Bacterial & Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs
If you notice your dog is scratching a lot lately and has skin that appears moist, flaky or crusty, a bacterial or fungal skin infection may be the culprit.
Inflammation, odor and redness may also be an issue, not to mention recurring health problems when yeast dermatitis or staph infection are causing the condition.
Though skin problems are fairly common for dogs, they may also be an indication of underlying health issues.
In this post, our Westport vets share some advice about what to do if your dog’s licking, scratching or other signs of skin disease are making him - and you - uncomfortable.
Also called Malassezia dermatitis, yeast dermatitis is a very common cause of skin disease in dogs. Though the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis is normally found on the skin, this can lead to dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) if it grows excessively.
Staphylococcal Infection (staph infection)
The most common bacterial infection that appears in dogs is caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus sp and is a zoonotic risk, which means dogs and humans can transmit the infection between one another. This means that good hygiene and early treatment should be a high priority.
Staph infections can impact a dog’s upper respiratory tract or skin, and can be treated with antibiotics such as cephalexin, clindamycin or erythromycin. Antibiotic shampoos and ointments may also be used.
Symptoms of fungal & Bacterial Skin Infections in Dogs
Fungal Infection (Yeast Dermatitis)
Common clinical signs of yeast dermatitis include:
- Itchiness or redness
- Musty odor
- “Elephant skin” or thickened skin”
- Recurrent or chronic ear infections (otitis externa)
- Crusty, flaky or scaly skin
Common clinical signs of staph infection include:
- Pus-filled lesions on the skin
- Excessive itching, chewing or licking
- Ears, eyes, skin or respiratory system infections
- Patchy fur with crusty, moist or peeling skin
- Red or inflamed skin
Causes of Bacterial & Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs
Many bacteria and fungi live on the skin but are controlled by the immune system and do not cause issues under normal circumstances. But, if skin conditions change or the immune system becomes suppressed, bacterial and fungal infections can result.
Immune deficiencies or an increase in the amount of oils produced on the skin are common causes of yeast infections. While yeast infections are not contagious, they will often recur unless the underlying skin condition or allergy is addressed.
Certain breeds may be genetically predisposed to yeast infections, such as the Lhasa Apso, Poodle, Dachshund, Shetland Sheepdog, West Highland White Terrier, Maltese Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Basset hound, Australian Terrier, Silky Terrier, and Chihuahua.
When it comes to staph infections, skin can become irritated when a dog excessively scratches, chews or licks. If your dog has an allergy to medications, food or environmental factors, or fleas, you may start to notice these behaviors.
Some chronic debilitating diseases, allergies, fungal infections of the blood and other secondary infections may cause staph infections. Any age or breed of dog can be afflicted, but older dogs are more susceptible due to their weakened immune systems.
Diagnosis of Fungal Dermatitis & Bacterial Skin Infections in Dogs
During your pet’s routine exam, our vets will check your pet’s coat and skin for any issues, such as dryness, oiliness, inflammation, hair loss, excessive shedding, lumps or bumps or other symptoms. Catching issues early offers your pet the best chance at long-term health.
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. https://www.westportveterinary.com/site/diagnostics-technology-westport-vet
Treatment of Fungal Dermatitis & Staph Infection in Dogs
Yeast dermatitis infections can be treated with oral or topical treatments, or a combination of both based on the severity of your dog’s condition. These medications are highly effective, though they must be given for a prolonged period (often several months).
These drugs can have potential side effects on the liver that will require close monitoring with routine blood tests.
Staph infections are typically treated with oral antibiotics. Antibacterial shampoo or topical ointments can be used for these types of skin conditions. Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment may take several weeks to have an effect.
Because staph infections can be passed between dogs and from dog to humans, extra care should be taken when handling and treating your dog.
Discuss any supplements or medications your dog is currently taking with your veterinarian so he or she can choose the best treatment for your pet’s individual circumstances while helping to reduce the risk of a potential interaction between drugs.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.