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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 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 the only primary skin infection in dogs, it is often the result of an underlying condition the dog is experiencing, such as a depressed immune system. The secondary condition 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

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, parasitic diseases 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

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 confirm the presence of bacteria. 

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 or 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.

Recovery of Muzzle Pyoderma in Dogs

A follow up appointment will likely be necessary so that your veterinarian can confirm that treatment is 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 that infected him. 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.