Understanding Folliculitis in Dogs

icon December 18, 2023

As devoted pet owners, we strive to ensure the well-being of our furry companions. One common dermatological concern that may affect dogs is folliculitis. Folliculitis, an inflammation of the hair follicles, can manifest in various forms, causing discomfort for our canine friends. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for folliculitis in dogs, providing pet owners with a better understanding of this skin condition.
Folliculitis in Dogs

What Is Folliculitis in Dogs?

Folliculitis is a skin condition characterized by the inflammation of hair follicles. Hair follicles are small structures in the skin from which hair grows. When these follicles become inflamed, it can result in a range of symptoms, from mild redness to more severe pustules and furuncles.

In dogs, folliculitis can occur in various breeds and may present differently based on the underlying cause. Understanding the factors contributing to folliculitis is crucial for effective management and treatment.

What Causes Folliculitis in Dogs?

Folliculitis in dogs can be attributed to various causes, and identifying the underlying factor is key to devising an appropriate treatment plan. Common causes of folliculitis in dogs include:

1. Bacterial Infections:

  • Description: Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus, can invade the hair follicles, leading to infection.
  • Symptoms: Pustules, redness, itching, and discomfort.

2. Fungal Infections:

  • Description: Fungi, including yeast, can contribute to folliculitis, especially in dogs with compromised immune systems.
  • Symptoms: Red, inflamed skin, sometimes with a greasy appearance.

3. Parasitic Infestations:

  • Description: Parasites, such as mites or fleas, can irritate the skin and hair follicles.
  • Symptoms: Itching, red bumps, and pustules, often concentrated in specific areas.

4. Allergies:

  • Description: Dogs can develop folliculitis as a result of allergies to certain foods, environmental factors, or contact with irritants.
  • Symptoms: Itchy skin, red bumps, and inflamed hair follicles.

5. Hormonal Imbalances:

  • Description: Changes in hormone levels, often related to puberty, pregnancy, or underlying endocrine disorders, can contribute to folliculitis.
  • Symptoms: Hair loss, redness, and pustules, especially in the genital or perianal areas.

6. Trauma or Friction:

  • Description: Excessive rubbing, scratching, or friction can damage hair follicles and lead to inflammation.
  • Symptoms: Red, irritated skin and the development of pustules in areas of frequent contact.

7. Immune System Disorders:

  • Description: Conditions that compromise the immune system, such as autoimmune diseases, can make dogs more susceptible to folliculitis.
  • Symptoms: Recurrent or persistent folliculitis with varying degrees of severity.

Understanding the specific cause of folliculitis in a dog is essential for targeted treatment and prevention of recurrence. Veterinarians may conduct various diagnostic tests to identify the underlying factor contributing to the condition.

Folliculitis in Dogs: Symptoms

Folliculitis in Dogs: Symptoms
Recognizing the symptoms of folliculitis is crucial for early intervention and effective management. The presentation of folliculitis in dogs can vary, but common symptoms include:

  • 1. Red Bumps:
    Folliculitis often manifests as red, inflamed bumps or pustules around hair follicles.
  • 2. Itching:
    Dogs with folliculitis may exhibit increased itching or scratching, indicating discomfort.
  • 3. Hair Loss:
    In areas affected by folliculitis, hair loss may occur, leaving bald patches on the skin.
  • 4. Pustules:
    Pus-filled pustules may be present, especially in bacterial or fungal folliculitis.
  • 5. Scabs or Crusts:
    The affected areas may develop scabs or crusts as a result of inflammation and skin damage.
  • 6. Changes in Skin Texture:
    The skin may appear rough, scaly, or have a greasy texture, depending on the underlying cause.
  • 7. Localized or Generalized Affection:
    Folliculitis can affect specific regions, such as the muzzle, back, or paws, or be more widespread across the body.
  • 8. Discomfort:
    Dogs with folliculitis may exhibit signs of discomfort, including restlessness or changes in behavior.

Pet owners should pay close attention to changes in their dog's skin and behavior. If symptoms persist or worsen, consulting with a veterinarian is essential for a thorough examination and accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosing Folliculitis in Dogs

Diagnosing folliculitis in dogs involves a combination of physical examinations, medical history analysis, and, in some cases, diagnostic tests. Veterinarians may employ the following approaches:

  • 1. Physical Examination:
    Veterinarians assess the dog's skin, noting the distribution, appearance, and severity of the lesions.

  • 2. Skin Scraping:
    Scraping the affected skin allows for examination under a microscope, aiding in the identification of mites, fungi, or bacteria.

  • 3. Cytology:
    A microscopic examination of skin cell samples helps identify the type of infection, whether bacterial, fungal, or parasitic.

  • 4. Fungal Culture:
    If a fungal infection is suspected, a culture may be conducted to identify the specific fungus involved.

  • 5. Blood Tests:
    Blood tests can help assess overall health and identify potential underlying issues, such as hormonal imbalances.

  • 6. Biopsy:
    In some cases, a skin biopsy may be performed to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of the folliculitis.

Accurate diagnosis is crucial for determining the appropriate course of treatment. Once the cause is identified, veterinarians can tailor a treatment plan to address the specific factors contributing to folliculitis in each case.

Folliculitis in Dogs: Treatment

The treatment of folliculitis in dogs varies based on the underlying cause, severity of symptoms, and the specific type of folliculitis. A comprehensive treatment plan may include:

1. Topical Therapy:

  • Description: Topical medications, such as medicated shampoos, sprays, or ointments, are applied directly to the affected areas.
  • Purpose: Topical therapy helps address localized symptoms and may contain antibacterial, antifungal, or anti-inflammatory agents.

    Antibacterial and antifungal spray:

    Puainta™ Antifungal Skin Spray (Nanotechnology❗)

2. Oral Medications:

  • Description: Oral antibiotics or antifungal medications may be prescribed for more severe cases or when the infection is widespread.
  • Purpose: Oral medications provide a systemic approach to treating bacterial or fungal infections.

3. Parasite Control:

  • Description: If parasitic infestations are identified, appropriate antiparasitic treatments, such as flea control products, may be recommended.
  • Purpose: Parasite control helps eliminate the source of irritation and prevents recurrence.

4. Hormonal Therapy:

  • Description: Hormonal imbalances contributing to folliculitis may be addressed with hormonal therapy or modifications.
  • Purpose: Restoring hormonal balance helps reduce symptoms and prevent further episodes.

5. Allergy Management:

  • Description: Identifying and managing allergies through dietary changes, environmental modifications, or allergy medications.
  • Purpose: Minimizing exposure to allergens helps alleviate symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

6. Immune System Support:

  • Description: Dogs with compromised immune systems may benefit from immune system support, such as nutritional supplements.
  • Purpose: Strengthening the immune response aids in the resolution of folliculitis and reduces the likelihood of recurrence.

7. Lifestyle Modifications:

  • Description: Making changes to the dog's living environment, grooming routine, or diet based on the identified cause.
  • Purpose: Lifestyle modifications address contributing factors and promote overall skin health.

8. Follow-Up Care:

  • Description: Regular veterinary check-ups and follow-up appointments to monitor progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed.
  • Purpose: Ongoing care ensures that the dog's condition is improving and helps prevent future issues.

Is Folliculitis in Dogs Contagious to Other Dogs?

Folliculitis in dogs is typically not contagious to other dogs. It is often caused by factors like bacteria, fungi, or allergies specific to the affected individual. However, if the underlying cause is infectious, such as certain mites, it may be contagious. Consult a veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and guidance.

What Happens If Folliculitis Goes Untreated?

If folliculitis in dogs goes untreated, it can lead to worsening skin irritation, discomfort, and the potential for secondary infections. Chronic inflammation may result in hair loss, scarring, and a diminished quality of life for the dog. Timely veterinary intervention is crucial to address the underlying cause and prevent complications.

Preventive Measures for Folliculitis

Preventing the recurrence of folliculitis in dogs involves implementing certain measures to address potential contributing factors:

1. Regular Grooming:
Regular grooming, including brushing and bathing, helps prevent the accumulation of dirt, bacteria, and irritants on the skin.

2. Parasite Prevention:
Consistent use of veterinarian-recommended flea and tick preventatives helps prevent parasitic infestations.

3. Balanced Diet:
Providing a nutritionally balanced diet supports overall skin health and immune function.

4. Environmental Allergen Management:
Identifying and minimizing exposure to potential allergens in the dog's environment, whether through dietary changes or lifestyle modifications.

5. Prompt Veterinary Care:
Seeking prompt veterinary attention for any signs of skin irritation, redness, or discomfort to address issues early.

6. Hygiene Practices:
Ensuring cleanliness in the dog's living space, including regular cleaning of bedding and grooming tools.

7. Regular Veterinary Check-ups:
Scheduling routine veterinary check-ups to monitor the dog's overall health and catch potential issues before they escalate.
Take the Fear Out of Pet Dermatology | Vet Advantage

By incorporating these preventive measures into a dog's routine care, pet owners can significantly reduce the risk of folliculitis and promote optimal skin health.



Folliculitis in dogs is a common dermatological condition that can manifest for various reasons, ranging from bacterial infections to hormonal imbalances. Recognizing the symptoms, obtaining an accurate diagnosis, and implementing a targeted treatment plan is essential for resolving folliculitis and ensuring the well-being of our canine companions.

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