In humans, wrinkles are a usually unwanted sign of aging and nothing more. However, in dogs, they are often the part that people love most about their pets. Those cute wrinkly faces give the dopiest looks and serve as a sympathetic face to come home to. There are some risks to adopting a dog that has those wrinkly folds of skin. As the skin folds over itself, it is prone to infection. Moisture gets caught in-between the folds and since the skin is so warm, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and thus infection.

wrinkly dog

What Dog Breeds are Prone to Wrinkle Infection?

While some dogs can have wrinkles and never get a wrinkle infection, some dog breeds are more prone to it than others. With the more prone breeds, even a small amount of moisture can cause big problems.

Dog breeds prone to wrinkle infections include:

  • Bulldogs  (English Bulldogs in particular, especially around their nose)
  • Pugs (Pugs are easy victims for a number of skin problems as well)
  • Mastiff (The English or Napoleon Mastiffs in particular)
  • Shar-Pei  (As they have wrinkles all over their body, infection can happen anywhere)
  • Bloodhound (Wrinkle infection can occur occasionally, though ear infections are more common)
  • Dogue de Bordeaux (This pooch from the Turner and Hooch fame gets frequent infections in the face area)

Even though the above are the most prone to it, even dogs with a few wrinkles should be checked from time to time, especially if they display the signs.

wrinkle infections in dogs

Signs of Infected Wrinkles

Sometimes infected wrinkles are easy to spot, other times not so much. Dog owners with wrinkly breeds should be diligent in checking their dogs for wrinkle infection. They should be checked daily to make sure that the infection is caught early before it becomes more severe.



Signs of infection include:

  • Physical Responses - The best sign of infection is how your dog behaves. The number one physical sign is that they will begin rubbing their faces everywhere. I have never met a dog that rubbed their faces or ears on things for no reason. Owners should check the area they are rubbing right away for other symptoms. As the infection progresses, your dog will seem anxious and may even start whining.

  • Redness - This was one of the earliest signs of infection. The area in between the folds will be red in color and as the infection gets worse, the red color will get darker and spread.

  • Swelling - This happens after the infection has gotten worse. Usually the dog will begin rubbing their faces on the ground and this will cause swelling and further irritation. Even if dog owners are lax in their wrinkle checking, swelling should always be addressed.

  • Odor - You'll probably get a few licks for your curiosity, but if your dog's face smells off, then there is probably an infection somewhere. This can be a difficult symptom when also having to sniff past doggy breath. The odor can be different each time, but the odor of infection is always cloying and most should be able to tell it apart from the dog's usual smell.

  • Discharge - Discharge is not always present, but can be either milky or clear in color. Wrinkly dogs can even get yeast infections in their folds that produce white clumps.

Prevention of Wrinkle Infections

Dog owners who get wrinkly breeds should be prepared to take on daily wrinkle infection prevention, especially if their dogs prove prone to infection.

Essentially, prevention of infection involves keeping the wrinkles clean and dry. Dog owners should set apart five minutes every day to wipe each and every fold in their skin with a clean, dry paper towel. If there is goop inside the wrinkles, get a wet paper towel and clean it out before drying thoroughly. For those short on time, the face wrinkles are the most important as well as their armpits and the notch under their tail.

For dogs that are particularly prone to infection, owners can use acne pads, the non-alcohol ones that have salicylic acid instead, to clean the wrinkles out before drying them. This will prevent bacteria from growing; however be careful getting it too close to their nose or mouth. The stuff taste horrible and smells strongly, dogs don't much like it. Some dogs breeds, like pugs, are also unfortunately prone to dry skin so salicylic acid or alcohol swabs should only be used if they are prone to infection. Otherwise it can cause dry, itchy wrinkles which will spawn other problems.

It may be annoying to have to do so daily, but it will save the dog a lot of annoying pain.

If the dog happens to get thoroughly soaked by rain or other activities, they will also need to be dried a little more than the usual dog. Owners will want to make extra sure that they towel between their wrinkles as the sun will not get there to dry them naturally.

Stridex Medicated Pads, Sensitive, 55 Count
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My go to salicylic acid dog cleaner. I have a pug with sensitive skin, the other Stridex strenghts irritated his skin, these seemed to work better.

Treating Wrinkle Infection

Naturally, if an infection has gotten too bad it is time to take your dog to the veterinarian who will provide antibiotics and lecture you on keeping the wrinkles dry. However, if caught early they can usually be treated at home.

Ironically, the first step is to get the wrinkle wet. Wipe it down with a wet washcloth, using a new section of the cloth each time to try and get as much bacteria out as you can. To further sterile it, use an alcohol pad to clean and dry the infection out.

Dry the infected wrinkle, and all others that may have gotten wet, and just put a little bit of Neosporin on it. Neosporin will aid the healing process, but too much will keep too much moisture in. I prefer using the Neosporin with pain reliever because the alcohol swabs kind of freak my dog out, as one would expect. Try to keep the dog from licking the infected area if it is in a spot where they can.

After three days if the infection has not improved or has gotten worse, it is time to go to the veterinarian. Essentially, if the infection is oozing a discharge, swollen more than one of their wrinkles or your dog cringes away from being touched, then it has gotten too bad to be treated by home remedies. Be sure to warn the veterinarian if your dog is sensitive to being touched there, dogs in pain tend to bite.