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 skin allergies, 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.
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.
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 veterinarian 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.
Ask Our Vet A Question or Share Your Story
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
(2) Washington State University
School of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Candace Souza
(4) Malassezia pachydermatis
Carriage in Dog Owners
Daniel O. Morris, Kathleen O'Shea, Frances S. Shofer, Shelley Rankin
Recent Advances In Canine Infectious Diseases
Muller and Kirk's Small Animal Dermatology
Scott, D. W., Miller, W. H., Griffin, C. E.