Pyoderma in Dogs

When we have decided to own a dog, it’s inevitable to learn all about their breeds, their likes and dislikes and most importantly ‘health care’. To keep our dog healthy; it’s essential to provide them proper exercise daily. If not, it may cause obesity, which leads to many other diseases.

Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection that is very common in canines. It was derived from a Greek word, were pyo means ‘pus’ and derma means ‘skin’. The condition can be recognized by a papules or pustules (pimples containing pus) on the skin. Itching, redness, crusts or hair loss (an infected area) is also common in pyoderma. If the puppies get the same illness, then it’s referred as ‘impetigo’.

Symptoms of Pyoderma

The clinical signs of pyoderma excluding papules and pustules are:

  • Crusted skin.
  • Continuous itching.
  • Hair may stand up in affected areas.
  • Foul odour.
  • Dried discharge in affected area.

Causes of Pyoderma

There are many possible conditions that make a dog suffer from Pyoderma, which includes:

  • Skin injury or inflammation.
  • Scratching due to itchiness in skin , wounds or trauma.
  • Immune system problem.
  • Parasitic diseases such as fleas or demodicosis.
  • Long term use of steroidal medications.
  • Hormonal imbalances.
  • Metabolic disorders such as canine liver disease.
  • Dog skin disorders.
  • Hypersensitivity to bacteria.
  • Autoimmune disease.
  • Chafing of thinly-haired areas such as underarms and groin.
  • Thyroid disease.
  • Allergies – skin inflammation due to an allergic response to environment, inhaled or food
    Hardening of the cells.
  • Immune suppression caused by certain medications, cancer, viral or other illness.

Dogs of any age can be affected by this disease.

Diagnosing Pyoderma

Pyoderma in canines can be easily diagnosed; hence the papules were easily found on the skin. This is a common issue, which is seen in dogs and it usually takes weeks to clear this infection. The diagnosis will be often based on, the clinical signs and medical history of our pet. To confirm a bacterial infection or primary causes, there are many tests such as:

  • Skin scrape – it’s performed by collecting a skin cells sample with a dull scalpel blade or similar instrument (usually a small amount of blood is seen). The skin cell sample is tested under a microscope. Rather than pain it may cause discomfort to the dog at the time of diagnose.
  • Biopsy – for skin biopsy; after a local anaesthesia, the suspicious tissue is removed by using a scalpel blade, biopsy needle or special biopsy pouch and it is sent to the lab for evaluation.
  • Adhesive tape prep – this is a simple and harmful process done by placing a small strip of adhesive tape upon the skin or hair of our dog for a few seconds. It permits the skin cells to stick onto the tape. These are examined under a microscope for further details.
  • Blood test – a sample of blood can reveal internal disorders, such as Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism.
  • Allergy testing – along with blood and skin tests, food trials can also be done to determine the causes of allergy. The specific treatment for allergy will be provided by the vet.

Treating Pyoderma

The typical treatment for pyoderma is a course of antibiotics, which is treated within two to five weeks (as prescribed by vet) or topical therapy. Antibiotics can be treated by injection, mouth or in a variety of formulations like gels, creams, shampoo or sprays.

If there exist any disorders like fleas, allergies, etc; it has to be treated first before going onto the pyoderma. The chances of re-entry of pyoderma is very high.

Extra care must be given for the dogs under the treatment because; bacteria’s attack the infected area very quickly. Dog’s with superficial pyoderma should be bathed 2-3 times every week until the infection gets resolved. If possible, provide them clean, dry bedding all times and cover them with extra blankets.


The best way to prevent pyoderma is to follow good basic hygienic techniques and must provide appropriate animal husbandry practices.

There might be a complication, if bacteria’s enter to the blood, so it’s important to observe them carefully throughout their recovery period. And continuing the recommended shampoos and spray helps in reduction of pyoderma from coming back. A primary stage of pyoderma can be treated and cured within 30 days. In case if there isn’t any improvement seen, additional testing is required, or other possible reasons may be because of wrong antibiotic, low dosage or wrong diagnosis.

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