Dog Pimples on Back, Belly, and Head – Causes, Treatment, and Pictures of Dog Acne

Dog pimples on the chin of a bulldog
Dog pimples on the chin of a bulldog

Can dogs get pimples? Yes, acne pimples and whiteheads are not a reserve for teenage girls and boys; dogs can as well get them. On a good note though, dog pimples stay around for just a short while. Continue reading to learn more about causes, symptoms, and treatments for pimples on dog’s skin. We have as well listed other dermal conditions that can be easily be confused with dog acne.

Dog Pimples on Chin, Lip, Snout, Back, Belly, and Genital Area – What Are They?

Dog pimples (or canine pimples if you like) are often indicative of dog acne, a common inflammatory, benign, a non-cancerous skin condition that is associated with dog puberty.

Dog pimples on the chin of a bulldog
Dog pimples on the chin of a bulldog

When caused by acne, dog pimples most commonly affect the head (occurring on dog’s chin, lips, and muzzle) and the chest.

The skin around the genital area (including the vulva, anus, and the part below the tail) may as well be affected by dog pimples and so can the flank region (the area on the side of the dog lying between the end of the chest and the hind leg).

The flank is what people actually refer to most of the time when they express concern about dog pimples on dog’s stomach, belly, or tummy.

Acne bumps hardly develop on dog’s back (i.e. the real back and the loin areas).

Dog pimples (as in the sense of true pimples) are not the only bumps associated with acne in dogs. The condition may as well be characterized by whiteheads and blackheads and in case of severe irritation, there may be some bleeding and pus discharge from the bumps.

Dog pimples (and other lesions associated with dog acne such as whiteheads and blackheads) usually begins forming at puberty, that is between 5 and 8 months of age, hence the common name dog puberty pimples. It is for this reason that some people also refer to dog pimples as puppy pimples. Acne-induced pimples on dog’s skin are typically short-lived, hardly extending beyond one year of age.

Although rare, dogs aged over 1 year may as well suffer from acne pimples.

Dog pimples (usually red bumps) may be accompanied by other symptoms and signs that are characteristic of dog acne including:

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Popped pimples
  • Scars (just like human acne, dog acne can cause scarring)
  • Swelling
  • Intense itching, evidenced by scratching and rubbing against surfaces e.g. carpets, furniture, etc.
  • Pain when the pimples and other lesions are touched
  • Pus accumulation and discharge in the lesions due to bacterial infection

Dog breeds that have less dense coats e.g. Boxers, Rottweilers and Bulldogs are more susceptible to dog acne.

What Causes Dog Pimples (Dog Acne)

Puberty is the most obvious cause of dog pimples. Dog acne attributed to puberty will appear regardless of what you do. As we have already mentioned, breeds such as bulldogs, Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, boxers, and Great Danes are at higher risk of acne pimples.

It is thought that dog acne occurs when the hair follicles in a dog’s skin become plugged or irritated. When that happens, bacteria often find a fertile ground on which to multiply. This results in inflammation of the surrounding tissues, culminating in red bumps in the affected hair follicles (and sometimes whiteheads, and blackheads).

Dog pimples are often filled with pus and while mild cases of dog acne are hardly disruptive to dog’s routine, severe cases can be very painful and itchy, causing the affected dog significant discomfort.

According to Cesarsway, factors such as hormonal changes, bacterial infection, and poor hygiene can also trigger dog acne, especially in later stages of life.

Other Conditions That May Cause Pimple-Like Bumps on Dogs Skin

We have discussed dog pimples in the context of dog acne, but these tiny red bumps may be confused for other skin conditions, including:

Demodicosis (Demodectic Mange)

This refers to a type of mange (mite infection) caused by the Demodex mite. The condition begins when the population of the mites in hair follicles and skin becomes so huge that causes various complications including hair loss, skin bumps and lesions, genetic disorders, and immune system related complications.

Demodicosis can affect any part of the body, particularly the face, legs, and trunk, or appear all over the body. If it appears all over the body, it is usually associated with symptoms such as hair loss, reddened skin, and scaly patches on the skin.

To rule out Demodicosis, your vet will scarp some tissues from the areas of the skin affected by “dog pimples” and examine them under the microscope. Demodicosis-induced “dog pimples” (and other symptoms) that cover a small area resolve on their own in most cases but generalized cases that cover larger areas or the entire body may necessitate treatment with lime sulfur dips.


According to the PetMD, ringworm infestation looks like an acne breakout during its early stages. Ringworm in dogs is usually caused by infections involving three fungi, namely, Trichophyton mentagrophytes Microsporum canis, and Microsporum gypsum. The incidence of each fungus varies according to your geographical location.

To diagnose the condition, hair samples are usually collected for observation under a microscope. Skin clippings may also be obtained for fungal culture. Treatment usually involves a prescription of antifungal medications.

Puppy Strangles (Juvenile cellulitis)

Puppy strangles may sometimes be confused for dog pimples. Typically afflicting puppies between 3 and 4 months of age, this condition hardly affects adult dogs. It most commonly affects the outer ear, face, and the salivary lymph nodes and tends to affect Gordon setters, Dachshunds, and Golden retrievers more.

Puppy strangles is associated with swollen eyelids and depression with the dog not eating. Skin biopsy is usually needed for diagnosis after which appropriate treatment is prescribed – usually involving corticosteroids, antibiotics, and sometimes chemotherapy.


Allergic reaction to new foods, allergens such as poison ivy etc. can also trigger bumps on the skin that resemble dog pimples. Your vet may recommend a change of diet. Getting rid of any potential irritants and allergens in your dog’s environment may also help.

Dog Pimple Pictures

Enough said about dog pimples. Let us now list a pair of images to give you a picture (pun intended) of what canine pimples look like. If you have some more dog pimple pictures that you may want to share with the other readers, feel free to send them to us:

Dog Pimples picture 1

Dog Pimples picture 2

Dog Pimples picture 3

Dog Pimples Treatment

Most cases of dog acne resolve on their own by the time your puppy hits her first birthday, even without treatment. It is, however, possible that the problem keeps recurring in numerous short episodes before it finally gets cured. If necessary dog pimples treatment usually relies on the use of topical medications. Your vet will determine the best treatment option for your dog.

Below are some of the most common treatments for dog pimples (dog acne):

Benzoyl Peroxide

Topical benzoyl peroxide: For dog pimples that occur on the face, treatment usually involves regular application of benzoyl peroxide cleanser. Because chin and lips (the common problem areas on the face) are sensitive, weak benzoyl peroxide gels is typically used.

NB: Human acne products containing benzoyl peroxide are not recommended for dog pimples as they are usually stronger.

Benzoyl peroxide containing shampoos can also be used to get rid of pimples on dogs skin. Such products usually require consistent use twice a week over a period of time.


Topical application of antibiotics is the preferred choice for dog pimples. It helps to reduce the risk and extent of infection, but for severe cases, antibiotic pills may be prescribed.


Steroids may also be prescribed (topical application) to curb the swelling and inflammation associated with dog pimples.

Proper hygiene

According to Cesarsway, keeping your canine friend clean can also help to get rid of pimples on dog’s skin. The site recommends bathing your dog once a week if possible, and if not, try washing your dog a few times each month. Brushing your dog’s teeth is also of paramount importance as poor dental hygiene is often to blame for dog pimples that occur on and around the mouth.

Pug Pimples

Pug pimples are usually attributed to a skin condition known as Pyoderma. The underlying cause of pyoderma is typically a bacterial infection. The condition is usually characterized by a breakout of red bumps (and sometimes pus-filled bumps or blood-filled blisters), or a rash.

Crusty dry skin also develops in the affected region of the skin. This may be accompanied by weight gain, extreme thirst, and hair loss. In male dogs, there may be signs of feminization.

Pug pimples due to pyoderma appear in the paws (between the toes), on the lips, and along the folds of the face. Treatment of the condition usually involves disinfecting with antiseptic cleansers, antibiotics, medicated shampoos, and whirlpool baths. Change of diet may also be necessary. Your vet will advise you accordingly.

Do you have a question about dog pimples? Feel free to ask below.


  1. we have a shi tzu age of almost 2 and he had red skin all over his body.
    the vet said we should give him dog food that has an omega 9, now months had passed and that didn’t changed. what should we do?

    • You need to find out what he’s allergic to. An allergy panel done with a blood sample is best.

      Maybe try feeding a grain free diet? A lot of dogs are sensitive to grains and food colourings. Salmon and potato or turkey and rice seem to be pretty good for dogs with bad skin.

      You could also try weekly baths with Episooth shampoo or get your vet to prescribe some Malaseb shampoo? I’m not a vet so going off things that help my dog. Rubbing coconut oil into sore patches of skin will also help calm them down and you can feed a spoonful to your dog to help calm any digestive upset.

      Maybe you could consider feeding him a raw diet? My three year old staffie always had such itchy,l skin and sore, itchy feet until we fed him raw food.

      Raw Feeding Rebels are on facebook and have loads of great information about food allergies.

      You could also try putting some Yumega Plus oil (black bottle with blue writing) on his food. That seems to make Teddys skin calmer too.

      Hope this helps a little bit.

      Best of luck with your boy x

  2. My Shih Tzu is 3 and she had the same problems red skin really bad diarrhea and throwing up did tons of tests fecal tests blood tests spent so much money on different dog foods when all we had to do was change her diet to a prescription food because she was allergic to the wheat in the food I have her on Hill’s prescription diet digestive care i/d hopefully that will help! good luck! I also get it at PetSmart but you have to have a prescription so you need to take your dog to the vet and find out what’s going on or maybe ask them if you can try that type of food.

  3. My half lab/ half pit has only one red looking bump. I don’t know if it’s a pimple or what. He will be 6 months tomorrow and isn’t neutered , yet.


  4. We have a five-year-old bull mastiff who has horrible pimples on his chin right now they were so bad that they were bleeding 🙁 i’ve been using lavender and Melaleuca the last two days and they are much much better. Wondering if there’s anything I can do to prevent us from coming back ?

  5. My bitch had a few pimples right in the middle of her back.I clip her due to shedding and so she wears a fleece jacket.I’m wondering if this is just lack of airflow,so I’ve taken the jacket off. Now worry about her being cold while I’m at work!




  7. Hi I was just wondering if you thought that a small dog could contract Coccidiioidomycosis or known as Valley Fever living in Northern Michigan? My sisters dog started getting these bumps all over his body they looked like subcutaneous cysts they burst and pus came out. She took him to a local vet he said he had never seen anything like this in his entire career. They took blood said no problems there. They found that he had these bumps all thru his lymph nodes more and more kept coming up to the surface of his skin and bursting. They did a culture of the fluid coming out of them with no luck they said they couldn’t get it to grow or culture to see what it was. So the conclusion they say is a bacterial infection that they have never seen before. He was and still is quite sick he is very small any advice or information would help please thank you very much, Angela

    • my yellow lab had what you describe . vet was no help. she was at deaths door. i think i cured her by giving her one half cc of injectable one percent ivermectin daily for one month. i would put it in chicken broth for her. i think it was mange but vet said was not mange. you need to be very cautious with ivermectin some breeds cannot take it. i always gave at night when calm with weight appropriate dose of aspirin

    • That’s not what valley fever does. Coming from a state where valley fever is inevitable (AZ) in most dogs, it doesn’t affect skin like that. It starts in the lungs, moves to the blood, and then moves to the bones. Unless you watch for signs of coughing, reverse sneezing, or weight loss, there aren’t other major symptoms that display like skin irregularities. Good luck with your pup!!

    • I have had valley fever so has my dog. My dog never once had anything like pimples. She coughed a lot and coughed up foam. Valley fevers is a fungus that you get from inhaling a spore in the air. It is really hard on pets.

  8. Hi: This is in response to the 3 Dog Pimple Pictures at the end of the article. They are not acne in my opinion. The first is an infection from drinking from plastic water bowls. Only stainless steel bowls, keep them clean. A lot of this “acne” is caused by plastic. The second one looks like it was caused by the dog chewing on a bone or something for a long time on carpeting in the house. As they drool, the friction from the carpet rubs away the top layer of skin and lets bacteria into the area with the drool. That’s why they are in a cluster. The third is just a random infection from, could be anything he got stuck by, twig, grass, his dirty paw??? What I do is wipe the area with alcohol and get a sterilized needle and puncture them and squeeze the puss out. You will learn real quick where the right area is to stick the needle. The dog feels absolutely no pain if you put the needle in the right area and if the area is ready to be punctured. The third photo will have a thick white puss versus the other 2 which will be bloody liquid with puss. You probably have to do the first two pictures for 2 or 3 days, but you shouldn’t need a needle the 2nd or 3rd day, just squeeze. The 3rd one should be a one shot deal. Once the puss is out they heal real quick. This advice is for boxers, that’s all I ever owned.

    • You should actually only use glass bowls actually, as stainless steel can get scratches in the surface which will allow bacterias to grow in them. My cat had a horrendous case of feline acne. I had no idea until I smelled something that turned my stomach it smelled so bad. She was VERY elderly at this point in her life and basically ate and slept, so it was pretty rare that I saw her. My cats had stainless bowls and I kept them what I though was VERY clean. HA! My Vet told me that I must change over to glass immediately after this ordeal… My poor old lady kitty ended up basically chinless (not permanently), the vet pulled off all of her rotted flesh and fur like it was no big deal! I almost passed out! ?? It seriously was the MOST DISGUSTING THING that I have ever seen and smelled in my life! I’m SO GLAD that there was nobody else at his office at the time, because it would have sent them packing in an instant! His assistants had to open the back door and the front door to the place to air it our as soon as he did this and people that walked by were gagging. My poor cat! I felt like the worst kitty parent EVER! My Vet said it’s pretty common to be missed in dark long haired cats, especially in those that are not very active or too social any longer. I know that if she had been the lap cat that she used to be, I would have caught it way sooner!

  9. My lab mix (possible boxer mix) has bumps that look exactly like picture #1. He is 4 & only has clean, steel dishes. He gets these bumps from time to time. They usually go away in a few days. They’re pretty big and ugly this time. Pretty gross, but don’t seem to bother him.

  10. My chiwawaw terrier has a bump on her head not sure what it is been there for a few days now anyone have any advice

  11. My pitbull is 4 months old first he lost his hairs in patches since 1 month none of the vets is able to rule out and treat the problem and now i have discovred that he is developing pimples near his neck ears and groins almost over his whole body i am really confused whats happening despite of so many medications

  12. Could any of these bumps be a cause of worms? My wife and myself have a red heeler and a pit they are both boys one is about 3- 4 months old and one is closer to 6 months old the red heeler was doing great eating very well and everything and then last night he started acting very different, not his normal self. Would barely come to me and my wife, he just wants to lay down all the time he won’t eat, he’s very thirsty. And he’s walking to corners and just looking at the wall.

  13. hello i have a nine months old american bull terrier he started having pimples when he was about 4 months and they are still occuring and he is also showing a significant hairloss especially in the area where the pimple occurred i am not able to rule out the reason for it and help my puppy to recover from it .. there is no sign of itching or irritation kindly help

  14. my dog had a regular pimple. but then today i looked at it and the whole area was red and the pimple itself was bleeding.

  15. My pup is 3 years old. He is half Pomeranian half Chihuahua. He has never had anything like this. He has 2 raised areas on his muzzle and I put on a rubber glove grabbed a tissue and lightly squeezed them and a white core came out. Reminded me of my own struggle with adult acne. Everything I have read states puppy pimples happen before puberty. Then how is it my 3 year old dog has pimples?????

  16. I have a female pit I noticed on her left side of face there’s a small hard pimple it’s tender to touch and hard something green sticking half way out of the bump I want to scrape it off but don’t know if it’s the right thing to do

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