Folliculitis in Dogs + How To Treat (including natural remedies)

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You may be worried since you noticed a spot on your dog and are suspecting that it’s canine folliculitis. Don’t worry, there are treatments available and the condition isn’t life-threatening but really does need to be diagnosed properly by a certified vet. 

white labrador retriever on table at the vet

Getting to the root of the problem is going to give the best outcome for your pup, so you can keep them comfortable and keep the skin issue from coming back. 

What is Canine Folliculitis?

Canine folliculitis is the inflammation of hair follicles. This condition is commonly discussed as bacterial folliculitis in veterinary medicine, which results from the infection of hair follicles with bacteria. It is considered the most common type of skin infection in dogs. It is common for people with acne or recently shaven armpit hair to develop folliculitis. Bacteria can easily enter inflamed hair follicles due to damage. 

However, since dogs can’t shave their armpits, it’s most likely due to a canine specific disease.

Causes of Folliculitis in dogs

Canine folliculitis is caused mainly by bacteria, but other causes include systemic diseases, bacteria, fungal infections, allergies, and parasites.

Bacterial Infection

Canine folliculitis occurs when healthy hair follicles are compromised, resulting in an overgrowth of bacteria usually present on the skin.

Fungal Infection

Blastomycosis is one of the most common fungal infections. It is a yeast-like fungal infection in male dogs. Blastomycosis lives in soil and decaying wood and thrives in wet environments like lakes, riverbanks, and swamps.


Pet dogs’ skin is particularly vulnerable to infections like folliculitis because of the trauma caused by fleas and ticks.

Systemic Diseases

Systemic disorders such as endocrine disorders (e.g., Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism in dogs) and immune system conditions can result in bacterial folliculitis.


Skin allergies result from the over-reactivity of a dog’s immune system to an allergen. Allergens can be anything from fleas to food to grass. Ensure to look out for signs of coughing, sneezing, itching, runny nose and eyes, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting if the allergic reaction produces folliculitis. Allergies are common in dogs, with no predisposition to a particular breed, body type, or age.

The majority of allergies may be managed at home by identifying and removing the allergen from their vicinity. If unidentifiable or unavoidable, your vet can also recommend monthly allergy shots or prescribe allergy medication depending on the reactions’ frequency and intensity.

Be sure to check out: Is Pineapple Safe for Dogs?

brown dog scratching their ear with their foot

Signs of Folliculitis

Folliculitis usually affects the areas where the hair or fur is thin like around the inner thighs or abdomen/stomach area. Even though these areas are in plain sight, it can still be a little hard to spot. 

Long-haired dogs tend to hide the signs of folliculitis more easily. On the other hand, short-haired dogs tend to present tufts of hair covering pustules or papules. Light-colored dogs display swollen red or brownish areas on their fur. 

Generally, dogs with this condition tend to show various signs depending on the cause and severity, which may include; 

  • Swollen raised areas on the skin 
  • Crusts or scabs
  • Weird smell from the bacteria
  • Excessive scratching
  • Pain when you touch the infected area
  • Hair loss
  • Pimple or blackheads
  • More pigmentation than in other areas

Take your dog to your vet when you notice any of these symptoms. Most of the time, the diagnosis is easy for veterinarians because of the clinical presentation. But they will usually perform a couple of tests to determine the cause (etiology)

How Folliculitis In Dogs Is Treated?

Your vet will help you tackle an appropriate treatment plan for your pooch once they have noticed the cause of his folliculitis. Here are some of the most common treatment options.

Fungal folliculitis — Treatment of fungal folliculitis may include medicated shampoos and topical medications. Fungal diseases, e.g., Blastomycosis, need systemic antifungal medication for a couple of months to do away with the body of fungal organisms.

Bacterial folliculitis (pyoderma) —your canine friend may require extensive treatment to eliminate deep-seated pyodermas. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat bacterial folliculitis. A long course of treatment may be necessary to eliminate the bacteria. Topical medications such as creams, ointments, antimicrobial shampoos, and sprays combined with antibiotics can eliminate bacterial infection.

Parasite-induced folliculitis— Canine folliculitis caused by external parasites can be treated by managing the infection resulting from chewing and biting insects. Tick and flea preventatives should be administered frequently to protect puppies from ticks and fleas. Mange mites can be destroyed with oral medications and shampoos.

Remember that many cases of folliculitis have underlying causes that must be treated to do away with your dog’s papules and pustules. Antibiotics are enough to treat mild folliculitis cases, but it is necessary to undergo additional treatment.

owner holding a husky hair ball from folliculitis

Are There Natural Remedies? 

The Animal Wellness Magazine suggests that there are some holistic approaches and vets may recommend them. Supplements like fish oil and probiotics have shown to aid in healing helping to reduce inflammation. 

Coconut oil, aloe vera, green or black tea, and witch hazel are also other alternatives that can be used for topical applications. 

However, these may not be permanent solutions, as you will still need to see the vet to get to the root of the problem.

How Can You Prevent Dog Folliculitis?

Most folliculitis causes cannot be prevented, but some can. For instance, you can avoid the disease caused by a flea allergy by keeping your canine friend on a flea-prevention medication

However, prevention is not possible if your dog’s folliculitis results from an underlying systemic disease, such as Cushing’s or hypothyroidism. Still, you can manage the condition to avoid infection of the follicles. 

Even though some causes of folliculitis are not severe and can resolve quickly, others take weeks of intensive antifungal or antibiotic therapy. Long-term management of your dog’s endocrine dysfunction is often mandatory to keep him from erupting in papules and pustules. Ensure that you maintain a strong relationship with your vet to ensure that your dog has healthy skin and fur.

owner putting a flea collar on a small dog

Common FAQs About Canine Folliculitis

Is folliculitis in dogs curable?

Canine folliculitis has many causes that must be treated to get rid of your dog’s papules and pustules. Canine folliculitis can be treated with simple antibiotics, but additional treatment is necessary.

How long does dog folliculitis last?

Treating bacterial folliculitis in dogs can take three to twelve weeks. Skin infections caused by bacteria can be difficult to treat because most antimicrobial drugs don’t reach the dog’s skin. They can use only the dog’s skin if offered in high doses for a long period.

Does dog hair grow back after folliculitis?

A dog’s infection begins to clear once correctly diagnosed and medications prescribed and started. The dog’s fur will start to grow once the skin is healthy. If the condition is not treated, your dog’s skin will be unhealthy, and their fur won’t grow back.

Are some dogs more prone to folliculitis?

Canine folliculitis can affect any pet. However, certain conditions predispose dogs to canine folliculitis, e.g., allergic skin disease is hereditary and more prone to particular breeds. Some of the common breeds include:

  • Boston Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Dalmatians
  • Golden and Labrador Retrievers
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Shih Tzus

It’s important to know that if you have a mixed breed dog including any of these ones above, they could be predisposed as well. 

Is dog folliculitis contagious to humans or other dogs?

Most of the time, no. However, if the underlying issue is the result of ringworms or scabies, then yes it is possible for humans to catch the disease. If the problem is coming from allergies, no it’s not contagious. But if it’s a fungal or bacterial issue it can be transmissible.

Final Thoughts 

If you may suspect that your pup is suffering from folliculitis in any form, make an appointment to see your local vet. This will help to identify the cause and put a proper treatment plan in place.

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