How to Control Lip Fold Dermatitis in Dogs

My dog’s mouth stinks.

I get at least one email a week, if not more, asking me what a dog mom or dog dad can do to help alleviate their dog’s smelly mouth. If you are diligently providing at-home dental care for your dog on a regular basis, seeing the veterinarian for regular oral checkups and examinations, and the smell still exists, it may not be a dental issue at all. Lip fold dermatitis can rear its ugly head—and smell—and it must be brought under control. Here’s the scoop:

Lip fold dermatitis is probably a diagnosis your dog has received or you landed on this page because you want to know why your dog’s mouth stinks. When my sweet Cocker Spaniel developed what appeared to be a smelly mouth that would not go away despite twice daily brushing, off to the vet we went. The vet later told me that he knew what Dexter’s diagnosis was the moment we entered the exam room. Lip fold dermatitis has a very distinct stink. It will quite literally knock you over.

dog dental care

Dogs with saggy or thick lips and/or droopy jowls are prime candidates for lip fold dermatitis. That small area where the lip ever so gently “folds” and pockets of saliva can pool inside can harbor bacteria, and eventually produce a very offensive odor. In addition to the lips, a fold dermatitis may affect other parts of a dog’s body, wherever sagging skin causes skin folds to occur. So think of a Shar Pei with all those thick wrinkles. Clumber Spaniels, Basset Hounds, and any dog with thick jowls probably have a pet parent who will relate to the smell the jowls can produce.

lip fold dermatitis

What to Use on Lip Fold Dermatitis

The key is prevention in lip fold dermatitis. To keep it at bay and to keep the jowls clean and free of bacteria, we use EvoraPet sprinkled on his food once a day and wipe with Mal-A-Ket pads weekly.

In the warmer months when my dog pants and drools a bit more, we are extra diligent. Any time you have a dog with folds in the lip or even on the ski, the propensity for bacteria to form in that nice, dark, warm place is high. Bacteria and yeast thrive in such an environment; consider the dark and hairy ear canal: Yeast and bacteria often cause ear infections.

We cannot guarantee the same results on your dog’s lip fold dermatitis, but we recently discovered a product that has been very helpful, organic in nature, and easy to apply. The key is in making sure you apply the product to the exact area of the lip fold: Not to the mouth, not in the mouth, but in the fold, as shown here:

dog jowl

Our vet many years ago prescribed:

Pyoben antifungal shampoo: One droplet to be massaged into the area, cleaned out and then followed up with….

Pyoben ointment

The success for us has been with the Mal-A-Ket pads and now with the newly released Wrinkle Balm by the folks at Natural Pet Company. We received a free sample in the mail because we inquired about it for our dog’s smelly lip fold prevention.

Lip fold dermatitis in dogs

The organic Wrinkle Balm is an all-natural balm specially formulated to treat and prevent skin fold disease, infection, pyoderma, and discomfort. It contains gentle, yet powerful, extracts with anti-fungal properties to eradicate yeast, bacteria and crusty buildup. I use it on Dexter once or twice a week.

I have nothing to gain by telling you this, no one paid me, and because this is an issue with a lot of dogs, helping to eradicate lip fold dermatitis is key for us. Have your dog’s veterinarian show you how to keep the folds clean and exactly where they are located. On a side note, I’ve been using the Snout product from Natural Dog Company with great success over the winter months. It kept my dog’s flaky nose post respiratory infection nice and smooth and healed it up.

Dog lip fold surgery

What If Nothing Helps

Sometimes, in extreme cases, lip fold surgery is performed. Our friend at has a wonderful blog post about dog lip fold surgery. Please take the time to read that.

Click This: Joy of My GBGVLife has her take and latest update on lip fold dermatitis. Be sure to read it for a full picture of this stinky condition in dogs.

Dexter and Bailey

How to Prevent Lip Fold Dermatitis

Prevent this nasty condition by keeping your dog’s lip folds clean and dry. Gently wipe the lip folds/jowls and be sure to brush your dog’s teeth. Keeping the mouth clean is essential. Never scold your dog and don’t clean the mouth right before he or she eats. Also make it a very happy experience and start slow. If you’ve never cleaned your dog’s mouth or lips before, you need to make it an easy process. Do not yell at the dog. Take your time.

You know that area where the upper canine tooth sits on the lower lip of the dog? Think of all the saliva, germs, and bacteria that can harbor in that small and seemingly innocuous area. Keep it clean.

A local irritation from something as simple as the material of the dog’s food/water bowl can cause lip fold issues. The same thing happens to people when we have a reaction or allergic issue.

Any sort of friction or moisture can also flare up lip fold dermatitis.

We shave the hair in the area of my dog’s lip folds; in fact, we have a professional groomer do this every 5 to 6 weeks and I am learning to do it, too. Keeping the area clean, dry, and free of bacteria is helping us greatly.

Check out Fidose of Reality’s blog and read the original article here.

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