Pyoderma in Dogs

Pyoderma is a term that actually refers to “pus in the skin.” It may result from cancer, infection, or inflammation, and is typically found in dogs.

Majority of pyoderma cases are due to bacterial infections. However, many of them are actually minor and superficial to numerous other conditions, for example parasites or allergies. Healthy animals can get pyoderma, though it tends to dissipate completely when appropriate antibiotics are administered. Sections of the skin that are warm and moist are susceptible to a high bacteria count, elevating the chances of infection. Such areas include neck folds, lip folds, and facial folds. Even the elbows, which are pressure points, are vulnerable to infections caused by constant pressure. Any disease which converts the normal, dry conditions of the skin to a more humid environment can lead to bacterial invasion on the skin.

Extreme scaling is the biggest indicator of bacterial pyoderma, with the scales often being pierced by hairs leading to itching. Dogs with superficial pyoderma usually show signs such as scabbing, hairless patches, and welts around hairs. Dog breeds with short hair usually develop numerous welts that resemble hives. This is because the swelling in and around the hair follicles make the hairs to become more upright. Such erect hairs can be removed easily, which is what makes pyoderma different from hives. Due to the loss of hair, the affected areas tend to form small bald spots. Redness and welts may develop at the edges of the bald patches, though these signs are not commonly exhibited by shorthaired breeds. Dogs suffering from deep pyoderma may exhibit signs such as discharge of pus and blood, pain, odour, and crusting, redness, blisters, swelling, scabs, and ulcerations. Other areas on the body that are vulnerable to severe infections include the spaces between the toes, the bridge of the muzzle, elbows, chin, and hocks.

Diagnosing pyoderma is dependent on the signs, and should also involve steps to discover any primary causes. The underlying causes include poor grooming, fleas, hyperthyroidism, and allergies. Bacterial cultures could also be taken. Numerous deep scrapings of the skin are necessary in order to eliminate the possibility of parasitic infections.

Poor treatment using prescribed antibiotic drugs is the number one reason for recurrent bacterial pyoderma. As a dog owner, it is imperative that you carefully follow all your veterinarians’ treatment instructions in order to prevent a recurrence of pyoderma. It doesn’t matter if your dog appears in better condition after only a few days or a week, you must maintain the approved treatment program for the recommended duration of time. The pyoderma-causing bacteria might still be present and able to reproduce again if the whole course of medication is not administered.

The average duration of antibiotic treatment should last about 3 weeks and if possible, for 4 weeks. The signs of pyoderma should have disappeared for at least a week prior to stopping antibiotic treatment. The only exceptions are re-growth of hair and increased pigmentation. Chronic, recurrent, or severe pyoderma usually needs about 8 to 12 weeks or longer to totally heal.

It’s vital to pay attention to grooming. Dogs with deep pyoderma should have their hair coats clipped, while average to longhaired dogs suffering from shallow pyoderma might require professional grooming. Such actions will eliminate unwanted hair which not only helps in grooming but also tends to trap bacteria and debris.

Superficial pyoderma requires dogs to be washed 2-3 times every week for the initial 2 weeks of treatment, then 1-2 times every week till the infection disappears. Deep pyoderma might necessitate daily washing using medicated shampoos watered down to 1/2 or 1/4 concentration. The medicated shampoo will eliminate scales, bacteria, and crusts, while reducing oiliness, odour, and itching. There may be no apparent progress for at least 2 to 3 weeks, and improvement may not be as quick as anticipated. Your veterinarian can suggest a suitable bathing regimen for your pet’s situation.

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