor health problems that may otherwise cause the dog to feel unwell on a regular basis. Most effective, however, is to make sure the animal gets plenty of opportunities to exercise, as the pent-up energy that it gets to expend on trips to the park or when playing games in the garden will otherwise cause feelings of restlessness and result in behavioral problems.
Endocrine Disorders – As discussed above, hormones can play a large role in the appearance of acne and whilst environmental factors can play a significant part in that, internal problems with the dog’s body itself can pose an even bigger problem. There are a number of problems that can potentially result in the malfunction of the endocrine system, but the most common are bacterial infections and growths within various glands that may cause them to malfunction. Bacterial infections can most easily be avoided by making sure that the dog has a good standard of hygiene and a sanitary living space as well as the ability to receive prompt treatment for wounds and illnesses. Growths, meanwhile, can take several forms. The first type are cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs that typically occur due to the blockage of drainage pathways within the body. These will typically begin to form in the aftermath of parasite infestations or serious wounds, where tissues may become damaged and then heal incorrectly. The second type are tumors, caused by the rapid uncontrolled multiplication of cells due to cancer. Both types of growths are extremely hard to predict, though some dogs may have a family history of such problems. By carefully observing the dog for major behavioral changes, an owner can potentially catch an endocrine system problem in its early stages, making treatment much easier. Likewise, making sure that the dog has regular check-ups with their vet can help detect the presence of tumors and cysts as they are just starting to develop, making them much easier to treat and lessening their impact on the body.
Parasites – Another common cause of acne is the presence of parasites on the dog’s skin. Creatures such as mites and fleas can easily cause high levels of irritation, swelling and even breaking of the skin that can close up pores or allow bacteria to easily enter. Whilst during the period of infestation, this damage will usually result in open wounds or periodic pain and bleeding, following treatment it can result in the development of acne. There are many effective ways in which to get rid of parasites once they have made a home in the dog (such as shampoos and other medications), but the best way to tackle the problem is to stop it from occurring in the first place. To this end, most dog owners will purchase what is known as a ‘flea collar’, which contains chemicals that the insects find extremely noxious and should keep them away. That said, sometimes more drastic measures may be needed, including the cutting of the dog’s hair to a shorter length and very regular washing of their bedding to stop parasites from being deposited there. Additionally, keeping the dog away from animals that may appear to be infested (i.e. displaying symptoms such as mange or hair loss) will help stop the spread of the parasites.
Effects Of Prevention
By preventing their pet from developing acne, owners can make sure that it remains happy and healthy. The steps that are required to stop acne from developing are remarkably simple to take, as they are all integral parts of being a responsible animal owner. Basic hygiene is just one aspect that is often overlooked, as it is assumed that most dogs have pretty much the same requirements whilst this is absolutely not the case. For instance, breeds of dog with prominent facial folds can be especially prone to developing spots, as the skin will retain significant quantities of dirt and grease that would otherwise go unnoticed. Going through the other steps to prevent the appearance of acne should also raise the dog’s happiness levels and help both it and its owners to get more out of life.
Although acne can appear to be just a minor aesthetic defect and not worthy of any real concern, the condition can actually prove most uncomfortable for the dog. Additionally, if it is left unmonitored, there is a chance that the dog may begin to scratch at the inflamed areas, potentially damaging the skin further and leaving them open to a more serious bacterial infection. For this reason, owners should do their best to stop acne from developing in the first place. Although, the steps needed to prevent the condition can do a great deal more to improve the dog’s quality of life in general.