Pyoderma in Dogs and Cats

November 8, 2003 (published) | July 31, 2018 (revised)

Staphylococcal Folliculitis and Furunculosis

Pyoderma is a bacterial skin infection (bacterial dermatitis). Pyodermas in dogs and cats are usually caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. These bacteria usually will not cause disease on normal skin. However, other underlying skin diseases cause changes in the skin surface and make the skin more susceptible to infection. Common underlying causes of pyoderma include allergies (food allergy, atopy (also called atopic dermatitis), flea allergy); parasites (demodectic or sarcoptic mange); seborrhea and hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease). As pyoderma is usually secondary to an underlying problem, it is important to diagnose and treat other health conditions while treating the pyoderma.

Pyodermas are treated using antibacterial shampoos, sprays or rinses. More severe pyodermas are treated with antibiotics. Commonly used antibiotics for bacterial skin infections include cephalopsorins such as cephalexin (Keflex) or amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (Clavamox). Deep skin infections require a longer course of antibiotic treatment. It is important to give the full dose of antibiotics for the entire time prescribed, even if your pet’s skin looks much better. Stopping the antibiotic before the prescription is finished may lead to further problems such as resistance to the antibiotic or the need to start treatment again from the beginning.

It is equally important to keep your recheck appointment. Medications may need to be modified at that time depending upon the pet's progress. Again, diagnosis and treatment of the primary problem is the key to preventing a recurrence.

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