Causes and Treatment of Canine Skin Infection
Dog Skin Infection QuickLinks
Skin infection in dogs can be caused by bacteria (pyoderma, impetigo,
superficial bacterial folliculitis), fungus (yeast, ringworm) or skin
parasites. Bacterial infections are referred to as being superficial
(on the surface of the skin) or deep, which means that it has
penetrated deeper than the hair follicles. The best approach is to
veterinarian who can examine a cell skin sample in order to understand
the cause of the condition. Infection does not always result in
symptoms, but the infected dog can still spread the infection as a
carrier. The results of any testing will direct the course of treatment
which can include one or more mediations such as topical creams, oral
medications or an injection. If the case is uncomplicated, any
infection on the dog's skin will respond quickly. If there is another
underlying cause that results causes an infection, then that will need
to be addressed as part of the treatment plan."
Pyoderma (bacterial infection) on Dog Nose (2)
Canine skin infection can occur in a variety of forms, including both fungal and bacterial infections and parasites. Not every dog skin disorder is caused by an infection, however; there can be other causes. These include:
- Allergy accompaned by itch and skin rash can cause scratching
which results in recurrent superficicial folliculitis.
- Endocrine gland disorder (hormonal problem)
The response to treatment further confirms the cause of the dog skin condition. For example, if being treated for bacterial infection and if the patient does not respond, then the veterinarian should double check to determine if yeast or ringworm is the underlying cause. (1). When dogs have healthy skin, fungus colonizes in low numbers. In dogs with ski nallergies, the yeast population can dramatically increase in the ear canals and on the skin.(4)
Canine skin infection can have a variety of symptoms, depending on
the type of infection.
Dog Skin Infection Causes and Symptoms
Symptoms usually occur on areas with sparse hair such as the trunk
(type of yeast infection)
Mange on Dog Body (3)
With any type of canine skin infection, you may notice bald patches, and your dog may also scratch excessively or lick or bite at his skin.
Call your veterinarian immediately if your dogs face is swollen or puffy. This could be a symptom of a dangerous hypersensitivity allergic reaction.
The canine skin infection will need to be diagnosed by a vet. In some cases, the veterinarian will be able to diagnose the infection just by looking at it.
In other cases, tests will be needed in order to determine the exact nature and cause of the infection. Tests may include examining the affected area under a special ultraviolet light, taking a swab of any seepage from the area to be examined under a microscope, and/or blood tests.
Sometimes the dog skin infection is secondary to another condition.
This means that your dog has another problem that causes his skin to
itch and he has scratched so much that it has caused the area to
develop a bacterial infection. In that case, the skin infection must be
treated, but the underlying cause of the itching must also be
determined and treated as well.
Bacterial Skin Infection
Superficial Bacterial Dog Skin Infection on Longhair Black Dachshund (2)
The treatment of dog skin disorders depends on the cause of the
infection. If it is a bacterial infection, oral antibiotics are
prescribed for a minimum of three weeks. It takes two weeks for the
skin to clear and one week to ensure the condition is cured. If the
bacterial skin infection returns, then dogs are treated for another 6
weeks. In the majority of cases this results in a complete cure. If it
does not, a veternarian will look for an underlying cause.
Some veterinarians prefer not to repeat the antibiotics and instead manage the condition using long term topical prescription shampoo therapy. The shampoo is left on the dog for 10 minute in order to penetrate the skin and canine skin infection.
If it is a fungal infection, oral anti-fungal medications are usually prescribed, along with medicated shampoos. There are also natural dog ringworm treatments. Other options are topical antibiotics and anti-fungal creams, but your dog will probably lick these off before they can be effective.
You will need to discourage your dog from scratching or licking the affected area so that it can heal without further irritation.
If your dog frequently suffers from skin problems you might want to try a homeopathic supplement like PetAlive Skin and Coat Tonic which is designed for this purpose. Ingredients to look for include Equisetum arvense (Horsetail), Taraxacum officinalis (Dandelion), Arthrospira platenis (Spirulina), Fucus vesiculosis and Kalium sulphate.
For More Information
and Treatment of Dog Bacterial Skin Infections (PDF
Ringworm Infection (PDF Download, Northpark Animal Hospital)
Have A Question about a Dog Skin Infection for our Veterinarian?
Do you have a question about a dog skin infection or canine dermatological issue? Ask it and our Veterinarian will answer it for free.
Please include your dog's age, breed, medical history, medications and if possible, a picture of the canine skin condition.
We will do our best to get back to you quickly (it depends on how many questions we receive each day). If you do require an immediate response we suggest using this online dog veterinary service that is available now. This service will answer short online vet questions for free.
References and Sources:
(1) Diagnosis and Treatment of Superficial and Deep
K. Marcia Murphy, DVM, DACVD
Department of Companion Animals and Special Species
North Carolina State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
4700 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh NC 27606
Scott, D. W., Miller, W. H., Griffin, C. E.
Muller and Kirk's Small Animal Dermatology