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What is Acne?
When most people think of acne, they think of the awkward skin condition that many people experience during puberty. However, acne is also something that can affect pets. Both cats and dogs can get acne which can be recognized by the red bumps (papules) and blackheads (comedones) that develop on the chin and lip areas.
While these acne spots generally don’t bother your pet, they can become infected after which they become itchy and painful. In some cases, hair loss in the affected area and loss of pigmentation occurs.
Canine Acne is not very common, although certain short-haired breeds such as boxers, bulldogs, and Rottweiler’s tend to be more at risk that other type of dogs. Most cases of canine acne start during puberty (5-8 months) and the condition typically resolve itself when your puppy reaches 1 year old.
Feline Acne is far more common and the condition tends to be a life-long one that is not limited to puberty. In cats, acne tends to begin at around 1 year old and can come and go in cycles. While the exact cause of the acne is unknown, it assumed that it is a disease where the oil glands produce excessive amounts of oil.
What causes Acne?
It is unclear what the exact causes of pet acne are; however there seem to be a number of factors that are associated with it. In puppies, acne may be due to the hormonal changes associated with puberty. Other factors that could cause acne in pets include:
- stress or trauma
- a weakened immune system
- the presence another disease or illness
- poor grooming habits
- blocked oil glands
- disease of the oil glands resulting in excessive oil production
- other skin conditions such as dermatitis
It is important to take your pet to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis if you suspect your pet has acne, as there are a few other conditions that may look similar. Your pet’s veterinarian may take skin scrapings and fungal cultures in order to rule out other conditions. Conditions that may need to be ruled out include:
- Demodicosis (a type of non-contagious mange)
- Puppy strangles (An illness affecting young puppies)
- Fungal Infections
Help for Acne
There are a number of conventional treatments that your veterinarian may recommend. These include topical retinoids, benzoyl peroxide ointments or washes, topical antibiotics and steroids. Oral retinoids are sometimes given to cats with acne; however these can cause liver damage and require close veterinary monitoring.
Many pet owners are turning to herbal and homeopathic remedies as a safer alternative to some of the conventional medications out there. There are a number of natural ingredients that can be used to promote over all skin health and assist with the treatment of many skin conditions including acne.
Fucus vesiculosis is often used in the treatment of skin conditions and to promote healthy skin and coat. Other commonly used ingredients include Spirulina which is well known for its nutritive properties and its ability to encourage all round systemic health, and Dandelion which serves as a rich source of vitamins and minerals. The tissue salt Kali. Sulph. is also recommended for treating skin conditions as helps to regulate and normalize the skin on a cellular level, and is often used in the treatment of eczema and fungal infections.
More Information on Acne
Tips for the home treatment of Acne
- Try washing your pet’s chin daily with warm water and a mild antibacterial soap. Make sure the soap is not fragranced as this may simply cause more irritation. Epson salts can also be used to clean the area followed by a gentle and natural antibacterial cleanser.
- A warm compress applied to the affected area can help to unblock plugged up pores. Simply use a warm washcloth and hold it to your pets chin for a couple of minutes until the cloth is cool.
- Plastic bowls should be avoided as they are porous and tend to harbor bacteria and other germs that could trigger an acne outbreak. Some pets may also be allergic to the chemicals in the plastic so opt for glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowls instead.
- Acne can be a reaction to other environmental toxins such as a flea collar, pesticides, or house-hold cleaning agents. Try removing these from your pet’s environment so they can be ruled out as possible triggers.
- Some pets have poor grooming habits and so cleaning your pets chin after meal times sometimes helps.
- Boost your pet’s immune system with Echinacea. This will help protect your pet against acne from the inside out.
- Avoid squeezing! While it may be seem tempting to squeeze your pets acne to help relieve some of their discomfort, it is never a good idea. Squeezing blackhead and pustules increase the chances of infection and could make the break-out worse.