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Acne

Boxer Dog Acne

Q: My Boxer has acne under his chin and it makes me feel bad to see him scratch away at it. I am using the gel the Vet prescribed, will the acne scars heal? And will they be visible after they heal?

Overview

Acne is common in some dog breeds, the Boxer included. Many wonder what causes this and there are actually 2 elements at play. 

Pimples develop when short hairs are irritated. Though, hormonal imbalances are thought to be a mature contributing factor as well since most dogs develop this during puberty (5 months to 1 year is the age that this is most common) as the Boxer matures.  

While it tends to go away on its own in time, it should be treated since:

1) It can cause scars

2) Big pimples on a Boxer dog can actually sting quite a bit and also cause pretty intense itching

3) Without treatment, pimples can keep popping up until a Boxer reaches maturity (the 2 year old mark)

The combination of the pain and itching can cause a puppy or dog to scratch at the area or rub his face against a surface like carpeting… And this just causes more irritation and exasperates the problem.

There are steps that you can take to solve the problem and to help to prevent scarring.

Making Sure it is Acne

It is important that your vet perform the proper tests to ensure proper diagnoses, as this can be confused with a few other skin disorders. Other health issues can appear to be canine acne and should be ruled out.

- Demodicosis is a skin problem that can appear to be dog acne. This is a form a mange and a scrapping of the affected skin on your Boxer should be done.  The material scraped off should be examined under a microscope to rule out this possibility.

- Ringworm.  Ringworm is not actually worms. It is a fungus type skin infection.  Small hairs should be plucked out and a culture will be run to rule this out.

- Puppy Strangles. This is not common, but should be ruled out. This looks very similar to canine acne. Dogs with this have a poor appetite and weakness.  If your Boxer shows these symptoms and has not yet been checked for this, it is highly recommended.
Treatment for Dog Acne

If acne is indeed the correct diagnosis, your vet is on the mark.  A gel containing Benzoyl Peroxide is what is used.  An owner must take care to not use too much.  Dogs are very sensitive to this and using more than is prescribed will not help, but will do more harm.

A topical antibiotic should be given to prevent secondary infections.

If swelling is moderate to extreme, topical steroids should be applied to help with that issue.
In chronic cases of canine acne with Boxers, (cases in which the acne will just not go away) long term low-dose antibiotics and sometimes steroids should be given, in pill form.

Once acne is under control, minor cases of chin acne on the Boxer can be treated with Douxo Chlorhexidine 3% PS, which comes in the form of pads, similar to what we humans use on our faces.  Many owners swear by this daily quick-wipe cleanser and we like it as well.  If you are not sure where to find this, you can look under "Grooming" in the Boxer Dog Specialty Shoppe

Scarring

This is a bit tricky, because the possibility of scarring will depend on how deep the acne is and how chronic it is.  Do be sure to  never "pop a pimple" as this will not only cause your Boxer a lot of pain but will open the area for infection.  

It is the secondary infections which would be the main cause that leads to any potential scarring. For this reason, either topical antibiotic solution or antibiotics medication in pill form for chronic cases should be given.

There has been some pleasing results with dog owners who use Calendula. This is a concentrate made from the Marigold flower. It has been shown to help with healing and scarring in many cases.  

You can find this at a health food store, vitamin store or in the Boxer Dog Specialty Shoppe mentioned above.  You would put 6-7 drops into 1 ounce  of warm water. Mix well.  Using a cotton ball, apply this 2 times per day.

While canine acne is not uncommon in the Boxer breed, it usually lessens and sometimes goes away completely as the dog grows and matures (just like people).  
Do please make sure that your vet checked for other possible causes and then do make sure that antibiotics are being given.  Lastly, using Calendula is very safe (when applied as stated above), it will most likely help with healing and should help with scarring.

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