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Folliculitis In Dogs

folliculitis in dogs


You might see your dog licking, scratching, or suffering from the itchies. While every living creature has an itch or two at times, some dogs suffer from what is known as folliculitis.

If your dog may be suffering from this condition, here is what to know. In this guide about folliculitis, We’ll take a look at what it is, what causes it, symptoms, and how it is treated.

What is Folliculitis in Dogs?

Considered a common type of skin condition in dogs, folliculitis is an inflammation that affects the hair follicles. It can be one hair follicle or in many cases, multiple hair follicles.

Typically, it is a bacterial infection but it’s not quite that simple. This bacteria is on every dog. In healthy dogs it is not a problem. But for those with compromised hair follicles, it become folliculitis.

This compromise may be from trauma, an underlying disease, or a specific skin disorder that the dog has.

What are the Symptoms?

There are varying degrees and types of symptoms. Some include:

  • Pain around the areas affected
  • Red swollen spots called papules
  • Draining tracts
  • Hyper-pigmentation
  • Superficial erosions
  • Skin collarettes

According to CannaPet, the symptoms vary depending on the dog’s hair length, breed, and severity of the problem…

Short-Haired Breeds: In the case of short-haired breeds, you may notice clumping of the hair on the surface of the coat.

Long-Haired Breeds: For long-haired breeds, symptoms of folliculitis may be more difficult to spot with the naked eye; you may notice signs such as scaly skin, a dull coat, or excessive shedding.

Mild Folliculitis: In instances of mild folliculitis, you will note small pustules with a hair shaft growing through the pimple; there are often rings or scales around the affected areas.

Severe Folliculitis: In the event of severe follicle infections, large boil-like pustules can be seen on the skin. You may also notice discharge, crusting, and accompanying signs of skin infection and irritation.

Breed-Specific Folliculitis: Certain breeds are more prone to folliculitis than others. For example, Miniature Schnauzers sometimes develop a form of the condition known as Schnauzer Comedo Syndrome, which is marked by blackhead formations on the length of the dog’s back.

How is Folliculitis Diagnosed?

Folliculitis should be diagnosed by a veterinarian. They can do so by the following means:

  • A skin biopsy or what is known as a histopathology
  • Scrape skin for mites (this is painless)
  • Bacteria culture
  • Skin cytology
  • Examination for ringworm
  • Fungal culture

Your vet will run the appropriate tests to determine the exact cause and then be able to create an effective form of treatment. This may be things like medication, topical treatment, or shampoos. Antibacterial treatments are available in forms like sprays, topicals, lotions, and gels. Shampoos will be antimicrobial and has to be used on a regular basis.

Holistic Alternatives

Nothing is better than visiting the vet to determine your dog’s needs. Yet, there are some holistic alternatives if you’re in a pinch.

  • Dietary supplements like probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids may help due to their anti-inflammatory properties and help with bad gut health.
  • Some herbs like nettle and chamomile helps soothe a dog’s irritated skin and nettles has anti-inflammatory properties too.
  • Topical options include things like coconut oil, aloe vera, tea, and witch hazel. Most have good properties for itchy skin. Whether it’s to sooth the skin, as an astringent, or an anti-bacterial – these won’t hurt your dog and may help sooth some of the itchiness.

How to Prevent Folliculitis in Dogs

According to Animal Wellness Magazine, prevention is pretty easy if you know the cause of the folliculitis.

Demodex mites and fungi are ubiquitous in the environment, but are usually only a problem if the immune system is not working properly. In these cases, you can help boost your dog’s natural defenses with a good diet, daily exercise and minimal stress.

As far as allergies, the allergens need to be known. Sometimes this is as simple as changing your dog’s diet or avoiding certain materials that your dog may be allergic to.

What Causes Folliculitis?

There are a few causes of folliculitis instead of just one reason. Here are the three most common factors:


Most people have heard of ringworms and humans can get it too. It’s important to know that ringworm isn’t an actual worm. Instead, it is instead a fungus. The only reason it has its confusing name is due to the marks it makes – ring-type patches on the skin. Its scientific name is dermatophytosis.

Bacterial Infection

The most common reason for folliculitis is a bacterial infection. Yet, the folliculitis is a secondary effect, not the causation. When a dog has a bacterial infection such as scabies or mange, a bacterial skin infection may set in. This bacteria is spread easily through things like fleas or mites.

Demodectic Mange

The mange is something most of us have heard about. If a dog has the mange, then it is more susceptible to folliculitis. This is usually in puppies since they cannot fight off mites. In adult dogs, it’s more rare. It can happen but it is usually because the adult dog had an underlying condition as well.

There are a few other causes of folliculitis. These include things like allergies, hormonal imbalances, immune deficiencies, hypersensitivity, skin injuries, and more.

If your dog is having issues with its skin, it is important to see a vet so the problems do not get worse. Vet bills can be expensive though, especially with needing tests ran, which is why it is important to have a backup plan like pet insurance. You don’t want your dog to suffer simply because you were unable to afford a trip to the doggy doctor.

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