Your dog is itchy and uncomfortable. This is often a sign of more than one issue. This includes infection or pyoderma. Allergies may be present. Is the infection deep in the skin or just on the surface? Is it moist or dry? Keep in mind that some of this may be hard for you to see. Let's face it; the hair can get in the way!
All of these things are taken into consideration by our doctors when they design a treatment program to help your pooch back to comfort. The following information will help you to understand what is going on with your dog or puppy:
What is pyoderma?
Pyoderma is defined as a bacterial skin infection. It comes from the Greek words pyo meaning "pus" and derma meaning "skin". Pyoderma may also be referred to as impetigo, especially in young puppies.
What are the clinical signs of pyoderma?
The most common clinical signs associated with pyoderma are papules or pustules that form on the skin. These lesions often look similar to "pimples" in humans. They are most often red and raised, with a white pus-filled center. Other signs include circular crusts, dry, flaky patches of skin, hair loss, and itching. In short-haired breeds, the coat may appear to protrude or "stick up" in areas, mimicking hives, or it may appear moth-eaten because of patchy hair loss.
How did my dog get pyoderma?
Bacterial skin infection occurs when the skin's surface has been broken, the skin has become injured due to chronic exposure to moisture, the normal skin bacteria have been altered or changed, the blood flow to the skin has become impaired or the immune system has been suppressed. Pyoderma is often secondary to allergic dermatitis and develops in the abrasions on the skin's surface that occur as a result of scratching. Puppies often develop "puppy pyoderma" in thinly haired areas such as the groin and underarms. Fleas, ticks, yeast or fungal skin infections, thyroid disease or hormonal imbalances, heredity and many medications may increase the risk of your pet developing pyoderma.
How is pyoderma diagnosed?
A diagnosis of pyoderma is often based on your pet's clinical signs and medical history. Additional tests such as blood tests to determine if your pet has an endocrine disease such as hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease), skin culture and antibiotic sensitivity tests and fungal cultures may be performed. In cases associated with allergic dermatitis, tests may be performed to determine your dog's specific allergies.
How is pyoderma treated?
The typical treatment for pyoderma is antibiotic therapy for a minimum of two to six weeks. In chronic or recurrent cases, it is important to perform a skin culture and antibiotic sensitivity test to ensure that the proper antibiotic is used. Topical treatment includes sprays and medicated shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine. Additionally, it is important that your pet have clean, dry, padded bedding.
What is the prognosis for my pet's condition?
Most cases of pyoderma resolve with oral antibiotics and/or topical therapy. Chronic or recurrent cases may require additional testing to determine if there is an underlying condition contributing to the bacterial skin infection. Routine bathing with medicated shampoos can minimize recurrences. Overall, the prognosis for uncomplicated pyoderma in the majority of cases is good to excellent.
The key to dealing with infections on the skin is to understand any underlying conditions as well as the appropriate choice of medication and duration of treatment. Living in Orange County our doctors have dealt with these issues for decades. We won't rest until your dog's skin is healthy and comfortable. One of the things we all treasure the most is hugging and holding our dogs. Healthy skin makes this a treasure to your dog as well. Give us a call.
Our mission at Newport Harbor Animal Hospital is: "To provide the highest quality veterinary care for our patients and the best service for our clients. Our goal in every case is a healthy pet and a happy client."