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Dog Pyoderma: Prevention & Treatment

In this article:

What is dog pyoderma?

Dog pyoderma is simply a bacterial skin infection. Pyodermas are classed as superficial (where they don’t affect the deep layers of the skin) or deep.There are a number of different types of pyodema but the more common ones include dog hot spots or acute moist dermatitis, lip-fold pyoderma and skin fold pyoderma.

What causes dog pyoderma?

Dogs can get pyoderma from a range of causes including:

  • When the skin has become overly moist and hasn’t been able to dry out properly
  • When the skin has been broken due to excessive scratching due to parasites (eg fleas)
  • When the skin has been irritated from contact dermatitis or allergic reactions
  • There’s been a change to the normal bacteria on the skin surface
  • When a dog’s immune system has been compromised (perhaps due to illness) meaning they’re less able to fight off skin infections as they usually would
  • The blood flow to the skin has been restricted

Where do dogs get pyoderma?

Dogs commonly get pyoderma in skin folds, as moisture is often trapped here and cannot dry out enough, irritating the skin. Watch out for pyodermas in areas like:

  • Belly, arm pits and groin
  • Mouth and lip skin folds
  • Between skin folds on overweight dogs
  • Around the mammary glands on female dogs who have had several litters of pups
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    Symptoms of pyoderma in dogs

    Keep a lookout for these symptoms of pyoderma in dogs:

    • Pustules that are red and raised
    • Itching more than usual
    • Licking the irritated area
    • Scaling, redness or flaking skin
    • Hair loss or the coat standing on end (in breeds with short hair)
    • Bad smell and discharge from the irritated area
    • Reduced energy levels, loss of appetite and appear to be in pain

    Are some dog breeds prone to pyoderma?

    Certain breeds, particularly breeds with longer thicker hair coats or more skin folds are more predisposed to pyoderma:

    • Breeds with loose skin folds like Shar Peis
    • Breeds with deep wrinkles around the face like Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs and Pekingese
    • Breeds with deeper lip folds arounds the mouth like Spaniels
    • Breeds with longer thicker coats that hold water like Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers

    Pyoderma in puppies

    As puppies are still growing and developing a strong immune system, they can be more vulnerable to skin conditions. If you see any skin redness, hair loss or irritation that doesn’t heal quickly on its own, consult your vet. One of the more common pyodermas faced by very young puppies is impetigo (or juvenile pustular dermatitis) which will need treating promptly to avoid the infection spreading.

    Is pyoderma in dogs contagious?

    Pyoderma itself isn’t contagious, however the underlying cause of the pyoderma might be. For example, if your dog has fleas (which have caused the skin irritation and itching, leading to the pyoderma), they can be passed from pet to pet. This is why it’s vital to see your vet to have the cause of pyoderma diagnosed so the treatment can be effective.

    Prevention of dog pyoderma

    Prevention of dog pyoderma

    Practice good hygiene

    For dogs prone to pyodermas, it’s important to practice good hygiene, especially around skin folds. After bathing or swimming, ensure your furry companion is thoroughly dry around and between skin folds. Your vet may also recommend medicated wipes to reduce the bacteria around these areas.

    Clean and dry bedding

    Always make sure your best friend has a clean and dry place to rest and sleep, but this is even more important if they have pyodermas that are being treated. Aim to wash your dog’s bedding weekly to fortnightly, allowing it to thoroughly dry before letting your pet snuggle in again. Bedding may need to be washed more frequently if you have a young puppy still learning the ropes of toilet training or if you have an adventurous canine who loves to explore muddy puddles.

    Rule out allergies

    Allergies can be a cause of constant itching, which can lead to a broken skin barrier. If your dog shows signs of increased itching, licking or pawing at their ears and face after being exposed to certain plants or foods, your vet can work with you to determine what these allergies might be, and how to remove these items from your pet’s environment.

    Supplements to help strengthen the skin barrier

    For dogs prone to skin issues, a supplement may help maintain the skin barrier, the first line of defence against skin infection. ZamiPet Skin, Coat & Nails has been specially formulated to support the skin health of dogs prone to skin issues. It features a range of ingredients known to help protect and strengthen the skin barrier including Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric, Omega-6, Manuka Honey, Vitamin E and Biotin. It also contains inulin, a prebiotic that improves gut health which in turn can improve the immune response to skin conditions. ZamiPet Skin, Coat & Nails uses locally sourced salmon as the protein source, so it’s gentle on sensitive stomachs.

    Strengthen gut health with probiotics

    A probiotic for dogs may be beneficial to help prevent itching and scratching, which may lead to pyoderma if left untreated. Probiotics can help balance the friendly and unfriendly bacteria in the gut, allowing the immune system to work more effectively, helping to fight off minor skin irritations before they progress into something more serious.

    How is dog pyoderma diagnosed?

    If you suspect your dog is suffering from a pyoderma, the first place to go is your vet. They’ll conduct a physical exam of your pet, get a comprehensive medical history from you and if necessary, run blood tests & skin cultures to help determine the cause of the original irritation and the best treatment plan.

    Dog pyoderma treatment

    Once diagnosed by your vet, treatment for dog pyoderma includes clipping the hair from around the affected area to allow the area to dry out and be easily treated. The vet will likely get you to bath the area with a medicated shampoo before applying an antibacterial cream. A topical anti-inflammatory cream may also be prescribed. For more severe cases, a course of oral antibiotics and oral anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed.

    Home remedies for pyodermas should be avoided. This condition needs to be treated quickly and effectively, to avoid progressing into deep pyodermas which are dangerous for your dog’s health and very painful for them, too.

    Zamipet Supplement and Probiotic for Dogs

    The information in this article was checked by ZamiPet Veterinarian and General Manager Dr Andrew McKay, BVSc, University of Melbourne, 2000. Vet Registration No: V3985

    Disclaimer: This information is general advice only. Before starting any treatment or supplement with your pet, please consult your vet first for the best approach to getting your pet back to their best health.


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