Your dog's facial wrinkles give him character, but they're also a bacteria magnet. If your dog has a face full of folds, regular attention to them can prevent infections. Lip and other skin fold infections are often part of the package when you share your life with a wrinkly canine.
Also known as lip fold dermatitis or pyoderma, lip fold infections occur in dogs because of saliva and food particles collecting in the upper and lower lip wrinkles. The trapped moisture attracts bacteria, which thrive in the virtually closed environment of the lip fold. Soon, infection sets in.
Breeds most often affected with lip fold pyoderma are those with wrinkly faces. These include the bulldog, basset hound, bloodhound, Saint Bernard, Shar-pei, Pekingese, pug, boxer, Boston terrier and mastiffs. Although they're not particularly wrinkly, springer and cocker spaniels also are among commonly affected breeds. Because excess weight creates even more folds, overweight dogs are more prone to lip fold infections.
The skin around your dog's mouth might appear red and inflamed. Your dog might start rubbing or scratching the area constantly. His skin might smell funky or musty. If there's no obvious sign of inflammation but your dog seems uncomfortable, perhaps a bit grouchy, and rubs his mouth, pull back the skin folds. That's when you might spot the signs of infection, such as inflammation and lesions. Severely affected folds might contain pus.
Your vet might prescribe oral antibiotics to combat the infection. She'll recommend an antibacterial skin cleanser for you to use to clean the folds, which must be carefully dried after cleaning. If prolonged medical treatment doesn't work, your dog might require surgery to remove the folds. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Although lip fold infections often recur, daily preventive maintenance helps stop the cycle. Dissolve one tablespoon of salt in a pint of water, and bathe your dog's facial wrinkles every day. Pat the wrinkles dry carefully afterward with a clean cloth. Unless instructed by your vet, don't use antiseptic cleansers on your dog every day for prevention.
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