Dog Lip Fold Dermatitis

Updated on September 19, 2013
Lip fold dermatitis is most common in certain breeds.
Lip fold dermatitis is most common in certain breeds. | Source

What's Dog Lip Fold Dermatitis?

You may have never heard about dog lip fold dermatitis or dog lip fold pyoderma, until your vet mentions it at your dog's physical exam. In some cases, dog owners aren't aware of this condition, but in some cases they suspect something is amiss from Rover's behavior. But what exactly is lip fold dermatitis in dogs and what causes it? Let's take a look.

First a bit f clarity. The terms dog lip fold dermatitis and dog lip fold pyoderma may be often used interchangeably, leading to much confusion. But what's the difference? Dermatitis is a simple term that means inflammation of the skin. The word "derma" means skin, and as a general rule, anything ending with "itis" is an inflammation. Indeed, when you get "colitis" it's an inflammation of the colon and when you get tonsillitis, it's an inflammation of your tonsils and so forth. Pyoderma means simply any purulent skin disease with formation of pus. It comes from the word pyo meaning "pus" and derma meaning "skin.''

As the name implies, this condition affects the dog's lip folds; therefore, it's mostly seen in dogs with pronounced saggy folds of skin such as Bloodhounds, St Bernards, Shar pei, Springer Spaniels, Neapolitan mastiffs and Bulldogs. However, it can also be found in other breeds, especially in the bottom jaw area where the upper canine tooth sits on the lip. Why does it occur? The most likely cause is the accumulation of saliva and food debris which causes bacteria and yeast to thrive due to the presence of moisture, and sometimes, the friction of the skin folds against one another may also be a contributing factor. It may all start as a local irritation that then progresses to inflammation and then to infection when left untreated.

What are the symptoms of lip fold dermatitis in dogs? You'll initially notice damp, red and irritated lip skin folds. At times, you may notice an unpleasant odor. As the condition progresses, there may be hair loss, presence of ulcers and scabs. The color of the surrounding fur may become discolored and turn reddish, brown or black from the saliva and proliferation of yeast or bacteria. You'll notice that some dogs may scratch at their lips and then smell/lick their foot and they may repeatedly smack their lips. Some dogs may appear clearly in pain.

How to Treat Lip Fold Dermatitis

When you see your vet, he'll likely examine the area, and he may also take a bacterial or fungal culture so he can figure out the most appropriate treatment. Depending on his findings, treatment may involve the use of a medicated antibacterial shampoo if there's no infection. If there's a fungal infection he may prescribe an ointment, and if there is a bacterial skin infection, the dog may need to be put on antibiotics. In severe cases, that tend to recur, the vet mat recommend surgery to correct the folding areas.

You can help your dog heal by cleaning the lip fold areas after your dog eats, so it's free of debris and dry. Shaving the hair in the area may also help keep the area dry. Just answer veterinarian Dr. Fiona, recommends washing the area with an antibacterial soap such as a chlorhexidine scrub, Hibitane or Hibiclens for at least 3 times a day for 3 days and then wash daily for an extra 4 days. She also mentions applying cornstarch to keep the area dry.

In the video below, veterinarian Greg Martinez recommends shaving the area, washing it with mild soap and warm water and then applying plain Neosporin on the area daily. However, some dogs may need a course of antibiotics to clear the infection up.

If you are into home remedies, Dr. Carol Jean Tillman recommends adding about 1/2 to 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar to the dog's food two times daily. Applying it topically (better diluted) may also help, but please consider that in some dogs it may sting.


Disclaimer: information in this article was attained from my research. In no way, should it replace professional veterinary advice. If your dog has a skin condition, please have him seen by your vet for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Alexadry© all rights reserved, do not copy.

Stained Fur on Lip From Saliva Moisture and Infection

Questions & Answers

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      • CraftytotheCore profile image

        CraftytotheCore 

        4 years ago

        This was very useful. I have a pitbull who has very wrinkled skin underneath his jaw. I will definitely know now to keep this in mind!

      • epbooks profile image

        Elizabeth Parker 

        4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

        Great to know. i do see my dogs scratching their chins every once in a while and make sure that nothing is infected. This is useful information. Voted up and shared!

      • MJennifer profile image

        Marcy J. Miller 

        4 years ago from Arizona

        As useful and excellent as I've come to expect from your hubs! Because I haven't seen this in any of my own pack, it was completely new information -- good to know for future reference. Great job!

        Best -- MJ

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