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12 Pictures of Folliculitis in Dogs: What It Looks Like & What to Do

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This article was updated on December 5th, 2022

Folliculitis, also known as superficial pyoderma, is a very common skin condition in dogs. In a typical week, my veterinary practice will see anywhere between five and 15 cases. Being able to recognize that your dog has folliculitis can be helpful in getting them needed treatment.

What folliculitis looks like in dogs [with pictures]

Folliculitis in dogs is most commonly the result of a bacterial infection of the hair follicles. The most common bacteria involved with this condition are staphylococcal bacteria.

Folliculitis can be primary or secondary. If the condition is primary, then the issue is simply an overgrowth of bacteria, and their skin is otherwise healthy. There is no underlying condition causing the folliculitis. An appropriately selected antibiotic, whether topical or oral, will clear up the folliculitis in these cases.

The other type of folliculitis, secondary, results due to an underlying issue that is compromising the skin. The most common issue is allergies. Though these dogs may also require oral or topical antibiotics, treatment will not be successful without addressing the underlying condition.

Picture 1: Patchy hair loss in a dog as a result of folliculitis:

Patchy hair loss in a dog as a result of folliculitis

Picture 2: More patchy hair loss as a result of the disease:

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patchy hair loss on a dog

Picture 3: Bulldog with allergic folliculitis

Bulldog with allergic folliculitis

Picture 4: Here is a more severe case of widespread folliculitis in a dog:

widespread folliculitis in a dog

Picture 5: Up close pic of folliculitis in a dog:

close-up picture of folliculitis in a dog

What are the visual characteristics of folliculitis?

You will find below pictures representing typical visual characteristics of folliculitis in dogs, including: pustules, papules, redness, swelling, hair loss, itching, licking, scratching, or dark areas/pigmentation.

1. Pustules

pustules as a symptom of folliculitis

2. Papules

papules as a symptom of folliculitis
Image Credit:

3. Redness

redness on dog belly as a result of folliculitis

4. Swelling

swelling on dog's skin as a result of folliculitis

5. Hair loss.

hair loss on a dog

6. Itching, licking or scratching.

dog scratching and itching leg, a symptom of folliculitis in dogs

7. Dark areas / pigmentation.

black spot on dog's belly

Is it folliculitis or is it something else?

Though folliculitis is quite common, the underlying reason for the dog to be affected varies widely. Allergies are the most common culprit. Fleas, mange parasites, fungal infections, as well as systemic diseases such as autoimmune disorders, endocrine issues, and trauma can all result in folliculitis.

1. Flea allergy dermatitis

Flea allergy dermatitis
dog skin after flea bites

2. Sarcoptic mange

sarcoptic mange

3. Demodectic mange

demodectic mange on a dog

4. Allergies

red skin allergy symptoms in dog

5. Irritation or trauma

trauma injury on a dog's paw

Steps you can take at home to help your dog now with folliculitis

Usually, folliculitis requires prescription medications, such as antibiotics, antiparasitics, and antifungals for treatment. Depending on the cause, these may be topical, systemic, or both. There are no effective home remedies for this condition, and an accurate diagnosis is essential for effective treatment.

After you make an appointment for your dog, you can try:

  • soothing their skin while waiting with a bath using oatmeal shampoo and cool water.
  • Keeping the dog indoors and cool may also help.
  • You should remove any collars, clothing, or harnesses to eliminate irritation from those items.
  • Scratching, licking, and biting the area should be gently discouraged. An Elizabethan collar may be needed.

When to call your veterinarian

If your dog’s skin is red, irritated, swollen, has pustules or papules, or is itchy, it is time to make an appointment with the veterinarian.

Veterinary treatment, costs & recovery

Treatment of folliculitis in dogs depends on the cause. Simple, primary folliculitis may just require some form of antibiotics, either topical or systemic. However, most cases of folliculitis in dogs result from an underlying issue. Both the folliculitis and the underlying condition must be addressed. The first step is an accurate diagnosis which your veterinarian will obtain via a thorough review of your dog’s history and environment, a complete physical exam, skin tests such as scrapings, tape preps, and biopsies, and other testing to determine underlying causes. Depending on the needed diagnostics and treatments, taking care of folliculitis in dogs will vary widely when it comes to cost.

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.

How to prevent folliculitis

The most critical step to preventing folliculitis in the future is to address the underlying cause. For many dogs, this cause is allergies. Just as in humans, allergies cannot be cured, but can be managed. Environmental and food triggers can be mitigated, and there is a myriad of allergy control medications. Other causes, such as endocrine disease, will need to be closely controlled as well, typically through medication.

Frequently asked questions

Is folliculitis contagious from dog to dog?

In most cases, no. However, some exceptions exist, including fungal disease, parasites such as fleas, and sarcoptic mange.

Is folliculitis in dogs contagious to humans?

Again, in most cases, no. However, some fungal agents, fleas, and sarcoptic mange are all zoonotic, meaning they can transfer between people and animals.

Can food allergies cause folliculitis in dogs?

Yes, a food allergy may result in folliculitis in dogs. You should speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of food allergy. The most common food allergens in dogs and beef and dairy.

How long does it take folliculitis to go away in dogs?

The length of treatment required to clear folliculitis in dogs will depend on the cause and the severity. Typically, once appropriate treatment is instituted and the underlying causes, if any, are controlled, the dog should feel better in a matter of days to weeks.

Is folliculitis more common in some dog breeds?

Folliculitis is more common in dogs that are prone to allergies. These include Chinese Shar-Peis, Wirehaired Fox Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Dalmatians, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Scottish Terriers, Shih Tzus, and West Highland White Terriers1. However, any dog may develop folliculitis.


  • Dr Whittenburg, Hospital Director

    Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is a Veterinarian Director at 'Senior Tail Waggers' and Director and Owner of Kingsgate Animal Hospital, a full-service animal hospital in Lubbock, TX. She graduated from Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and has over 17 years of experience working as a veterinarian & hospital director.

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