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What are Skin Blisters and Pustules?

Cancer, bacteria, and inflammation are just a few of the conditions that may cause secondary skin complications which can result in skin blisters and pustules. Most of the skin conditions that affect dogs are visible to the eye. As well, your pet will surely let you know of his discomfort because skin irritations can be very distressing. It is important to address a skin condition promptly in order to eradicate the underlying cause, and return your pet to his normal state of health.

Skin blisters and pustules result from various causes, and can lead to extremely serious complications. Bacterial infections can be the source of severe outbreaks of the canine epidermis. Also known to have an effect on the skin are autoimmune diseases. Skin eruptions can evolve to a life-threatening state. If your dog is suffering from a skin condition, a visit to the veterinarian is crucial.

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Skin Blisters and Pustules Average Cost

From 42 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$550

Symptoms of Skin Blisters and Pustules in Dogs

Skin blisters and pustules can cause much anxiety for your pet. Prompt diagnosis of the reason for the outbreak is necessary to prevent the skin condition from getting out of hand. Your dog may exhibit the following signs and symptoms indicating a serious problem with the epidermis:

  • Warm, humid areas, such as folds in the neck, may appear red and ulcerated
  • Pressure points, like the elbow, may have welts or scabs
  • Ulcers can also emerge around the eyes, in the ears, and on the footpads, anus, groin, or axillae (armpits)
  • Blisters can develop in the mouth and also on the skin around the nails
  • There may be scaling of the skin, hair loss, or bald patches
  • Yellow pustules or sacs of fluid may secrete blood or pus and turn crusty
  • There might be an odor no matter how much you clean the area
  • Your dog may display signs of pain
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Pruritus (inability to resist licking, scratching, or attempts at self-harm in an effort to stop the irritation and itch)
Types

Skin blisters and pustules can appear in an acute form, and may at times resolve (for a short period) on their own. In all cases, treatment is recommended in favor of resolution because a skin condition can lead to life-threatening circumstances. Additionally, removing the cause of the problem is necessary for a cure or control of the condition.

  • Pyodermas
    • Caused by a bacterial skin infection
    • Presence of yellow pustules that can ooze and itch
    • Mostly found on the trunk area, obese dogs and Pugs are predisposed to infection in skin folds
    • Also found on toes, callouses on feet, and the abdomens of puppies
    • Not contagious to other pets or to humans
  • Skin Fold Dermatitis
    • Bulldogs are prone
    • Skin becomes red and oozy
    • Irritation is found on the lips, face, and vulva
    • May progress with severe complications if left untreated
  • Cutaneous Lymphoma
    • This is a rare type of skin cancer
    • Displays with itching ulcers, redness, and nodules
    • Unfortunately this skin condition usually does not respond to treatment
Autoimmune Skin Conditions
  • Pemphigus Foliaceus
    • Akitas are prone
    • The skin around the nails can be affected
    • Ulcers may also be found in the ears, eyes, footpads and groin
  • Pemphigus Vegetans
    • Presents with chronic oozing and pus
    • Is more prevalent warmer sunny climates
    • Sun is a potential trigger
  • Pemphigus Vulgaris
    • Appears with fluid-filled blisters
    • Become open sores as the blisters rupture easily
    • Found in mouth, nostrils and around anus
  • Pemphigus Erythematosus
    • There will be scaling of skin
    • Irritation begins with redness and crusty patches
    • There may be hair loss specifically on nose
  • Bullous Pemphigoid
    • Presents with welts first
    • Next stage is sacs of clear fluid
    • Can be very itchy
    • The most common places it is found are the mouth, axillae (armpits) and groin
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Causes of Skin Blisters and Pustules in Dogs

Skin blisters and pustules can occur for a variety of reasons, some of which are listed below:

  • Staphylococci bacteria over colonizes
  • Warm, moist areas can develop a high bacteria count
  • Skin conditions can be secondary to allergies or parasites
  • In the case of an autoimmune disease, the body attacks the immune system
  • Healthy cells are mistakenly attacked resulting in separation of skin
  • Pyodermas can result from damage to the skin like tumors, urine scalding or bite wounds
  • Medications for illnesses such as liver disease or cancer can cause an immunosuppression that leads to a skin condition
  • Genetics may play a role in problems with the epidermis
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Diagnosis of Skin Blisters and Pustules in Dogs

The diagnosis of skin blisters and pustules can be complex. Identification of the underlying cause is paramount to the resolution of the skin issue. The veterinarian will need a complete history, as detailed as possible, in order to begin the diagnostic process. The veterinary specialist will want to know the following information:

  • Specifics on your pet’s diet (brand of food, treats)
  • Medications your dog may be taking
  • Grooming products used (bring labels for analysis)
  • Recent illnesses
  • Travel history

The appearance and location of the blisters or pustules can provide a clue to the type of skin condition. However, the veterinarian will also need to perform certain tests to definitively diagnose the lesions. To begin, it is possible that blood tests and allergy tests will be ordered.

A skin biopsy may be done. It is called a punch biopsy and involves taking a small round block of skin. The biopsy may be done using a local anesthetic, but if your dog is nervous or stressed, or if the biopsy involves the face or nose, sedation or a general anesthetic will be suggested.

Another diagnostic tool is immunofluorescence, which is a light microscopy technique that can detect specific target antigens (substances that cause your immune system to produce antibodies against it). Needle aspirate cytology used to examine cells, and skin scraping, in order to exclude causes like parasites, may be done.

Culturing the skin, in an attempt to grow and identify bacteria, along with a fungal culture and adhesive tape prep (to examine cells, yeast or other abnormalities under the microscope) are additional tests that may be performed.

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Treatment of Skin Blisters and Pustules in Dogs

Treatment will involve the resolution of the underlying cause if needed, as well as a variation of methods depending on the type of skin condition.

In the case of an autoimmune issue, corticosteroids, which are drugs that lessen the efforts of the immune system to attack, will be given along with other immunosuppressant medications. It should be noted that depending on the skin condition; some immunosuppressants can be given during flares only, once the initial problem is under control. An autoimmune related skin condition is rarely curable but may be managed quite well with medication.

In instances of pyodermas, 3 to 4 weeks of antibiotics will be prescribed. The antibiotics will be in oral and topical form. Bathing with a medicated shampoo 2 to 3 times a week is required, and in severe cases a daily bath may be vital to a positive outcome.

When a dog has an acute form of skin blisters and pustules in the folds of the skin, surgical correction might be considered. Surgical intervention to drain pustules can be an appropriate treatment also.

Included in the treatment protocol may be anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and pain, acupuncture, light therapy or a dietary overhaul.

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Recovery of Skin Blisters and Pustules in Dogs

The recovery of a serious skin condition is never a quick process. For example, healing of pyodermas can take up to 8 to 12 weeks. However, a mild improvement should be evident within 14 to 21 days of the start of treatment. Recurrent cases are possible and sometimes will need a staphylococcal vaccine in order to see results.

Attention to grooming is essential. The services of a professional groomer should be sought out. Removal of hair, because of the likelihood of trapping bacteria, is key to avoiding a recurrence of the problem. Continual use of oral and topical antibiotics may be necessary for some time. The use of bandages or an Elizabethan collar could be recommended by the veterinarian to lessen the licking and biting that your dog might want to do.

With the use of corticosteroids for autoimmune related skin problems, you will need to be aware of possible side effects. Changes in appetite (decrease or increase), panting, increased drinking of water and thus, more urination, vomiting, and inactivity may be evident in your dog’s behavior. Consult the veterinarian promptly to address the side effects. Avoid direct sunlight with skin problems diagnosed in the pemphigus family of conditions.

Never stop antibiotics or ointments prematurely. Frequent check-ups with the veterinary caregiver are part of the recovery (may include blood tests and urinalysis to monitor side effects of the therapy), as is diligent skin care at home.

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Skin Blisters and Pustules Average Cost

From 42 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$550

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Skin Blisters and Pustules Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Australian Cattle Dog/Labrador

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Blood Blister/Pustual On Mouth

any idea of what this may be? She started with the one pictured and now has several located around her mouth.

Aug. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question, and the pictures. That does look like a small tumor of some type, and I would worry about it rupturing and bleeding, especially given the location and how easy it is for her to scratch at her mouth. It would be a good idea to have her seen by her veterinarian and discuss whether those growths need to be removed. If your veterinarian thinks having them looked at by a pathologist to see what type of tumor they are, they can let you know more once they have seen her. I hope that all goes well for her!

Aug. 26, 2020

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Dachshund

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Three Years

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Red Bumps On Chest And Stomach

My dachshund has red bumps some filled with puss covering his chest and stomach

Aug. 9, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. The signs that you describe can be caused by infection, parasites, fungal disease, or allergies. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can see what the cause might be and get treatment to help him be healthy again. I Hope that all goes well for your dog.

Aug. 11, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Two Years

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1 found helpful

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Blister Bump

Out of nowhere she has a blister looking bump on her ear. It definitely grew rapidly within a day or two. It hasn’t gotten bigger since it appeared. We do think she’s had a similar type blister bump on her ear before that went away on its own (this was several months ago). It doesn’t seem to bother her at all, it’s just worrisome how it appeared out of nowhere.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Dogs can get blood blisters, infections, or allergies that can cause these kinds of problems. If the bump is not getting smaller, then she probably needs to see a veterinarian. There may be an underlying cause that is making this happen more than once, and she may need some medication to help her. I hope that everything goes well for her.

Aug. 7, 2020

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Jack Russell / Rat Terrier

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Nine Years

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Pimple On Skin/ Pink Raised Bump

I noticed a pustule of some sort on my dogs head behind her ear when I was petting her earlier. She doesn't have any symptoms other than she sheds a lot but she always has since she was a puppy I just figured it was her breed and I don't think they are related at all. But my dog hasn't been bothered by this bump at all until I was messing with it trying to figure out if it was a tick but it's more like a pimple on her skin. I have made an appointment with the vet but its not for a few days I was hoping you might have a idea for me.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. From your pictures, it looks like a benign skin tag, which does occur in dogs as they get older, and doesn't typically cause any problems. It would be best to have your veterinarian confirm that, but that is what it looks like in the pictures. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Two Years

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Hair Loss On Elbow, 2Bleeding Holes With Puss

Do u have any idea what this sore is

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Dogs have a normal callous over their elbows, and sometimes that callous gets infected. If you are seeing pus or other discharge, your dog may need antibiotics, and it would be a good idea to have a veterinarian take a look at the area. Once they are able to examine your dog, they can let you know what therapy may be needed. I hope that all goes well!

Aug. 8, 2020

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Osiris

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Doberman Pinscher Australian sheprador

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6 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Small Pimples

Pet name- Osiris Gender- unaltered male Age- 6 months Med history- on received first set of 5in1 shots Approx weight-60lbs I noticed while petting him that I felt multiple tiny hard bumps on his back legs. I couldn't really see them because of his coat so I carefully shaved one side lightly to see the bumps they look almost like little pimples there kind of hard . Now a month or so ago he had a run-in with a cactus with very thin needles so i thought that maybe it was possible I didn't get all the needles out so using tweezers I lightly squeezed one and it seemed to pop almost like a ingrown hair would I didn't see a needle so I didn't want to mess with it and didn't want to have him in pain . He seems fine except now he is limping that cactus may be completely not related but I mentioned it just in case the bumps could be from leftover needles I don't want him in pain should I be worried do you recommend a vet please help my lil baby (we also recently removed two ticks from his neck area in case that matters)

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Nala

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Pit bull

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4 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Lethargy
Pustules
Poor Appetite
Pimples

I have a 4-month-old pitbull puppy that has always had small pustules or pimples on her belly. Those have for the most part have cleared up but still pop up on her vulva. She never really liked them touched. Now she has to largeish pustules on her upper lip and one has ruptured. She now has a poor appetite and not acting like her normal puppy self. Walking slow, laying in her crate. My vet said that the ones on her belly aren't something to worry about and they did go away. But I'm concerned that something bigger might be going on.

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Jax

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German Shepherd

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4 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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No Symptoms

I have a 4 month old german shepard and I just noticed 2 Blisters(bumps) on the outside of his eyelid. That same eye seams to have a little more discharge compared to the other eye.

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Sophie

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Yorkshire Terrier

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pustules, Itching
Pustules, Itching, Lesion

My 11yr old Yorkie has raised pimple type lesions all over her body. Some has white tops. They are very itchy. She presented with an open lesion on her face this morning. She has an infection in her left eye that is being treated with ointment. She also has an open lesion near her vulva. What could be wrong?

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pepper

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Cocker Spaniel

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10 Months

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

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my 10 month old girl cocker spaniel has got small spots around her private part, some has puss and some just round. I am not sure what these are just looking for some info.

Skin Blisters and Pustules Average Cost

From 42 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$550

Nutramax Welactin Omega-3 Supplement

For dogs with dry skin

Shop now
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