Dog Skin Conditions: Superficial Bacterial Folliculitis

The cause, symptoms, and treatment of canine superficial bacterial folliculitis.

Superficial bacterial folliculitis
Photo courtesy David A. Senter, DVM

Cause: Most commonly, Staphylococcus (“staph”) bacteria, usually secondary to other skin disorders such as allergies, demodicosis (mange), endocrine problems, trauma, foreign bodies, and many others.

Symptoms: Shorthaired dogs often have patchy hair loss, tufts of hair raised above the coat surface and/or reddish or brown “staining” of white hairs. Longhaired dogs may have more subtle symptoms, including scaly skin, dull coat, and excessive shedding. Regardless of coat type, clipping may be necessary to fully reveal the extent of the disorder. The underlying skin lesions include bumps, pimples, crusts, or scales occurring singly, in clusters, or over large areas; reddened circular hairless areas with or without darker pigmentation in the center; scaly or crusty skin may surround the individual lesions in a circular pattern (epidermal collarettes). The degree of itchiness varies from intense to non-existent.

Treatment: Oral antibiotics for three to four weeks or longer, depending on the response; antibacterial shampoos; antibacterial ointments or sprays. Because superficial bacterial folliculitis occurs secondary to other disorders, identification and concurrent treatment of the underlying cause are essential for successful resolution.

Disclaimer:’s Dog Skin Conditions are intended for educational purposes only. They are not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your dog’s ailment. If you notice changes in your dog’s health or behavior, please take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.


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Michelle   Hannacroix, New York

12/28/2013 12:51:39 PM

I am in need of some help for my dog. He is a three year old lab Sheppard mix. He has food allergies which I have under control but over the last 6 months he has started to pull his hair out around his rear legs, behind, back, and tail. I have taken him to the vet and have received no true solution. His skin looks similar to the photo above. What can I give my dog to relieve these symptoms.

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Jennifer   Seminole, Florida

5/2/2013 5:00:36 PM

I have a 16 week old Doberman Pinscher puppy that I have been bathing about once every 7-9 days. Is it normal for the Doberman breed to develop folliculitis from over bathing and grooming? Or could it be caused by puppy vaginitis?

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Julie   Port Charlotte, Florida

10/30/2012 3:05:44 PM

To Ann from Ft Worth-Great post, EXCEPT where you say No People Food. A truly natural canine diet consists of raw meat & bones, PERIOD. This is the single most bio-available diet for dogs, and if you don't believe me, try it yourself (please do proper research first!). The proof is in their poop. My 100 lb dog's poop is less than 1/3 smaller than it was when he was eating high-quality grain free kibble IE Blue Buffalo OR equally high quality, cooked canned foods such as Merritt or Natural Balance, AND it does not smell, nor attract flies; it turns white & crumbles within 48 hours.

Regardless of being raw fed for the past two & a half years, my wire-haired dachshund has developed folliculitis-most likely because he is hypothyroid. I will try treating your methods, as well as baking soda & Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, even though we just took him to the Dermatologist today, because now having a firm diagnosis, I much prefer using natural methods to the antibiotics & chemical shampoos given me by the vet.

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Ann   Ft. Worth, Texas

10/4/2012 8:25:50 PM

Most likely underlying culprit is allergies, such as a food allergy. Antihistamines won't cure it, because the underlying problem is still there. If you desire to treat naturally without drugs, you can use borax laundry soap (20 Mule Team brand) which is an antifungal, antibacterial and will NOT hurt your pet. Mix with water and spray it on or pour over pet in tub. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse off afterward. Also, tea tree oil shampoo is great, because tea tree oil is also a natural antifungal, antibacterial and stops any itching. Colloidal silver spray (found in health food stores) is a natural antibiotic that is wonderful to spray on the skin to heal and kill the bacteria. But you MUST heal from within too and eliminate the food allergy from the diet. No people food, no wheat products in their dog food. Buy organic and all natural if possible. No cheap stuff, it's loaded with junk that kills and makes our pets sick. You can give colloidal silver drops in water dish daily and black walnut to treat yeast, fungus, and bacterial issues. Takes a while to clear it up but it can be done, and without harming your pet with rounds of drugs that ultimately make them worse. Best of luck to everyone.

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