What is Folliculitis in Dogs?

by | 02/22/2023

The term folliculitis is in reference to hair follicle(s) inflammation. The most common folliculitis cause in dogs is a bacterial infection, so folliculitis typically refers to hair follicle inflammation that is caused by bacterial infection. But, there are additional causes of folliculitis in canines, which include parasitic infestations, hormonal disorders, and fungi infections.

Folliculitis causes in dogs

Folliculitis might result from systemic diseases (diseases that affect more than one system in the body) or skin diseases. As dogs suffer with a health condition which impairs immune system functions, the bacteria which normally are discovered on the skin will invade the hair follicle, and lead to inflammation and pain. Hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism might cause a reduction in the function of the immune system and, in turn, folliculitis development.

Allergic skin diseases, like flea allergies, are among the most typical folliculitis causes on dogs. Allergies are exaggerated or excessive immune response to specific infectious or environmental agents. In the instance of flea allergies, canines are sensitive to the saliva of fleas and they suffer serious itch. As pups scratch their skin they inadvertently produce tiny skin wounds which might become infected with bacteria. A few flea allergy cases might result in bacterial folliculitis.

A handful of the systemic conditions which might cause folliculitis in dogs include:

  • Cushing’s disease or Hyperadrenocorticism (increased steroid hormone level)
  • Hypothyroidism (reduced thyroid hormone levels)
  • Immune mediated disorders

Common skin conditions which might cause dog folliculitis include:

  • Fungal infection
  • External parasites
  • Callus dermatitis
  • Pyotraumatic folliculitis
  • Idiopathic furunculosis of German Shepherd dogs
  • Interdigital cysts
  • Skin fold pyoderma
  • Acral lick granuloma
  • Canine acne
  • Allergies

Indications of dog folliculitis

The majority of dogs who experience folliculitis will suffer intense swelling and itch. Depending upon the cause, some pups might exhibit other indications of disease. For instance, a hormonal disorder referred to as Cushing’s disease may lead to folliculitis and canines who experience the disease typically present an increased frequency of urination, increased water intake, and a potted belly appearance.

A list of the most common indications of dog folliculitis include:

  • Swelling
  • Superficial erosions
  • Skin crusting and scaling
  • Redness
  • Red swellings on the skin
  • Pimples
  • Pain that surrounds all affected areas
  • Itching
  • Hair loss
  • Draining tracts
  • Skin darkening


Dog folliculitis treatment varies depending upon the cause of the disease. As the most common kind of hair follicle infection is caused by bacteria, the treatment procedure for canine folliculitis oftentimes involves the administration of antimicrobial drugs.

In the majority of cases, the vet is going to prescribe a topical (skin application) antimicrobial that might be an antimicrobial shampoo, an injected or oral antimicrobial, and underlying disease treatment.

For instance, if the dog suffers from folliculitis because of an endocrine disorder, it’s vital that you address the hormonal imbalance, so you can prevent the folliculitis from returning again.

Bacterial skin infections may be challenging to treat because most antimicrobial drugs don’t reach the skin, and if they do, they must be offered at high dosages and for a lengthy duration of time. For that reason, treating bacterial folliculitis in dogs might extend from three to 12 weeks.

The instances of bacterial folliculitis that are secondary to flea allergies are going to require stringent flea control in addition to topical and systemic antimicrobial drugs.

The treatment’s effectiveness will greatly depend upon the accurate identification of the kind of bacteria which is causing the issue, as well as all underlying health conditions. It’s vital that you carefully follow the vet’s advice, so you can maximize the effectiveness of the treatment.

How to prevent folliculitis in dogs

The probability of preventing folliculitis in dogs greatly depends upon what’s causing the condition. Within the instance of dogs that have deep wrinkles like Pugs and Shar Pei’s, keeping the folds of the skin dry and clean may prevent bacterial folliculitis development. Stringent flea prevention may prevent secondary folliculitis. In addition, the control of hormonal imbalances might prevent the development of skin diseases like folliculitis.

Is dog folliculitis contagious to human beings?

Many people wonder if folliculitis is contagious. The condition itself isn’t considered to be contagious; not between canines or to human beings. But, it’s possible for a few conditions that are causing it to be transmittable to additional pets and humans, too. Ringworm infestation and sarcoptic mange include some of the extremely contagious conditions. On the other hand, staphylococci are transmittable between humans and dogs.

How to prevent recurrence of folliculitis

In order to prevent recurrence, it’s crucial that you understand and treat the cause of dog folliculitis. As it’s been properly handled, the coat of your dog will go on to be free of irritation and healthy. You should speak with your vet whenever you are not sure about what you should do or make out of this situation.