Pyoderma is a dermatological condition in which irritation usually results in a staphylococcus intermedius bacterial infection of the skin, evidenced by symptoms that include scales or crustiness, small lesions, pustules, hair loss, itchiness and pus that oozes from the affected area. Pyoderma is typically a secondary infection brought on by underlying causes. Once your veterinarian diagnoses the condition, he will prescribe a treatment plan to soothe your dog’s skin.
Common Causes and Diagnostics
Allergies account for some of the causes of pyoderma in dogs. In the case of flea allergy dermatitis, it only takes one bite from a flea to incite an allergic reaction. Allergens in the environment and food ingredients are other allergenic irritants. Pyoderma also results from skin parasites, including sarcoptes and demodex mites, and fungal skin conditions, such as ringworm. Breeds with deep skin folds, such as bulldogs, have an elevated risk of developing pyoderma. Your veterinarian will examine your canine companion’s skin and look for fleas. Skin diagnostics include scraping the skin to check for mites and plucking some hairs for a fungal culture to rule out ringworm. Running blood tests will rule out systemic conditions, such as hypothyroidism, that can also cause pyoderma.
Treating the Cause and the Effect
Once dog’s pyoderma has been evaluated, your veterinarian will recommend treatment for both the underlying cause and the pyoderma. For example, if fleas are the culprits, then a flea preventative will be prescribed along with a treatment plan for the irritated and infected skin. If the preliminary examination and diagnostic tests do not reveal any causes, then your veterinarian may opt to treat the pyoderma alone. If the skin does not respond to treatment, or if the condition recurs, then feeding trials, allergy testing and a consultation with a board-certified veterinary dermatologist may be recommended.
Treating Infection Inside and Out
Treatment for pyoderma typically includes a combination of topical and oral medications. Oral antibiotics are prescribed for a three to four week duration, and more severe cases may require antibiotic therapy for as long as three months. The oral antibiotics provide systemic treatment by ridding your dog of the infection before the bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Topical treatment for the skin may include a schedule of bathing with a medicated shampoo. Once you lather up your furry friend, allow the shampoo to sit on his skin for five to ten minutes before rinsing for the most therapeutic results. Medicated scrub pads, topical antibiotic ointment and a cortisone topical spray to reduce inflammation and itchiness may also be prescribed. Clipping away the hair from the affected areas will allow your dog’s skin to breathe and enable you to do a more effective job of bathing and medicating.
Follow Instructions to Prevent Recurrence
It is imperative that you follow your veterinarian’s treatment instructions, from details regarding the schedule for medicated baths to the duration of oral antibiotic use. Many cases of pyoderma show marked improvement after a week of antibiotics, but the bacteria can lurk and will multiply once again if the antibiotics are discontinued before they are finished. Keep the recheck appointments so that the veterinarian can monitor the progress of the treatment, and be sure to notify him if the condition worsens during treatment. Deviating from your veterinarian’s instructions can result in a recurrence of the pyoderma, which will prove more costly for you and inflict further misery on your dog.
- michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images