BACTERIAL SKIN INFECTIONS – DOGS
Bacterial skin infections are the third major cause of itching in dogs. Most of these infections occur when the immune system is compromised by allergies, illness or stress. “Pyoderma” is the medical term used for bacterial infections of the skin and literally means “pus in the skin”.
TYPES OF BACTERIAL INFECTION
* The bacteria responsible for most skin problems in dogs are called “Staphylococcus aureus”. Small numbers of these “staph” bacteria normally live on intact skin in harmony, but when the outer protective layer of skin is abraded because of itching, these bacteria multiply and cause infection. Common signs include itchy red raw bumps, scabs and pustules. Later, dry crusty areas of hair loss with an off-odor develop. The primary area involved generally depends on the underlying cause. For example, bacterial infections secondary to flea allergies cause lesions over the hindquarters and base of the tail. With inhalant allergies, the face, feet, chin and abdomen are the predominant sites.
* Bacteria can also infect the skin between the toes. This is called interdigital pyoderma. Demodectic mange also causes interdigital pyoderma.
* Bacterial infections of the chin are called canine acne.
* Skin fold infections are common in obese dogs and in breeds with pushed-in faces like the Sharpe, Boxer, and Pekingese. The extra skin folds are the site of infection. The area between the folds is dark and damp which provides an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply.
WHAT YOUR VET CAN DO
* Antibiotics are indicated for most bacterial skin infections. A course of two to three weeks is usually effective. Bathing with benzyl peroxide-type shampoos is recommended for generalized infections. Topical preparations may suffice for small, localized lesions. Alcohol wipes and baby powder help dry out moist skin fold infections.
* Corrective surgery may be necessary to eliminate persistent infections in certain skin fold cases. Allergy shots, also referred to as Hyposensitization injections, are very effective to enhance immunity in dogs. They are a cost-effective alternative to long-term antibiotics and reduce the recurrence of bacterial skin infections approximately 80 percent.
Goldenseal root tea added to the daily diet is helpful for staph infections. Calendula lotion may be applied topically to infected skin lesions. Bee pollen may be useful.
Hepar Sulphins may be beneficial when pus is present. Sulphur 30c is often recommended for treating bacterial skin infections.