What causes dog skin infection? Expert Advice

Diagnosis of Fungal Dermatitis & Bacterial Skin Infections in Dogs

Our vets at Guilford-Jamestown Animal Hospital are trained in dermatological veterinary medicine. We treat a wide variety of skin, eye, ear, and nail conditions in pets. We use several techniques to collect samples and diagnose yeast dermatitis, including:

  • Impression smear
  • Skin biopsy
  • Skin scraping
  • Acetate tape preparations
  • Cotton swab sample
  • For a staph infection, your pet will need a complete physical examination, and your veterinarian may perform a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, in addition to thoroughly reviewing your pet’s medical history and asking questions such as when you began to notice symptoms.

    Skin tests may also be done to find out whether the inflammation is caused by immune-related issues or an allergic reaction. A skin biopsy may be required, during which your veterinarian will swab the skin to determine which antibiotic should be used to treat the condition.

    At our in-house lab, we can perform tests and get results quickly with our advanced imaging and testing equipment.

    Bacterial & Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs

    Is your dog feeling itchy, or does his skin appear flaky, moist or crusty? He may have a bacterial or fungal infection. You may also notice, odor, inflammation or redness. Yeast dermatitis or staph infection can bring these symptoms, along with recurring health issues.

    It’s fairly common for dogs to experience skin problems, which can also be indicative of underlying health issues. In this post, our Baltimore vets share some tips about what you can do if your dog’s scratching, licking and other symptoms are leaving you both uncomfortable.

    Also known as Malassezia dermatitis, yeast dermatitis is an extremely common cause of skin disease for many dogs. Though the skin normally has a fungus called Malassezia pachydermatis, it can grow out of control and lead to inflammation (dermatitis).

    Caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus sp., staph infection is the most common bacterial skin infection found in dogs. It’s a zoonotic risk, which means dogs and humans can transmit the infection between one another.

    This makes good hygiene and early detection and treatment essential to prevention – and minimizing damage if the infection does happen.

    Staph infection may affect a dog’s skin or upper respiratory tract, and can be treated with oral antibiotics such as clindamycin, cephalexin or erythromycin. Your vet may also recommend antibiotic ointments and shampoos.

    Recovery and Management of Pyoderma in Dogs

    Re-check appointments with your veterinarian will ensure that your dog’s infection has completely cleared before its antibiotic treatment has ended. Treatment may need to be continued for 7 to 14 days past when their skin appears normal, so please do not stop the antibiotics before a full course of treatment has been completed. Ending antibiotic treatment too early can contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.

    Infection often needs to be cleared before your veterinarian can begin investigating the underlying cause of the pyoderma. It is important to determine the underlying cause, whether it be allergies, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, or another illness, so your dog doesn’t experience frequent relapses of pyoderma.

    How To treat these 5 Skin infection in dogs with home remedies.

    Bacterial folliculitis is the most common type of bacterial skin infection in the dog. The Staphylococcus pseudintermedius bacteria, which is a normal resident bacteria of canine skin, can cause infection of the skin in some dogs. Current theories indicate that most dogs who develop the infection, particularly recurrent infections, have an underlying abnormality of their metabolic or immune systems. This form of pyoderma is a frequent complication of environmental allergies, food hypersensitivities, skin parasites (mites, fleas) and endocrine diseases, like hypothyroidism. An idiopathic primary bacterial folliculitis is also seen in short-haired dogs.

    Pus Filling the Hair Follicle Spotty Infected Follicles Wide Ruptured PustulesLocated within the hair follicle, this bacterial infection causes

    SKIN BACTERIAL CULTURING can be done in our office. Dogs that have had long standing pyodermas are the best candidates for antibiotic sensitivity testing. We can get culture and antibiotic sensitivity results in 24 hours in our own bacteriology mini lab. We also can test for MRSP, a methcillin resistant form of antibiotic resistant bacterial skin infections, similar to MRSA in people.

    Using this technology, we can often find an antibiotic that will help the infection in cases of resistant bacterial skin infections that have been treated with multiple antibiotics. That gives the patient a fast start to therapy. Dr. Gotthelf has been instrumental in helping to develop these patented SensiRings.

    Treatment: A satisfactory resolution of pyoderma comprises both the cure of the cutaneous signs and the prevention of recurrences. As most pyodermas are secondary infections, the diagnosis and control of the underlying problem is mandatory for a good therapeutic success. If the underlying illness is not controlled, the pyoderma may recur after the antibiotics are interrupted. On the other hand, if the underlying cause is corrected, but the pyoderma is not treated, the bacterial infection may not heal on its own

    While surface pyoderma may be treated with topical therapy alone, superficial and deep pyoderma require treatment with systemic antibiotics.

    Topical therapy can involve the use of antibacterial shampoos (see below) and sprays. In some cases, we will use special types of antibacterial (not antibiotic) cremes and lotions.

    Antibiotics: This type of therapy can become quite confusing and if the antibiotic is not chosen correctly, resistance and deeper infection can result. Skin antibiotics are classified in tiers. The first tier antibiotics are those that typically kill Staphylococci readily in the skin. Examples of this type of antibiotic include Cephalexin, Cefpodoxime, Trimethoprim/Sulfas, Erythromycins, Clindamycin, and Amoxicillin/Clavulanate.

    Second tier antibiotics can kill Staphylococci and some other types of bacterial infections of the skin, but they are reserved for documented (cultured) skin lesions when tier 1 antibiotics are not working. Examples of this type of antibiotic include Doxycycline, Chloramphenicol, Fluoroquinolones, and injectable Gentamycin and Amikacin

    Typically, a minimum of three weeks of oral or injectable antibiotic therapy is required. If the proper antibiotic is chosen to kill the bacterial infection, the signs will subside within a week. However, if the antibiotic is stopped, these infections will flare up again and the results may be worse than first noticed.

    Bacterial pyoderma requires a course of oral antibiotics for seven days past resolution of the clinical signs.

    An antibiotic that is specific and effective at killing Staphylococcus pseudintermedius and penetrates skin is indicated.

    Some Staphylococci have become resistant to many antibiotics. These are called Methcillin Resistant Staphylococcus Pseudintermedius (MSRP). At Animal Hospital of Montgomery, we can now do an in house bacterial culture for these resistant bacteria, which can also tell us which antibiotic might work best for a resistant infection.

    Shampooing is the most frequently used treatment and it should be allowed to soak for 10-15 minutes, and then thoroughly rinsed. Regular dog shampoos or flea and tick shampoos are good for cleansing the skin and haircoat, but they are not good for skin infections.

    The shampoos used to treat a bacterial skin infection are specially made for dogs. They contain ingredients that remove much of the surface debris from the skin and they have antibacterial compounds that help to kill bacteria in the skin. We recommend 4% chlorhexidine, 2% benzoyl peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite (bleach) shampoos to treat bacterial skin infections.

    Treatments should be repeated initially 2-3 times weekly. Antibacterial conditioning sprays can be used be sprayed on the skin between bathing days. Shampoo therapy is eventually tapered to once weekly or twice monthly when the disease improves. An excessively frequent use, particularly of strong agents, such as benzoyl peroxide, may lead to excessive coat dryness and skin irritation.