by Nicola Parry, DVM
Pyoderma refers to a bacterial infection of the skin, and is a very common canine condition. It can produce a lot of discomfort for your dog due to the intense itching that it causes. As a result, he may further traumatize the affected skin ultimately leading to a snowball effect with worsening of the original skin condition.
Although pyoderma represents an extremely common reason for dogs visiting their veterinarian, it must be remembered that it is usually not actually a disease entity in its own right - it typically arises secondary to some other underlying medical issue. Therefore, if you suspect this condition in your dog, it is important to have him examined by a veterinarian – not just for relief of the skin disease, but so he can additionally be evaluated for some underlying (and potentially more serious) problem that may be a predisposing factor:
Some Underlying Conditions That Can Predispose To Pyoderma
- Skin allergy (flea allergy)
- Endocrine disease (hypothyroidism)
- Parasitic skin infection (mange mites)
- Fungal skin infection (malasseziasis)
How Does Infection Start?
The most common bacterial organism involved in pyoderma is Staphylococcus intermedius - a bug that is actually found normally on the skin of healthy dogs. It tends to “turn rogue”, however, in some circumstances – such as when skin is traumatized due to scratching associated with allergic or parasitic conditions, or in association with endocrine diseases. Due to bacterial involvement, these are typically purulent (pus-forming) conditions, and can be either superficial (restricted to the outermost layers of the skin) or deep (extending to involve deeper layers of the skin).
5 Signs Of Pyoderma
- Papules (red bumps)
- Pustules (pimples)
- Crusts (scabs)
- Hair loss
- Draining wounds
The treatment of pyoderma involves a two-pronged attack:
- Treatment of the bacterial infection Veterinary treatment is imperative for effective treatment of pyoderma, and typically involves antibiotic therapy given by mouth, as well as by topical application to the skin.
- Diagnosis of the underlying skin condition Your veterinarian will also begin a diagnostic workup to investigate the cause of the pyoderma. This will then need to be treated in order to break the cycle of infection.
How You Can Help
In addition to seeking veterinary help if you see any of the signs of pyoderma in your dog, one important way in which you can help is by keeping him properly groomed at all times. Additionally, if you are aware that he has any underlying skin conditions, be sure to manage those as effectively as possible. If he has flea allergy dermatitis, for example, use his favorite soothing products such as Comfy Dog oatmeal shampoo, and Fur Butter ultra-rich conditioner, both of these are rich in oatmeal which help to soothe itchy skin. If he has irritated skin, apply his Itchin’ For Relief spray after bathing to help soothe his skin further. And in addition to any pharmaceutical products that your vet may have advised, don’t forget to apply his Flea The Scene regularly, in order to manage his flea infestation.
So remember that pyoderma is usually secondary to some predisposing skin disease, and almost all skin diseases in dogs tend to involve some degree of pyoderma. Although it is certainly important to treat the bacterial infection itself, effective management of this condition therefore also requires identification and treatment of the underlying primary skin disease. While your veterinarian needs to be involved for optimum resolution of pyoderma in your dog, you can certainly play an important role in making sure that his coat is kept clean and well-groomed and that any allergies are under control.