Bacterial skin infections can have many causes, such as allergies. Regardless of the reason, skin infections require swift action by pet owners as they cause itching and pain. Some dogs are more vulnerable to develop bacterial skin infections than others.
It’s important to check common areas like the paws, groins and armpits. Skinfolds are particularly prone to skin infections, and dogs with heavy pendulous ears are very susceptible to infections. These infections happen because long, heavy ears can promote bacterial growth. However, any dog can develop a skin infection, so you should be on the lookout for warning signs.
Symptoms of skin infections include redness, itching, hair loss, bumps, pustules, and spots. Your vet may be able to diagnose by looking; however, a conclusive diagnosis requires the examination of hair, discharge, and skin cultures. Some of the tests and procedures your vet may conduct include:
- Skin scrapes and hair plucks.
- Swab of the skin or pus to look under the microscope and culture for bacterial growth.
- Looking down the ear with an otoscope to evaluate the ear canal.
If your dog is diagnosed with a bacterial skin infection, your vet will direct you to keep the affected areas as clean as feasible. In certain dog breeds, it may be necessary to have their hair clipped to allow air to areas to assist in the healing process. In many cases, prescription antibiotics will aid in recovery. Your vet may also suggest topical creams or shampoos.
One of the most critical aspects of skin infection treatment is routine bathing which is beneficial because it:
- Helps clean the skin, removing scaling and dirt that contains bacteria.
- Can reduce any foul odours stemming from an infection.
- May reduce itching and scratching.
Your vet can direct you on the appropriate frequency of bathing for your pet and the type of dog shampoo to use. Bathing too frequently can irritate your dog’s skin, so the right balance is critical. Dog hygiene can be enhanced with the use of rinses and sprays in between baths.
How to prevent skin infections in dogs?
If you have a dog breed that is particularly susceptible to skin infections, consider speaking to your vet for a year-round plan to reduce the risks. Dogs with many skin folds might need maintenance treatment to keep these areas from becoming too moist and could require special wipes or shampoos to keep them clean. You can implement a routine where you inspect your dog for any visual signs of infection frequently.
If you suspect your pet has a skin infection, talk to your vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.