Chronic Pyoderma

Written by michelle benningfield
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  • Introduction

    Chronic Pyoderma

    Pyoderma is a common skin infection in dogs. There are a wide variety of causes for this condition. Also, the disease has varying levels of severity, and treatment depends largely on the severity of the infection. Chronic or recurring pyoderma needs attention from your veterinarian, since tests and medicine may be necessary.

    Pyoderma is a common skin condition in dogs. (Dog image by Miron Kostiukov from

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    What Is Pyoderma?

    Pyoderma is a common skin condition in dogs. Usually it is caused by a bacterial infection (Staphylococcus Intermedius), but there may be other causes as well. Nearly 90 per cent of pyoderma cases are staph related. There are different levels of infection, some more serious than others, depending on how many layers of skin are affected. The types of infection include: Surface pyoderma The bacteria infect the topmost layer of skin. Superficial pyoderma The bacterial infection goes under the surface close to the level of the hair follicle. Deep pyoderma The bacterial infection goes much deeper, below the level of the hair follicle.

    Bacterial infections are the most common causes for pyoderma. (bacteria image by chrisharvey from

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    What Does Pyoderma Look Like?

    Commonly a dog with pyoderma may itch or have red areas on the skin with pimple or scablike marks. Also, the pet may have a foul odour. Each level of pyoderma has slightly different signs. The signs of surface pyoderma include redness and irritation that may be accompanied by raised, round scabs. The signs of superficial pyoderma include yellow spots that break open into larger scabs and wounds. The signs of deep pyoderma include abscesses, oozing sores, inflamed skin and general (systemic) sickness. Some areas are more likely to become infected with pyoderma: between the toes, inside the ears, at the groin and on the middle of the back. Since some diseases, such as yeast infections, may have similar symptoms, if the condition does not quickly disappear, you should contact your veterinarian.

    Pyoderma symptoms can range from irritation to open wounds. (dog image by Ergün Ã--zsoy from

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    Other Common Causes of Pyoderma

    Not all pyoderma cases are bacterial infections. Some are caused by allergies, fleas or other issues. At first, your veterinarian may rule out some of these other issues to see if the pyoderma is cured. Some of the other types of pyoderma are: Primary pyoderma If it develops suddenly, for an indeterminate reason, your dog may have a weak immune system, either because of an underlying disease or genetic predisposition. Atopy This is a disorder where your dog may be hypersensitive to a variety of allergens such as pollens, plants, dust mites and even human skin cells. This disorder is usually inherited and affects some breeds more than others. Atopy is not a direct cause, but it makes sensitive skin more susceptible to pyoderma infections. Skin parasites Fleas are the primary parasites that cause pyoderma. Not only do flea bites cause your dog to itch, but your dog may become allergic to the flea saliva; if so, this would increase the likelihood of a skin inflammation, increasing the opportunities for pyoderma to develop. If a case of pyoderma develops in your dog, you should suspect fleas first. Food allergy Food allergies in dogs are not very common, but they do occur. Consult your veterinarian to confirm that a food allergy is the cause of the pyoderma. Your veterinarian can advise you on a good hypoallergenic food for your dog. Skin wounds Open wounds, cuts and scratches give pyoderma an opportunity to set in. Working dogs are especially susceptible since they may receive wounds while at work. Poor grooming Regular bathing and grooming is important for keeping a dog's skin clean and keeping down bacterial growth. Seborrhoea This is a disease in which the the skin does not function properly in its production of cells or normal oils. This causes your dog's skin to become unusually greasy or dry and flaky. This disorder can be an underlying cause of pyoderma.

    There are a wide variety of causes for pyoderma. (lonely homeless dog. image by wrangler from

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    Treatment for Pyoderma

    The first time you begin to see symptoms of pyoderma in your dog, you should consult your veterinarian. Since pyoderma often becomes a chronic (recurring) condition, you will soon be able to recognise the symptoms on your own and probably be able to treat at home after the initial veterinarian visit. There are several things to remember: There are different types of pyoderma that each require different treatments. Begin treatment as soon as symptoms appear. Find the root cause and treat that; you should start with fleas unless you have other proof. Consider a hypoallergenic diet for your dog. Make sure your dog is bathed and groomed regularly (about once a month or so) to ensure healthy skin and coat. Ensure that the skin is well moisturised and clean with a product such as Humilac. Some other suggestions for specialised treatment of skin infected with pyoderma: Use Dermacool for 'hot spots' and inflamed skin. Shampoo your dog with Etiderm twice a week (for surface pyoderma). Shampoo your dog with Paxcutol (for superficial and deep pyodermas). Shampoo your dog regularly with Sebocalm to maintain healthy skin and coat, and to prevent recurring pyoderma.

    Regular bathing and grooming can help prevent pyoderma. (horse and hound brushes image by mark humphreys from

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    Chronic or Recurring Pyoderma

    Often pyoderma goes away with treatment. However, in some cases, the condition recurs. In this instance, your dog may have a more severe form of pyoderma. You should consult with your veterinarian. For severe, chronic, recurrent cases of pyoderma, your veterinarian will want to run tests and cultures on the skin to target the primary cause. She may also suspect a different disease such as ringworm, yeast infections and mange. Therefore, she may recommend blood tests, skin scrapings, allergy or hormonal tests, cultures of lesions, or biopsies. If the primary cause is a bacterial infection, he may want to administer a round of antibiotics. The severity of the infection will determine the strength and number of the antibiotics and how long your dog will have to take them. Just as with humans, antibiotics can be costly and can have side effects which range in severity. You will want to ask your veterinarian about possible side effects of the drugs. Typically, to ensure a cure, the veterinarian will keep your dog on the antibiotics up to two weeks after the pyoderma has disappeared. Most bacteria should respond to antibiotic treatment. For other pyodermas, such as those caused by allergies, your veterinarian may administer antihistamines.

    For severe cases of pyoderma, medical treatment is required and your veterinarian may need to run tests. (doctor image by from

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