Pyoderma in Dogs- Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Pyoderma in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Table of Contents

Put simply, Pyoderma is a bacterial infection that occurs on the skin of adult dogs and puppies.

When it occurs in the latter (puppies), it is typically referred to as “Impetigo”.

This skin disorder is characterized by an over-excessive growth of bacteria known as Staphylococcus intermedius (pseudintermedius).

It should be noted that other types of bacteria have also been linked to Pyoderma.
Pyoderma in Dogs

You will notice your dog having itchy skin – which upon close examination may reveal scaly-like appearance as well as ulcers and pustules in some cases.

Veterinarians believe that Pyoderma in dogs is aggravated by warm and moist conditions.

This type of environment is considered to have a negative impact on a dogs’ immune system.

While Pyoderma is treatable through a regimen of antibiotics, there is a significant possibility of recurrence; particularly if we do not get to the root bottom of underlying causes.

This skin disorder is thought to mask other conditions.

This means that your dog may be subjected to a vicious treatment cycle if said condition is not addressed.

Besides antibiotics, some dog supplements for dry skin have also demonstrated success in terms of prevention of Pyoderma.

Signs and Symptoms of Pyoderma

The most common signs and symptoms of pyoderma include:

  • Crusting
  • Scaling
  • Hair loss
  • Rashes
  • Redness on skin
  • Pus on skin (Sometimes blood)
  • Itchiness
  • Sensitivity
  • Swelling
  • Yellow-like papules
  • Foul odor in the skin

Possible Causes of Pyoderma

Pyoderma can either occur as a single incident or as a result of an underlying issue.

If your dog’s Pyoderma is turning out to be a chronic condition, it’s possible that there is a lot more going on than meets the eye; probably allergies, an autoimmune disorder, or immunosuppression.

According to Elizabeth Layne, DVM, Dipl. ACVD – a clinical instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, canine pyoderma is the result of some bacterial infection that starts at the upper part of the hair follicle. 

Possible Causes of Pyoderma

Multiple peer reviewed clinical studies seem to suggest that superficial Pyoderma-causing bacteria is secondary to some type of skin disorder.

Many researchers have found it to be atopic dermatitis – which is a completely different diagnosis.

There is also some scientific evidence linking skin conditions such as: sebaceous adenitis, flea allergy dermatitis, and primary seborrhea to Pyoderma in dogs.

Once the dog’s immune system is compromised by any one or a combination of these skin disorders – worsened by warm and moist weather – Pyoderma starts to develop. 

Pyoderma is usually superficial in nature – meaning it presents on the upper layers of the skin.

However, it can also develop in the deeper layers of the dog’s skin and this is much harder to treat.

Diagnosis of Pyoderma

When you take your dog for a consultation visit at the veterinarian, they will perform a preliminary exam.

Physical areas that show the symptoms will be examined closely after which a medical background based on your canine’s history will be compiled.

The vet may perform skin scraping to collect skin samples and take them for evaluation.

The idea is to get an in-depth look of the bacterial manifestations as well as to investigate the type.

This is a process known as cutaneous cytology. 

Depending on the prevailing factors, the vet may also carry out blood tests and urine analysis with the aim of building a biochemistry profile to address any hidden conditions.

Experts believe that cytology is the most important stage of diagnosing Pyoderma.

Prevention and Treatment of Pyoderma

Topical Therapy

According to the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases (ISCAID’s), mild and localized cases of superficial bacterial pyoderma in dogs must first be treated through topical therapy before anything else.

Topical therapies include mousses, sprays, and wipes infused with disinfectants. Much of these are readily found at vet pharmacies.

The infected areas may be shaved to facilitate better absorption of topical medication


Some scientific studies have suggested that certain shampoos prevent bacterial infestation even after being washed away.

More specifically, shampoos containing miconazole and chlorhexidine are believed to be just as effective as antibiotics.

For better results, leave the shampoo on the dog’s body for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off. 


In dire situations, the vet may prescribe oral antibiotics to be taken for several weeks and a little more even after the lesions and pustules go away.

It can be a two-pronged strategy designed to eliminate the underlying condition, hormonal imbalances, as well as allergies.

You may encounter bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.

According to Michael Rossi, DVM, Dipl. ACVD, Director of Clinical Studies at Coastal Veterinary Dermatology and Ear Clinic, chances of developing resistance to antibiotics can be reduced if systemic therapy is administered alongside topical therapy.

The vet must ensure that systemic antibiotics are administered in the correct dosage and duration.

If discovered to be ineffective, they must perform aerobic bacterial culture to figure out another line of antibiotics to prescribe.

This is key to creating unnecessary antimicrobial resistance in the companion.

Recovery of Pyoderma

Recovery of Pyoderma

Create a comfortable space for your pet to recover and make sure there is access to healthy food and water.

Be sure to follow the recommendations of your vet in terms of medication.

You can also speed up your dog’s recovery with the dog supplements for dry skin to reduce irritation and rashes.

Do not slack once you see the symptoms have gone. Always strive to maintain healthy practices to keep the chances of pyoderma reoccurring extremely low.

Here at  VetGen Pharamaceuticals, we strive to provide optimal care to raising a healthy, active, and happy dog. That is why we go the extra mile to create the best dog supplements for dry skin as well as other supplements, to prevent and treat various conditions. All of our products adhere to the highest industry standards and practices. Do not hesitate to contact us for all your queries.


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  2. Wolfgang Baumer, Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University (2019): “Efficacy study of a topical treatment with a plant extract with antibiofilm activities using an in vivo model of canine superficial pyoderma”. Retrieved from
  3. David Grant, Veterinary Practice (2018): “Canine Deep Pyoderma”. Retrieved from
  4. N.J. Day, Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Bristol (1993): “An immunopathological study of deep pyoderma in the dog”. Retrieved from
  5. Dr. Sarah Wooten, Hills Pet (2019): “Pyoderma in Dogs: What You Need to Know”. Retrieved from