How to Recognize and Treat Skin Infections in Your Dog

While dogs aren’t as well known for being clean as a cat, they still groom themselves. You have probably asked yourself if this is normal, and in most cases, it is perfectly fine. However, some skin conditions require a little bit of help from you to treat effectively.

One of two things usually causes skin infections in dogs. One type of infection is caused by bacteria and is called pyoderma. The other type is fungal and usually caused by yeast. While they are unpleasant and uncomfortable, they are relatively easy to treat.

Common Causes of Skin Infections in Dogs

So, how did Fido catch one of these infections? These types of infections are very common, with many dogs dealing with some form of skin infection in their lifetime. Some of the major risk factors for skin infections include existing allergies, swimming regularly, and breeds that have a lot of skin folds and long floppy ears. These cases all promote areas that support the growth of large colonies of bacteria or fungus.

Recognizing a Skin Infection

Before you can treat the skin infection, you first need to recognize that something isn’t quite right. Many dogs will display one or more of these symptoms:

• Bumps, pimples, and other skin abrasions
• Regularly licking in one area
• Head shaking
• Scratching their ears
• Tilting their head to one side
• Greasy or smelly skin

If you suspect your dog may have a skin infection, a trip to the vet is recommended. They are able to tell the cause of the infection and give you the medication needed to effectively treat your pet.

How to Tell Bacterial from Fungal

Vets are usually able to tell the difference in the cause of an infection from the symptoms. Bacterial infections are going to show up as pimples and sores in very local areas. Fungal infections are usually given away by the smell.

In some cases, like infections in your dog’s ears, it is a little harder to tell. If the veterinarian is unsure, they will take a swab of the affected area. With this sample, they can see if the cause is bacterial or fungal in nature.

Treating Bacterial Infections

Once your veterinarian has found out the cause of the infection is bacterial, there are several treatment options. The use of oral medication is typically recommended. Many veterinarians start a dog off on a three-week medication cycle of antibacterial medication. This usually is plenty of medication to ensure the infection has been cured. If it is a reoccurring infection, medication regimes of up to six weeks can be prescribed.

For dog’s who are prone to bacterial infections, have negative responses to antibiotic medication, or have advanced infections there are topical shampoos. With these, owners must bathe their dog and leave the shampoo in for ten minutes. The wait gives the shampoo time to properly penetrate your dog’s skin.

Treating Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are treated with oral medication and special bathing products. These have antifungal ingredients. Also, for fungal ear infections, your veterinarian may prescribe antifungal drops. It is important to remember that your dog’s ear infections can transmit to and from the rest of their body. Combining shampoos and eardrops is the most effective way to combat fungal infections.

On Going Care

For many breeds, specifically those with many folds and floppy ears, skin infections are a regular occurrence. However, there are things you can do as a responsible pet owner to reduce the duration and frequency of infections in your dog.

Regular grooming is an important part of your dog’s health regiment. Make sure that you are bathing regularly and using a quality shampoo. For dog’s who are prone to skin infections, you can find products formulated to help with your dog’s skin issues.
You also need to make sure you are drying your dog well after baths or swimming excursions. The bit of water left over after a dip gives bacterial and fungus great places to spawn.

Don’t worry too much if your dog develops a skin infection. It is a common ailment seen in dogs, even if they are well cared for. With the correct diagnosis, treating your dog is quick and relatively simple.