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canine health problems

How to treat lip fold pyoderma in dogs

Keep your pooch’s lip folds dermatitis-free with our guide to identification,  prevention, and treatment.

Updated October 26, 2020

Created By

Lauren Cocking,
Dog teeth being examined by the animal doctor

These gums are healthy. No lip fold pyoderma here.

The essentials

  • Lip fold pyoderma is common — It’s especially common in wrinkly, loose-skinned dog breeds like bulldogs and pugs.
  • It’s also easy to fix — You can help relieve and prevent lip fold pyoderma symptoms at home with balms and ointments. (Keep reading for our recommendations.)
  • Talk to your vet if your dog seems to be experiencing pain or discomfort — It’s always best to check in with a vet first before doing any at-home treatments.

How to treat lip fold pyoderma

👉 While you can (and should!) take steps to prevent lip fold pyoderma, it can recur throughout your dog’s life. But don’t worry — this is normal and treatable! 

Try out some vet-indicated treatments — Sometimes cleaning and soothing alone won’t solve stubborn skin fold dermatitis in your four-legged friend. This is when you should make an appointment with your vet. They may recommend treatments like antibiotics, topical chlorhexidine treatments, medicated shampoos, or steroids in very rare/extreme cases.

Skin removal is a last resort — In severe cases (especially for dog breeds with very wrinkley features) surgery may be recommended as a way to keep lip fold pyoderma at bay. However, vigilance, preventative measures, and vet-prescribed remedies should typically do the trick long before surgery becomes an option.

Apply soothing balms at home to calm the symptoms — If your furry friend has lip fold pyoderma already, ease the symptoms and speed their recovery with soothing balms. Some of our favorites are Wrinkle Balm and Skin Soother, thanks to their all-natural ingredients and anti-inflammatory properties.

The best at home balms for lip fold pyoderma

Wrinkle Balm is a simple way to soothe your pup’s lip and skin fold pyoderma at home. The gentle scent-free formula has all-natural, anti-inflammatory ingredients

Ingredients — Wrinkle Balm
Avocado Oil, Rosemary Extract, Olive Leaf Extract, Niaouli, Natural Vitamin E, Hempseed Oil, Stearic Acid, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, Calendula, Candelilla Wax, Coconut Oil

Bodi Dog Certified Organic Paw Balm is a natural, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic formula idea for soothing irritated lip folds. Perfect for sensitive, scabbed, scaly, or rough skin, the alcohol-free formula uses only certified organic, plant-based ingredients sans harsh chemicals or parabens so it’s safe for your dog.

Ingredients — Organic Paw Balm
Shea butter, Jojoba oil, Beeswax, Hemp seed oil, Calendula extract

Skin Soother is an all-natural balm that can calm the redness and associated irritation caused by lip fold pyoderma. With anti-bacterial and anti-fungal ingredients, Skin Soother is an all-round doggy rescue balm that will soothe irritating dermatitis which can also be used on scars, dry spots, and more!

Ingredients — Skin Soother
Lavender, Chamomile, Frankincense, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Myrrh, Cocoa Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Safflower Oil, Candelilla Wax, Vetiver, Niaouli, Benzoin, Vitamin E

How to apply balm

  1. Distract your dog with treats and toys
  2. Clean and dry the affected area (only use vet-approved cleansers or water — rubbing alcohol isn’t safe for your four-legged friend!)
  3. Apply the balm generously with a clean cloth or your fingers
  4. Keep your dog occupied while the balm dries
  5. Reward with more treats and toys

Remember: Consistency is key — apply 1 to 3 times a day

👉 Make sure you keep your dog occupied while the balms dry!

How to prevent lip fold pyoderma

While lip fold pyoderma may reoccur, there are some ways to prevent your pup from developing stinky wrinkles.

Keep the affected areas clean and dry — Prevention is always a good idea. Keeping your dog’s lip folds clean and dry on the daily is the best way to prevent pyoderma from developing. After they’ve eaten, use a clean, dry cloth to gently wipe the wrinkly skin around your dog’s mouth twice a day. Does your dog have an especially fluffy face? Keep that fur trimmed too!

Clean food and water bowls daily — You need to keep your pooch’s bowls as clean as their face to help stop them from getting lip fold dermatitis. Wiping their dishes clean every day with specialized, pet-friendly anti-bacterial wipes is a good place to start.

lip fold pyoderma

This English Bulldog has a moderate case of lip fold pyoderma.

What is lip fold pyoderma?

Lip fold pyoderma is an irritating bacterial skin infection that can cause lesions and make your pup’s sensitive mouth folds red and inflamed. Perhaps you’ve heard it called skin fold dermatitis or even just ‘stinky lip syndrome’, thanks to its tell-tale foul odor? If your pup has a lot of loose skin, they can also develop skin fold dermatitis on their facial folds, tail fold, vulvar fold, and armpits.

There’s no need to panic if you notice these symptoms in your dog though. Lip fold pyoderma is a common, non-contagious, and treatable skin disease. And, there are some at-home remedies that can help.

Common symptoms of lip fold dermatitis

While it’s always best to have your vet confirm a lip fold dermatitis diagnosis, watch out for these symptoms of skin fold pyoderma:

  • Foul smell coming from the lip fold or skin wrinkles
  • Redness or irritation/ inflammation in the affected area
  • Yellow or white discharge
  • Discoloration of the area

What causes lip fold dermatitis?

  • Breed/genetics. Saggy skin, face wrinkles, and droopy lips can all lead to your dog developing lip fold pyoderma. There are several breeds which are more likely to develop this irritating condition (see below).
  • Weather changes. Excessive salivating, drinking, and panting when it’s warm and humid can contribute to seasonal skin fold pyoderma.
  • Medications. Although this is rare, lip fold pyoderma can occasionally develop in pups that are taking antibiotics due to changes in saliva chemistry.

Dog breeds more prone to lip fold pyoderma

  • Bloodhounds
  • St Bernards
  • Pekingese
  • English bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Shih tzus
  • Shar peis
  • Basset hounds
  • Cocker spaniels