Jump to section

What is Pyoderma?

Pyoderma is a bacterial infection that is caused by an overabundance of an ordinary bacterial resident, usually Staphylococcus intermedius, which results in scaled, itchy skin, frequently incorporating pustules and ulcers. It is a relatively common condition in dogs, particularly in warm, moist environments or when the immune system becomes compromised in some way. Antibiotics are usually effective in eliminating this disease, although reoccurrence is common if any or all underlying conditions are not thoroughly addressed. 

Pyoderma is a relatively common skin disorder characterized by scaly, itchy skin that frequently develops pustules and ulcers. This uncomfortable disorder is caused by an overabundance of certain varieties of bacteria on the animal’s skin.

Symptoms of Pyoderma in Dogs

Pyoderma is a relatively common disorder in dogs and can occur at any age. Symptoms are similar to many other skin disorders and those most common are:

  • Blood or pus on skin
  • Crusting
  • Foul odor from skin
  • Hair loss
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Redness
  • Scaling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Swelling
  • Ulcerated skin
  • Yellow papules

Types

In many cases, pyoderma occurs as a single incident, but for some dogs, it can become a chronic issue. Certain conditions, such as diseases that compromise the immune system or allergies, may contribute to the pyoderma becoming chronic. Environmental influences, such as a hot, humid climate, may also increase the chances of a case of pyoderma becoming chronic, particularly with dogs that have wrinkles or folds in their skin. Most often pyoderma is superficial, meaning that it only affects the upper layers of the skin, however, it can also attack deeper layers of the skin, making it more challenging to treat. Puppies may also develop temporary cases of pyoderma due to their underdeveloped immune system. Puppy pyoderma, also sometimes referred to as puppy strangles, is generally concentrated in sparsely furred areas, such as the face, groin, belly, or armpits of the animal.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Pyoderma in Dogs

Pyoderma is most often caused by the Staphylococcus intermedius bacteria, a common resident on the skin and hair of most dogs, although other bacteria are occasionally to blame. In certain circumstances, these normal bacteria can over colonize on the animal’s skin and cause an infection that leads to itching, skin discoloration, and in some cases, open wounds from scratching. Conditions are most conducive to the formation of this disorder can include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Immunosuppression
  • Physical damage to the skin
  • Warm, moist environments
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Pyoderma in Dogs

Your visit to the veterinarian will most likely start with a full physical examination, with particular attention being paid to the areas that are showing the symptoms, and a thorough history of your canine’s health and a timeline of symptoms can be extremely beneficial to an accurate diagnosis. The symptoms of pyoderma will typically prompt your veterinarian to collect skin samples during the general physical, usually, through a technique know as skin scraping.

These samples are used in a microscopic evaluation of the skin cells, called cutaneous cytology, which is utilized to see infestations and infections that may not be visible to the naked eye. An overabundance of bacteria may be detected microscopically, at which point a culture of the sample will be taken to determine what type of bacteria they are. Routine tests, such as a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis, may help to identify any underlying conditions that will need to be addressed before the skin condition can be fully restored.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Pyoderma in Dogs

The areas around the infection will be shaved in order to get a better idea of the damage, as well as to allow better absorption of topical medications, typically followed by a full body cleansing with an antibacterial shampoo formulated with medications for dogs such as Benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine, which must remain on the skin for at least ten minutes before rinsing for full effectiveness. Your veterinarian will also instruct you regarding continuing bathing routines that are required to clear the infection.

Typically, antibiotic baths are repeated two to three times a week for the first two weeks or so, and then reduced to once or twice a week until the infection has been resolved. Oral antibiotics will also be prescribed for several weeks to ensure that the infection is fully under control, and should be continued until at least a week after any pustules or clinical lesions are resolved. It is crucial that any underlying conditions, like Cushing’s disease, allergies that affect the skin, or hormonal imbalances, also be addressed while treating the pyoderma itself, or the condition will reoccur.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Pyoderma in Dogs

During the recovery period, it is best to have a comfortable and quiet space available for your companion to recuperate with plenty of access to food and water if they need it. Following the instructions that are given regarding oral and topical medication and adhering closely to bathing requirements will be required to eradicate the infection. Typically, rehabilitation measures will need to be continued even after the symptoms are no longer apparent as pyoderma can easily rematerialize treatment is not continued. Overall, the prognosis for pyoderma without any underlying conditions is excellent, however, disorders such as allergies and immunocompromising diseases may increase the recovery time.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Pyoderma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

Three Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness

My dog has rednees all over her back feets..and there is pain in it. How could it will be recover.? I think it is Pyoderma infection.. please help me to recover my dog.

July 18, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There are a few reasons that that might be happening, including a mite, a parasite, allergies, or a bacterial or yeast infection. Since each of those are treated differently, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian, as they can see what the cause might be and give her the right medication to treat. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 18, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Hanks

dog-breed-icon

Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bumps

I think my golden retriever puppy has puppy pyoderma, but the small bumps are not in the stomach area. When he first started getting them I thought it might be a tick, that is what the bumps feel like. He has taken a round of antibiotics which seems to help some, I noticed he didn't have as many bumps. About a week after the antibiotics the bumps are coming back, they are on his chest and the back of his neck in higher concentrations. Is this pyoderma or should I be looking at something else?

Sept. 11, 2018

Hanks' Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Eddie

dog-breed-icon

Shiloh Shepherd

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Yellow Pustules, Sores And Rash

My dog has had pustules, redness and sores on belly. He is a shiloh with no hair on lower part of stomach. He licks all the time which makes it worse. Vet gave him antibiotic treatments, antibiotic spray and to no avail it keeps coming back. This is 7 years now and I am concerned.

Aug. 8, 2018

Eddie's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

If Eddie has been having this problem for 7 years, it may be a long term problem. Allergies can cause that type of reaction, as can resistant bacteria. It may be a good idea to either discuss it with your veterinarian and see if Eddie might benefit from allergy medication, or to get a second opinion to see what another veterinarian thinks might be going on.

Aug. 8, 2018

I have recently had the same problem with my dog. licks constantly. then about 3 weeks ago started getting red sores on his stomach. Vet gave medicated shampoo, spraying some blue stuff daily and giving antibiotics. It starts to clear up then new red spots appear overnite. I took him off the antibiotics and started benadryl everyday, that helped then he broke out again yesterday. So we are headed back to the vet on Tuesday.

Aug. 8, 2018

Beth C.

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Charley

dog-breed-icon

Berger Blanc Suisse

dog-age-icon

10 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Exhaustion
Infected Open Wounds

Hi, My dog was exhausted for two days. And I noticed he has pain in his back, investigating under his coat I noticed many infected wounds in his back through the line of the spine. The wounds were open, infected and in some parts bloody. the skin in some parts was red or purple. The veterinarian​​​ ran a blood test and the results show that everything is in the normal zone except the MONO showing 3.19 K/μl. The tissue under the microscope showed infection by bacteria as well. The vet could not certainly diagnose what the cause is; whether it is a food allergy or something else. I had changed his dry food a month ago and recently I have given him some new treats like shrimps and salami. I believe the scratches which caused the infected wounds are caused when I brushed him three days ago as the injuries are in the line of the spine. We started the treatment with antihistamines and antibiotics. Do you have any suggestion that we can diagnose the cause to prevent it?

Aug. 1, 2018

Charley's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say what the specific cause is, but generally with allergies we would expect to see more disseminated skin lesions than just along the spine; you should follow the treatment prescribed by your Veterinarian and ensure that any wounds are free of dirt and debris. If you’re suspecting a food allergy, you should switch back to the old diet and remove the old treats; then after a few weeks reintroduce them one by one a week or so apart and see if the condition recurs. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 2, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Sally

dog-breed-icon

Corgi

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Sores
Scabbing,

My dog has a history of pyoderma which cleared up nicely with a medicated shampoo with chlorhexidine. She has a reoccurrence but the local vet could not give her an appointment for over two weeks. It's been a week since I called about the condition around her neck and it is all down her back now. I called again and still cannot get an appointment. Do you think I should take her to an emergency vet clinic? I'm surprised my vet doesn't think it is an urgent condition as there are open sores and scabbing which I described over the phone. It's not like we are walking in off the street. We've been going to that vet practice for 25 years including multiple surgeries for pets and buy prescription dog food there. I'm interested in an opinion if this is a condition that should receive care soon or would it be ok to wait two weeks?

June 26, 2018

Sally's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

I think that if Sally's skin is as bad as you describe, waiting 2 weeks is far too long. If you have an emergency clinic available, it would be better to have her seen there, as the sooner that she starts treatment, the sooner she'll begin to recover. That type of infection can be quite painful and can take time to recover from. I hope that she is okay.

June 26, 2018

Thank you! I was able to get her into a nearby vet practice to get her started on medicated mousse and an antibiotic. I feel so much better than having her wait and watch the condition get worse.

June 26, 2018

Sally's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Ginger

dog-breed-icon

Terrier mix

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching Red Raised Bumps Pigment Change

My fur baby has been suffering with pyoderma for at least one year now I have taken her to the vet several times and spent a small fortune. She has been on different antibiotics received shots as well as bathing her with shampoo designed specifically for pyoderma. I don't know what to do to clear this issue. We moved to Alabama from Texas and while living in Texas she never had this issue. ..it only occurred when we moved to Alabama. I am now bathing her three times a week and using the 50 50 vinegar rinse but she continues to have outbreaks...please help me!I am running out of options and don't know what to do anymore.

dog-name-icon

Luca

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Licking Paws
Scabs
Flaky Skin

My dog, Luca got this last year around spring time. It came out of no where and within three days he had two huge pustules and I tried my best to keep them clean until we could get into the vet. They said it was bacteria under the skin in these pustules. Antibiotics and steroids and we were good to go, except they left two very large scars. It has happened again this year, and he is losing more hair. Except this time they are very small, but there are lots of them. We changed food, the medicine worked, but when the medicine was out they came back a few weeks later. It almost seems to be seasonal. I'm wondering if there's an allergy med I can put him on? He licks his feet a lot and I've heard that's a sign of allergies in dogs. Also, will his hair from these little spots grow back?

dog-name-icon

Ziggy

dog-breed-icon

Mastin spanis

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Inflamation

Ziggy, my best friend,has always has skin problems, he seems to be allergic to everything. He has been on and off prednisone all his life. This year he has had a horrible skin infection around eyes,.under mouth and all across belly and groin area. I've cured his eyes and mouth with antibiotics and a antiseptic wash that the vet gave me. Yet the belly area is not getting any better, Ziggy is in constant frustration trying to lick himself. His slim down there looks alien, red raw and pigmented dark gray, humid all the time. I've just started him on another course of prednisone but it doesn't seem to be having effect. I don't know what else to do, I am low on money for vets and me and Ziggy have just moved to another country. Please any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

dog-name-icon

CeeCee

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Our dachschund has been diagnosed with a staph skin infection (culture) and it is generalized across her entire body. Scabs and postules, hotspots, you name it and she is miserable. We have tried Apoquel with some degree of success, Prednisone (not much help) and then antibiotics (cephalexin,and carpoxdiem?)-also most recently fish oil and benadryl We are seeing a dermatologist for hope of some relief. Looking for any successful treatment options as there do not seem to be many for this condition.

How can we help your pet?