Bacterial Skin Problems

Thanks to their wrinkly skin, pugs are prone to bacterial skin diseases. These usually develop in response to other skin conditions that cause the dog to scratch, chew, bite, or lick at his body. Bacteria settle in the abraded area, worsening the original problem. Bacterial skin diseases your pug can develop include hot spots and pyodermas.

Hot Spots

Also known as acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, hot spots are warm, moist, sometimes oozy areas of redness and hair loss, usually occurring along the lower back or the inside of the thighs. Painful and bad-smelling, they develop where the skin has been broken from scratching or biting, allowing bacteria to proliferate. Hot spots are frequently seen in pugs that have fleas or other itch-causing external parasites, especially during hot, humid weather. They're treated by cleaning the area and giving topical or oral antibacterial drugs to fight the inflammation. Instituting a good flea-control program is the best way to keep hot spots at bay.


Like hot spots, pyodermas are secondary to other skin diseases. They're bacterial skin infections that develop in response to the trauma caused by scratching and biting. Types of pyoderma that might affect pugs are acne, folliculitis, and skin fold pyoderma.

Teenage pug pups from three to twelve months of age can also develop blackheads or pimples on the chin, lower lip, or sometimes the genital area. This mild surface skin infection usually occurs when hair follicles are blocked by skin scales and sebum. Medicated shampoos can help clear up mild cases, but deep-seated cases of acne may also require a course of oral antibiotics effective against staphylococcus bacteria. Acne usually disappears as the dog matures.

Sometimes referred to as superficial pyoderma, folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles. It's said to be the second most common skin disease in dogs. It often develops as a complication of scabies, demodectic mange, hypothyroidism, or other skin problems. Vigorous grooming can also damage the hair follicles.

Dogs with folliculitis have small pimple-like bumps (pustules) with a hair shaft protruding through each bump. The infection can then spread deep into the skin, forming large pustules that rupture, disgorging pus and crusting over. Folliculitis is most common in the armpits, abdomen, and groin. A pug with folliculitis may have patchy hair loss, giving him a moth-eaten appearance. Mild cases of folliculitis can be treated with medicated shampoos, but deep folliculitis requires oral antibiotics as well, for a period of six to eight weeks.

When skin folds rub together, the skin can become damp and inflamed, ideal growing conditions for bacteria. Skin fold infections, or pyodermas, can occur in a pug's facial wrinkles, in the vulvas of obese female pugs, and in the folds of a pug's curly tail. The moist skin is irritated and inflamed and has an unpleasant smell. Skin fold pyodermas are treated with medicated shampoos. Topical steroids used for a brief period can help if itching is severe. Your veterinarian may recommend using a benzoyl peroxide gel to prevent recurring infections. In chronic cases, the most effective solution is surgery to eliminate skin folds.

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