Pyoderma in Dogs: 101 About This Dog Skin Infection

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By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: April 17, 2020

bad skin conditions in dogs, puppy with pyoderma in dogsItchy skin,  inflammation, and puss! These symptoms in our furry friends often point to pyoderma in dogs. Considered to be one of the most common skin bacterial infections in dogs, this disease is truly quite a perplexing problem many pet owners face. So, if you’d like to learn more about pyoderma in dogs then read on!

A Wise Veterinarian: Pyoderma Definition

The first question pet parents may ask is, what is pyoderma in dogs? Well, pyoderma is simply a bacterial skin that may be caused by various species of bacteria. Pyoderma has many names and so you would have probably heard veterinarians call it either bacterial skin infection or bacterial folliculitis.

The Infected Pimple: What Causes Pyoderma in Dogs?

It’s important to remember that having bacteria on the skin is normal! All animals will have various species of bacteria colonizing their skin. These bacteria tend to reside on the superficial stratum corneum and hair follicles of the animal.  Of these there are a few main bacterial species that have been well-known at causing canine pyoderma, this includes Staphylococcus intermedius, Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus hyicus.

In dogs, the main cause of pyoderma in dogs is often due to pathogenic Staphylococci which tend to colonize the skin. And, it is this very bacteria which causes inflammation and seborrhoeic skin.

The Effect of Atopic Dermatitis!

puppy itchy due to skin problems in dogs

Canine atopic dermatitis is regarded as a type of skin disease that’s caused by allergies. Dog’s with atopic dermatitis will experience similar symptoms to pyoderma. This may include itchy bumps, puss filled lesions, and red inflamed skin. Often atopic dermatitis can result in secondary bacterial infections which can cause pyoderma in dogs.

What About CBD Oil for Skin Infections in Dogs?

While CBD oil has many uses, it is important to remember that it is not effective against bacteria. Nevertheless, CBD oil for dogs—such as Honest Paws—can be used to treat the symptoms of pyoderma in dogs. For instance, CBD oil has been known to alleviate inflammation and itching. Therefore, systemic administration of CBD oil can very likely reduce any inflammation on your dog’s skin. This can truly relieve any irritation your dog may have from pyoderma!

If you’re interested in trying CBD oil out then check out Honest Paws!

But, remember to let your vet know as CBD oil can have drug interactions should your pet be on any other drug.

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Puppy Pyoderma Vs Folliculitis in Dogs: How is this Dog Skin Infection Disease Classified!

Pyoderma in dogs can be classified by either as superficial, deep, or pseudo-pyoderma. Superficial pyoderma in dogs is often benign and can be further classed as:

  • Folliculitis: Folliculitis is simply a bacterial infection of the hair follicles
  • Impetigo: Will characteristically consist of tiny lumps and bumps called pustules. These pustules will contain puss and are often distributed across the body surface. Impetigo can further be classed as either juvenile or adult.
  • Skin-fold: As the name suggests skin fold pyoderma consists of lesions around areas where bacteria are most likely to flourish. These often include dark, damp, and moist regions like the vulva, lip folds, and mammary folds. Skin fold pyoderma may commonly be referred to as intertrigo and is characteristically going to consist of a distinct smelly odor, puss, and erythema.

Pyoderma in dogs can also be classed as deep which is often a lot more severe than superficial pyoderma. Deep pyoderma in dogs can include:

  • Cellulitis: This form of pyoderma may either be localized or generalized. Localized lesions may be necrotizing and are likely to be located on the lateral digits of the animal, the elbows, stifle, or hock.
  • Interdigital pyoderma is not a pyoderma but rather a non-infectious pododermatitis. Symptoms of interdigital pyoderma may include erythema, oozing of lesions, and alopecia.

Symptoms and Clinical Signs of Canine Pyoderma!


The symptoms of pyoderma in dogs will vary depending on the individual dog and the type of infection present. Nevertheless, the most commonly examined clinical signs will include:

  • Severe itchiness
  • Foul odor
  • Crusting and shedding of the skin
  • Scaling of the infected skin
  • Ulceration may be common
  • Rashes and redness
  • Hair loss
  • Puss or yellow papules with pus
  • Swelling of infected skin area
  • Sensitivity and irritation

Diagnosing This Skin Conditions in Dogs!

Diagnosing canine pyoderma will be based on the history of the animal as well as a physical exam. However, in order to get a definitive diagnosis, your veterinarian may request a few laboratory examinations.

The first examination could be a cytology which involves viewing the structure and cells of the skin scrapings under a microscope. The second examination may be a histopathology, which involves viewing the microscopic lesions present on the skin tissue.

Finally, your veterinarian may choose to perform a few blood chemistry tests, full blood count, and bacteriology test to see if there could be any other primary causes for the pyoderma on your dog.

So, How Does A Vet Treat Skin Problems in Dogs like Pyoderma?

The treatment for such a skin disease will often require a course of antibiotics. Furthermore, treatment for pyoderma skin infections may be either systemic or topical therapy.


Now, as we know antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. However, today, due to the overuse of antibiotics, there has been a significant increase in resistance. For example, many scientists today are quite concerned about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is because it is becoming increasingly hard to eradicate such bacteria with antibiotics.

Therefore, when selecting for the appropriate antibiotic for your pooch. Your vet will consider the activity against staphylococcus bacteria, the amount of pus generated during infection, bactericidal activity, and the potential of secondary effects.

To give you an example of the type of antibiotics your vet may choose, we have listed some possibilities below:

  • Penicillins A potentiated by clavulanic acid
  • Cephalosporin P
  • Sulfonamides-Diaminopyrimidines
  • Fluoroquinolones

Common Questions

What is Pyoderma?

What causes itchy skin on dogs?

What are Pyoderma symptoms?

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