3 Typical Causes of Pyoderma in Dogs

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Don’t get alarmed. Pyoderma in dogs is one of the most common diseases in canines. Their skin features set them at a higher risk of infection. Take a sip of your favorite drink and read more about pyoderma to understand its cause and how to treat your pup! 

3 Typical Causes of Pyoderma in Dogs

What is pyoderma in dogs?

The term pyoderma is a medical term for a bacterial skin infection. The barrier of the dog’s skin is thinner and has a higher pH than other species - welcoming normal bacteria to overgrow and bacteria invasion. 

Types of pyoderma in dogs 

The severity of pyoderma falls into three categories: 

1. Surface pyoderma 

As the first word implies, it affects the outer skin layer, the epidermis. Its characteristics are pink, irritated skin, and hair loss. It may also include 

  • Pyotraumatic dermatitis - “hot spots”: An intense itch that rapidly develops.
  • Intertrigo: Skin folds infections; common among short-muzzled breeds. 
  • Bacterial overgrowth syndrome (BOGS): Aspects of a greasy, itchy, and smelly coat are present on the underside of the dog’s body. 

2. Superficial pyoderma 

Going deeper into the layer of the skin - this condition also affects the epidermis and part of the hair follicles. It features circular crusts, redness, bumps, and hair loss. Moreover, it involves the following: 

  • Impetigo “puppy pyoderma”: A pup’s immune system might be an easy target for infection. It affects areas with little hair, such as the stomach. Mild cases may need a topical treatment. Immunocompromised adult dogs are predisposed to develop impetigo too. 
  • Superficial bacterial folliculitis (SBF) and superficial spreading: A widespread hair loss that happens to all breeds, but some breeds, may experience severe redness and irritation. 
  • Mucocutaneous pyoderma: Overproduction of mucus in the skin. The most common areas affected are the lips, nose, skin around the eyes, vulva, and area around the anus. Predisposed breeds include German Shepherds, Bichon Frises, and poodles. 

3. Deep pyoderma

If superficial pyoderma progresses untreated or the skin follicle ruptures, your pet might suffer from swelling, “bruise”-looking areas, or draining tracts of infection - accompanied by redness, crusting, and hair loss. 

  • Furunculosis: Dogs’ toes are typically affected areas but may occur anywhere in the body. “Post-grooming furunculosis” is a rare condition that causes pain and fever. It happens between 24 to 48 hours after bathing or intense brushing.
  • Acne: Inflamed hair follicles may become infected with bacteria. Young dogs are susceptible to such, usually around the chin and mouth. 
  • German Shepherd deep pyoderma: The outer thighs, groin, and trunk are the most affected.
  • Link granuloma: Licking the top surface of the lower legs may stem from a bacterial infection or another issue. 
  • Callus pyoderma:  Infected areas appear dark, thickened skin over pressure points.

Causes of pyoderma in dogs 

Pyoderma in dogs is secondary to another illness or disease process. A complication of the following may provoke pyoderma in dogs. 

3 Typical Causes of Pyoderma in Dogs
  1. Allergies to fleas, environmental allergens, or food ingredients
  2. Parasitic skin infection 
  3. Endocrine disease 
  4. Immune disorder/ immunosuppression 

Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is a bacteria responsible for more than 90 percent of the cases. This type of bacteria inhabits the skin, but if the skin barrier is damaged or unhealthy, it can increase in number and cause problems. 

Other bacteria infections

  • Staphylococcus schleiferi
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • E. coli
  • Pseudomonas
  • Actinomyces
  • Nocardia
  • and others.

Is pyoderma in dogs contagious? 

When infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, humans pose no risk for contamination. Rare cases involving staphylococcus aureus might spread to a person. 

Diagnoses for pyoderma in dogs 

After your veterinarian properly diagnosed your dog with pyoderma; through a physical exam and some diagnostic testing. 

Seek your veterinarian to do a physical exam. Diagnostic test performance may include: 

Skin cytology: Samples of the infection observed under a microscope. 

Skin scraping: Using a microscope to search for mites: Sarcoptes scabiei or the Demodex species.

Culture and sensitivity: A swab sample gets sent to a diagnostic laboratory for fungal, bacterial culture, or sensitivity testing. It takes several days but enables vets to know the specific type of bacteria, fungus, or both at the root of the cause. 

Skin biopsy: Removes a section of the skin to be examined by a pathology laboratory if the infection is recurrent or the skin has an unlikely appearance. 

Bloodwork: It may be necessary to support the cause of the skin infection. 

Allergy testing: If allergies are suspected, your vet might propose an elimination diet trial to test for food allergies or intradermal allergies - with a veterinary dermatologist. 

Treating pyoderma in dogs

It’s time for the cone of shame or a recovery cone collar - an Elizabethan collar - to prevent your pet from licking or biting itself. 

While that is going on, your vet might also recommend medications: 

Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics are cephalexin, Simplicef, Clavamox, and clindamycin. An injectable antibiotic, Cefovecin, must be administered by a vet. 

Anti-itch medication: Veterinary assistants must determine if the options Apoquel, Cytopoint, and steroids, anti-inflammatory, is safe for your pet. 

Topical treatment is also encouraged and may consist of

Medicated shampoo: Its antibacterial and antifungal ingredients are helpful and may be recommended for the long term if your pet encounters recurrent infections. 

Medicated spray, mousse, or ointment: With antimicrobial product to spray or rub. Its use in the long term depends on its occurrence. 

Seek AniViva® Pet Series for its unique zinc-copper-magnesium-based dog skin moisturizers and conditioners!

“Clip and clean”: Vet staff may clip the surrounding affected area to prevent reinfection and allow ventilation.  Then a gentle antiseptic will clean the area. 

Epsom salt foot soaks: A soaking bath may be needed to ease inflammation and infection of its paws. 


Witnessing pyoderma in your dog might not be pleasant; seeing their anguish. Meeting with your veterinarian will speed up the road to treatment for your pal and have good outcomes. 

But even so, if deep pyoderma is severe, in rare and extreme cases, hospitalization is required. 

3 Typical Causes of Pyoderma in Dogs

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