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Pyoderma in Dogs (Bacterial Skin Infection, Pus in the Skin)

By: Dr. Mark Thompson

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Diagnosis

Diagnostic tests may include:

  • A detailed medical history. Expect to be asked about how long the lesions have been present, what they looked like initially, and whether itching preceded the lesions or appeared after the lesions.

  • A complete exam of all body systems with particular attention paid to the type and location of lesions present in the skin.

  • Cytology. A pustule may be opened and the contents examined under a microscope. With a pyoderma, bacteria and neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) are usually seen. Neutrophils without bacteria may suggest another disease.

  • Culture. Deep pyodermas are typically cultured to identify the exact bacteria that are present and to help select the best medication. Superficial pyoderma lesions are rarely cultured since they almost always grow the same bacteria (Staphylococcus intermedius).

  • Other tests, such as skin scrapes, allergy tests, complete blood count or blood chemistry analysis, to determine the underlying cause of the pyoderma, especially if the pyoderma recurs after treatment.

    Treatment

    Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics to help kill the bacteria infection

  • Antibacterial shampoos and creams containing benzoyl peroxide, ethyl alcohol or chlorhexidine

  • Treatment to prevent underlying itchy skin diseases or diseases that suppress the immune system for long-term success

    Home Care and Prevention

    Give all medications as instructed. Even if lesions clear up early, antibiotics should be given until all medications are finished. Observe your dog for draining lesions.

    Some causes of pyoderma are not preventable, but the presence of fleas can worsen pyoderma. The best prevention is to follow a complete flea control program as recommended by your veterinarian. In addition, keep your dog clean and brushed free of mats.

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