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Health & Wellness

What is folliculitis in dogs?

Here’s why you’re noticing changes in your pet’s skin.

When a dog is diagnosed with an illness, a way to ensure their overall and future health is to learn about secondary conditions that may affect them, too. If your pup develops allergies, Cushing’s disease, thyroid disease or any other skin, hormonal or immune system disorder, you should be aware of a skin condition called folliculitis, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, explains. 

“Folliculitis is the inflammation of a dog’s hair follicles,” Dr. McCullough says. And while it’s usually a secondary condition because of an illness, it can also happen because of improper or excessive grooming or contaminated grooming products. 

Because folliculitis can happen for various reasons, we’re breaking down what you need to know about this condition and ways to help your best friend feel better.

What causes folliculitis in dogs? 

According to Dr. McCullough, folliculitis is typically caused by bacteria that access a dog’s hair follicles. It causes physical changes to a dog’s skin, too. Dr. McCullough says to look out for itchiness, skin redness, hair loss, scaly skin, pimples or blackheads. 

“Folliculitis can be found either in one area of the body, multiple areas or spread all over the body,” she explains. “For example, folliculitis due to allergies may be localized to the feet, face, ears and/or belly.”

There’s not a dog breed, age or gender that’s more likely to develop folliculitis than others — and the condition isn’t contagious to other animals or people, she adds.

If you notice these signs in your pup, reach out to your veterinarian. Folliculitis is typically diagnosed through a thorough physical and skin examination, bacterial cultures to detect bacteria, fungal and mite tests or bloodwork, Dr. McCullough says. 

RELATED: What to know if your dog has skin tags

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Pyoderma folliculitis in dogs

Folliculitis is actually a type of pyoderma, which is the infection and inflammation of the skin. Folliculitis is the infection and inflammation of the hair follicles, which are a part of the skin. 

Treatment options for dogs with folliculitis

Talk to your veterinarian about the right solution for your dog. They may recommend oral antibiotics or topical antiseptic therapies, like shampoos, rinses or sprays. She adds that it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about treating the initial condition that spurred the folliculitis. (Never treat your dog without your vet’s guidance!)

Apple cider vinegar for folliculitis in dogs

Don’t test out any home folliculitis remedies on your pup without consulting your veterinarian first. If you were considering using apple cider vinegar as a treatment, think again. Dr. McCullough says you should avoid using apple cider vinegar because it may cause your dog pain when it’s applied to their inflamed skin. 

How to avoid folliculitis in dogs

Unfortunately, Dr. McCullough says there aren’t many ways to prevent folliculitis. “Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for managing underlying medical conditions that may predispose your pet to develop folliculitis,” she recommends.  

Folliculitis is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition for pups. Talk to your veterinarian as soon as you spot hair loss, redness, scaly skin or acne-like bumps on your pet to help them feel better.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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