Help! My cat has acne!

You might be sitting on the couch one evening, absentmindedly scratching your kitty, when you look down and see black dirt or pimples on your dear kitty’s face!  The horror!


Don’t worry, dear cat lover.  Although it may appear that your cat has been afflicted with an adolescent embarrassment, it’s really nothing to worry about.  Here’s what you need to know about, and how to treat, feline acne.

What Feline Acne Looks Like


An example of feline acne

Feline acne can appear as what looks like “black dirt” along the chin, lower lip, or upper lip.  These are actually similar to the “black heads” that affect humans.  Feline acne can also look like pimples or inflamed bumps in the same area.

In more severe cases, feline acne can progress to painful cysts or ulcers.

What Causes Feline Acne


The majority of cases of feline acne can be attributed to eating out of plastic bowls or dishes.  These dishes harbor more bacteria and oils from food, which are then transferred to your cats skin, leading to clogged pores.

The more severe cases can usually be attributed to food sensitivity/allergy, skin mites or fungus, ringworm, and even certain other cat diseases.  Your veterinarian may need to run a few diagnostic tests to determine if your cat’s acne is caused by something more serious.


How to Treat Feline Acne

Metal Cat Dish


Since the most common cause of feline acne is eating from a plastic dish, the first thing you can do is switch out your cat’s dishes for ceramic or metal dishes.  Also, wash the dishes regularly to keep them free of food oils and bacteria.  These simple changes should allow your cat’s acne to resolve.

If your cat has a more severe case of acne, be sure to have your veterinarian check them out.  Sometimes further treatment, such as antibiotics and/or special cleansers, will be necessary to resolve your kitty’s issue.  In the case of food allergies, a diet change might be recommended.


Feline acne is certainly nothing to be worried about!  But if you have further questions or concerns about your cat, you can always contact Dr. D!


Q&A: Does my dog really need heartworm prevention in Colorado?

I get asked this question a lot.


Many folks in Colorado have been under the impression that heartworm disease isn’t anything to be worried about in our state, so their dogs don’t need to take monthly heartworm preventative medication.  While that may have been true many years ago, today the reality is very different.

Take a look at this map from 2013 – it should be apparent that heartworm disease is a problem in Colorado, whether you live in Broomfield, Denver, or the mountain towns.


Heartworm Incidence 2013



The theory behind this increase in heartworm disease is that heartworms traveled here from other states via infected dogs.  Remember Hurricane Katrina?  Remember all the homeless dogs who found new homes around the country?  Those dogs, lovingly adopted by local Coloradoans, brought heartworms with them.  And since our native dogs in Colorado have not historically been treated with heartworm preventative medication, they were at risk.  That’s just one example.

How does a dog get heartworms, you ask?

Well, simply put, heartworms are transferred from dog to dog via mosquitoes.  With Colorado’s unpredictable weather, mosquitoes can pop up pretty much any time of year.  That is why veterinarians recommend year-round heartworm prevention.

In fact, studies have found that most positive cases of heartworm disease in Colorado occur during February and August.  Dogs typically will not test positive for heartworms until six months after they are infected, so that means those positive dogs were infected in the winter AND the summer.

There are plenty of reasons to keep your Colorado dog on heartworm prevention.

If you’re still not convinced that your Broomfield/Westminster/Boulder pup should be on heartworm preventative meds, consider this:  If your dog contracts this disease, he will have to be treated with arsenic-type drugs to kill the worms before they do serious damage to your pet’s heart and lungs.  This treatment costs up to 15x more than a 12-month supply of heartworm prevention.

Keeping your pet on heartworm prevention is easy and inexpensive.  Testing your dog for heartworms is also easy and inexpensive, and should be done every 12 months, whether or not your dog is on preventative medication.

Here’s the bottom line:  the more folks in Colorado who protect their pets from heartworm disease by giving preventative meds, the less dogs will be infected and allowed to spread this nasty disease.  It’s a win-win!


Want more info?  Check out The American Heartworm Society’s webpage!

Does your dog need to get started on heartworm prevention?  Give Dr. D a call to set up an appointment!


This post was updated to show new data from 2013.

Leptospirosis: Is it in Broomfield?


Is Dora at risk for getting Leptospirosis living in Broomfield, CO?

Is Dora at risk for getting Leptospirosis living in Broomfield, CO?

The short answer?  Yes.

But you know I won’t let you get away with a short answer.  😉

Leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by a spiral shaped bacteria known as Leptospira.  In the past 5 years or so, the incidence of leptospirosis cases in the front range areas (Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, and surrounding areas) has increased significantly.  This is mainly due to population growth and development, as well as pet exposure to wildlife.

What you need to know about Lepto

  1. The bacteria is shed in the urine, and can be carried by any mammal.
  2. Your pet becomes infected by lepto through exposure to wildlife (raccoons, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, etc), contaminated water, food, or bedding, and mountain lakes or streams.  The incidence seems to be higher in new housing developments.
  3. This disease is zoonotic.  That means you and your family can also become infected with lepto.
  4. The disease initially causes flu-like symptoms, and can progress to kidney and/or liver failure.
  5. Lepto is treatable with antibiotics and IV fluids IF CAUGHT EARLY.

An ounce (or a milliliter, in this case) of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Leptospirosis can be prevented by having your dog vaccinated against the disease.  As with anything in life, the vaccination is not a 100% guarantee, but is recommended for all dogs who are at risk for exposure.

If you can answer YES to any of the following statements, Dr. D recommends that your canine friend be vaccinated for lepto:

  1. My family lives in a new housing development.
  2. My family lives in a suburban area that has high wildlife traffic.
  3. My family lives in an urban area where rodents are abundant.
  4. My dog is a farm dog or hunting dog.
  5. My dog goes camping/hiking in the mountains with the family.


If your dog needs to be vaccinated for lepto, call Small Things Veterinary House Calls to make an appointment!