Comedones, or blackheads, commonly called "Schnauzer bumps," are a condition found almost exclusively in miniature schnauzers. They are truly just blackheads and are not normally serious threats to the health, much less the life, of a dog. They can be treated in a variety of ways.
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While the majority of schnauzers will never develop comedones, the condition is almost entirely restricted to the breed. No reason is currently known for miniature schnauzers to develop blackheads along their spines--they just do. Because of the extreme association between the breed and condition, the comedones are believed to have a genetically inherited cause, but beyond that the condition is a bit of a mystery.
Comedones are really blackheads. Just as in humans, hair follicles are plugged with a combination of keratin, sebum and dead skin. So long as they remain merely blackheads, they present no threat. If they become infected, then, they can fester and abscess, just like a bad boil on your face. In that situation they can create more extensive problems, even to the extent of forming a deeply buried abscess well under the skin. In the most basic form, though, a comedone is a blackhead, is treated like a blackhead and is no more dangerous than a blackhead.
You are likeliest to find comedones one of two ways: either immediately after a close clipping at the groomer's or when stroking your dog's back when the little lumps of blackhead may be felt. In the first instance, it is unfortunately common to assume that the groomer has injured the dog and that any lumps and bumps are the result of careless or negligent handling. This isn't the case. The comedones are just blackheads, and your dog walked into the groomer's with them. You can just see and feel them better with the fur trimmed down to near skin levels.
When finding them by touch, people have been known to panic and assume they are dealing with tumours, cysts or injuries. Again, don't panic. It is just a skin condition.
Comedones can't be cured. They can be discouraged through diet and grooming care, in particular through the use of such shampoos as pine tar shampoos and benzoyl peroxide. Using alcohol swabs or witch hazel to regularly clean the sites of comedones and slowly dissolve the sebum plugs is also recommended.
If a comedone does become infected, the recommended treatment is to quickly get an antibiotic prescription from your vet. By moving sooner rather than later, you reduce the damage done by the infection and help reduce the chances of the infected site becoming the home base for a chronic infection.
Comedones have been weakly associated with allergic skin conditions in miniature schnauzers. Such problems as flea allergy and skin rashes seem to be connected at some level with the development of comedones. The connection is not yet clear, however, and the treatments don't change except to the degree that if your pet does have an allergy or skin condition it is recommended that you resolve that as quickly as possible also. In particular, pets with flea allergies need to be helped by imposing extremely strong flea-deterrent strategies.
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