Muzzle Pyoderma in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 05/26/2017Updated: 01/12/2022
Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
Muzzle Pyoderma in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Muzzle Pyoderma?

Pyoderma refers to pus in the skin; muzzle pyoderma is when this occurs in the skin of a dog’s muzzle. Pyoderma is one of the most frequently seen skin disorder in dogs, who will show pimples, lumps, bumps and skin redness when experiencing the condition. Most often, pyoderma is a bacterial infection; the infection can be simple or complex and can be present on a part or all of the dog’s body. 

While pyoderma is a primary skin infection in dogs, it is often the result of an underlying condition the dog is experiencing, such as a depressed immune system. An underlying issue such as an endocrine disorder can result in itching and scratching, leading to your dog’s skin being open to bacteria.

A frequently occurring skin disorder in dogs, muzzle pyoderma occurs when there is an infection resulting in pus in the skin of your dog’s muzzle.

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Symptoms of Muzzle Pyoderma in Dogs

Should your dog be experiencing pyoderma, you may observe the following symptoms:

  • Excessive scaling; in some cases, the scales will be penetrated by hairs. 
  • Skin pimples that are filled with pus
  • Lesions, scabs and flakes of skin
  • Redness of your dog’s skin
  • A foul smell
  • Discomfort resulting in rubbing and scratching

Should your dog be experiencing deep pyoderma, he may display pain and experience crusting. You may notice a foul odor and blood and pus oozing from his skin. Swelling, ulcerations, hemorrhagic crusts and hair loss may be seen. Your dog’s muzzle is susceptible to deep infections. 


Bacterial pyoderma can be a simple or complex infection. A simple infection will occur in young animals as a result of a single event like a flea infestation. A complex infection will recur and be connected to underlying diseases like allergies, internal diseases, seborrheic conditions or anatomic predispositions. Whether the infection is simple or complex, it can be diagnosed as the following:

Surface Canine Pyoderma

This includes inflammation at the surface of the skin. It is often seen as inflammation, ulcerations or openings at the skin folds.

Superficial Canine Pyoderma

This condition includes impetigo, which is a localized skin infection. Also seen is superficial folliculitis (pimples that are filled with pus at the base of your dog’s hair follicles). 

Deep Canine Pyoderma

A deep inflammation of the hair follicle, it may include other conditions like canine acne and cellulitis. Your dog’s skin may appear to have bloody or pus filled crevices.

If the bacterial pyoderma is only in the skin and hair follicles it is considered to be superficial. If the infection occurs in the dermis, deep dermis or leads to furunculosis it is considered deep.

Causes of Muzzle Pyoderma in Dogs

Pyoderma is often caused by an underlying condition in your dog. Itching and scratching will result from the condition, which will cause openings in your dog’s skin that bacteria can enter. Conditions that may lead to pyoderma developing include:

  • Trauma to his skin that occurs from scratching; the scratching can be the result of your dog’s skin itching, bites or wounds
  • Ingrown hairs or splinters
  • Hair follicle diseases
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Problems with your dog’s immune system
  • Skin disorders
  • Allergies
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Cancer
  • Long term steroid use
  • Anatomical issues such as deep skin folds

Diagnosis of Muzzle Pyoderma in Dogs

If you notice concerns regarding the skin of your dog’s muzzle, contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination, looking closely at his skin. Diagnosis will be made based on the clinical signs that are present and observed. Skin scrapings may be taken in order to check for mites. Swabs can confirm the presence of bacteria and determine which strain is present and what medication should be prescribed.

In addition to confirming the condition, your veterinarian will likely seek to discover whether there are any underlying issues that have led to the occurrence of pyoderma, as an immune system that is working well will typically be able to fight off the bacterial infection. Your veterinarian will discuss with you your dog’s history as well as ask for information about any other symptoms you may have observed. Additional testing may be conducted (for example a complete blood count and urinalysis).

Treatment of Muzzle Pyoderma in Dogs

In superficial pyoderma, the main treatment is antibiotics for at least 21 days. The antibiotics should be continued until the clinical lesions are resolved for a minimum of seven days. Should your dog experience chronic, recurrent or deep pyoderma, 8 to 12 weeks or more of treatment will be needed for the condition to resolve. Erythromycin, lincomycin, oxacillin, cephalexin and enrofloxacin are examples of antibiotics that can successfully treat the condition. In most cases, Amoxicillin, penicillin and tetracycline are not effective in resolving pyoderma.

For some dogs, topical antibiotics can be of use in superficial pyoderma. For those with deep pyoderma, a 2% mupirocin ointment will infiltrate the skin though not be absorbed systemically and can be of help.

Antibacterial shampoo is another option for certain types of surface pyoderma and can be used in conjunction with antibiotics or on its own. The shampoo can help minimize symptoms experienced by your dog. It should be left on his skin for ten minutes prior to being rinsed and used at a minimum one time per week. Should your dog be diagnosed with deep pyoderma, his hair should be clipped and he should have antibacterial soaks.

A nutritious diet and skin supplements containing probiotics and omega 3 fatty acids may help to strengthen the skin barrier.

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Recovery of Muzzle Pyoderma in Dogs

A follow up appointment will likely be necessary so that your veterinarian can confirm that treatment has been effective. If, despite treatment, no improvement is seen, your veterinarian will consider if the dose of antibiotic was too low or if it was not the best choice for the bacteria present. He will also seek to be sure that the diagnosis is correct. Should the condition recur, your veterinarian may recommend that you take your dog to a specialist in dermatology.

Muzzle pyoderma could be symptomatic of a serious medical condition. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

Muzzle Pyoderma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals





9 Years


7 found this helpful


7 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Developed scab like bumps above right eye a month ago,thought he had cut it pawing at his face but then I noticed it was happening on his left eye as well a week ago and it wont heal.seems like its spreading.

March 10, 2021

Answered by Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

7 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. Bumps on the skin could be due to a bacterial infection, fungal infection, parasitic infection etc. Be sure he isn't rubbing or scratching his face and use a buster collar to protect the skin if needed. He should see a vet who will prescribe the most appropriate treatment which may include a medicated wash, antibiotics and some anti itch medicine if needed.

March 10, 2021

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Three Weeks


3 found this helpful


3 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Three week old puppies have white pimples around their muzzles/noses. Only a few out of the 8 have them. Os this contagious? What can we do to get rid of them, since they are babies.

Feb. 26, 2021

Answered by Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

3 Recommendations

This looks to be a bacterial infection and could even be puppy strangles. As more than one is affected, it is likely infectious. A vet visit is needed so they can be examined and the lesions may need to be swabbed. The pups will likely benefit from medicine such as a medicated wash and/or antibiotics. At home, keep the skin clean by wiping gently with cotton wool and warm water after feeding. Do also ensure all pups are up to date with their external parasite prevention.

Feb. 26, 2021

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