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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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The area around my dogs mouth is red and irritated on one ...

Customer Question

The area around my dogs mouth is red and irritated on one side, she even has bumps like look like pimples. What could this be?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

Hi thereCustomer

Welcome to Just Answer! I would like to help you and your dog with this question, but need a bit more information, please in order to better assist you both.

When did you first notice this problem?

What breed of dog?

How old is the dog?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
It seems to come and go. I noticed it today after she ate. She is a toy poodle and is 7 years old. I have noticed it before but it seems to go away.. but it looks red and irritated and if there is something I can do to help her I want too.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

Hi again,

How short is she clipped?

Does the hair around her mouth stay wet?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Her hair is cut short, but it hasnt been cut in over a month. She does lick a paws a lot but I do not think her face is wet a lot. SHe is near me most of the time and it isnt wet.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

What colour of poodle is she?

Is it the hair that is discoloured or is it the skin, too?

Where around her mouth is this happening? Is it at the corners of her mouth, or on her chin?

Does she chew between her toes?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
she is black. Her hair is not discolored but her skin is... its red and raised, looks like pimples.. she does chew between her toes. Could this be allergies?
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

It could be... that is one of the things that I am thinking...

Is this on her chin or at the corners of her mouth? Where is it exactly?

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
the bumps are on her chin but on the same side her skin is red up to her jawline.. she doesnt seem to be irritated by it at all.. she is looking at me like i am insane..
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

LOL - I am familiar with that look from my cats and dogs (and kids, come to think of it...)!

Ah... I think I know what might be going on.

Is she red and wet between the toes?

Can you look at the hairless areas on her belly and underarms - any little pimples there?

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
No pimples anywhere else.. but she is red between the toes. Not wet and not pleased to have me poking around down there..
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

Oh dear - not the "you are clearly insane" look again? ;-)

I am going to go work on your answer and will be back shortly...


Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 9 years ago.

Hi againCustomer

What you are describing with the little red pimples on your Poodle's chin sounds like chin acne. This is caused by a bacterial infection. The little red bumps are filled with pus and bacteria - just like human acne.

The big question is WHY does she have them, and what can you do to get rid of them?

There are a number of underlying things that can cause this chin acne. It is fairly common in Poodles because of their sensitive skin and sometimes underlying allergies. We also see a lot of dental problems in this breed, which means they can have a lot of bacteria in the mouth, which then can make this more likely.

The things that I would check for if your poodle came to see me are:

1. Her dental health. If your girl has a lot of tartar and calculus on her teeth and has developed gingivitis (inflamed gums) as a result, it may be that this number of bacteria in her mouth is leading to her chin acne. Treating the chin acne without addressing the dental issues would be a losing battle in this case.

2. Demodex (a common mange mite) by doing a skin scraping. Here's information about this mite:

It is treatable with either an ointment applied to the area, or with Ivermectin (found in Heargard).

3. Yeast infection (malassezia) - common in areas of damp, warm skin like the chin (it may get wet every time she has a drink). Treatable with topical anti-fungal wipes or pills.

4. Ringworm Treatable with topical medication, medicated shampoo or pills.

Any of these 3 things could be a contributing, underlying cause of what is now also a bacterial infection. All of these things respond well to medication. Of course, it is a different medication for each one, which is why testing is needed.

If it is fairly mild, it may respond well to just topical treatment for the bacterial infection. I would suggest that you try:

1. Pyoben shampoo on the area twice daily ( ) for a week.

2. Topical antibiotics - I usually prescribe something called mupiricin ointment, which is by prescription only. Also called Bactroban.

3. Wash the area 3 times daily with an antibacterial soap. I recommend Hibitane soap (also called chlorhexidene soap). In Canada and the USA it is available in pharmacies in the skin care of first aid section and is called Hibitane. Ask the pharmacist. Mix the soap 1 tablespoon per cup of warm water. Scrub the affected area, and hold a hot compress on there for 5 minutes if your dog let you. Do this 3 times daily for 3 days, then twice daily for the rest of the week. Rinse well with plain water. Pat dry.

Sometimes, mild chin acne can progress to something called "deep folliculitis and furunculosis of the chin". This needs more aggressive treatment. It needs oral antibiotics (likely for 4-6 weeks) as well as treatment for the underlying issue (Demodex, malassezia, ringworm, as discussed above) if one is found. In rare cases that don't respond to treatment, culture and biopsy may be needed.

Here are some links to deep folliculitis and furunculosis:

Also, you mentioned that your Poodle has been chewing between her toes and that it is red there. This sounds like Interdigital dermatitis (pododermatitis) - This is an inflammation of the skin between the toes on the top of the foot and between the pads on the bottom of the foot. It can be caused by an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria or both.

There are commonly yeast and bacteria living in small numbers on the skin surface. When a dog starts licking or chewing at one spot, she opens up little scratches in the skin surface, and the yeast and bacteria invade there. The fur stays wet, which keeps the area moist and warm - just the kind of place that bacteria like to grow! As the bacterial numbers increase, the scratches get infected and ITCHY! The dog chews more... and soon a larger area of red, raw, weeping infection can occur.

Now as to WHY a dog gets this - it can be because of underlying allergies, but in that case, all 4 feet are usually affected.

Here is more about interdigital dermatitis:

You can help her feet to feel better by doing washes of them with the Hibitane soap as described above for her chin.

If she is not improving, you will need to see your vet to find out what the underlying problem may be, and perhaps to get some antibiotics for her to take.

I hope that this has been helpful. If it has, please hit the green "Accept" button and leave feedback. I will still be here to provide more information if you need it. And please let me know how your dog does!