Common Skin Infections in Dogs
If the skin on your dog's body becomes dry, flaky, crusty, or infected with bacteria or fungi, it may cause itching and discomfort. Other symptoms include inflammation, redness, and odor, in addition to persistent yeast dermatitis or staph infections. Although skin problems in dogs are fairly common, they can be indicators of more serious health issues that require medical attention.
Yeast Dermatitis (Malassezia Dermatitis)
Malassezia dermatitis (yeast dermatitis) is a very common cause of skin disease in dogs. While the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis is naturally present on the skin of healthy dogs, excessive growth can cause skin inflammation (dermatitis).
Staphylococcal Infection (Staph Infection)
Staph infections are the most common bacterial skin infections in dogs (Staphylococcal infection). Because the bacterium Staphylococcus sp., which causes this skin infection, can be transmitted from humans to dogs, early detection and good hygiene are critical in treating this skin infection.
A staph infection can impact your dog’s skin or upper respiratory tract and is typically treated using oral antibiotics such as cephalexin, erythromycin, or clindamycin. Antibiotic ointments and shampoos may also be prescribed to help your dog's skin feel more comfortable.
Signs That Your Dog May Have a Bacterial or Fungal Skin Infection
Fungal Infection (Yeast Dermatitis)
Dogs suffering from a fungal skin infection will typically show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Thickened skin (“elephant skin”)
- Flaky, crusty, or scaly skin
- Redness and itchiness
- Musty odor
- Recurring or chronic ear infections
If your dog has a staph infection you may notice one or more of these symptoms:
- Excessive itching, licking or chewing
- Eye, ear, skin, or respiratory system infections
- Patchy fur with peeling, crusty skin, or moist skin
- Inflamed or red skin
- Pus-filled sores on the skin
Causes of Bacterial & Fungal Skin Diseases in Dogs
Your dog's skin is naturally home to numerous bacteria and fungi, but they are managed by the immune system and do not usually pose a threat. Bacterial and fungal infections can, however, arise if the state of the skin changes or the immune system is weakened.
Immune deficiencies or an increase in oils produced on the skin are common causes of yeast infections in dogs. Although yeast infections are not contagious, they can recur or become chronic unless the underlying skin condition or allergy is treated.
A staph infection can cause your dog's skin to become irritated and uncomfortable, leading to excessive scratching, chewing, or licking. You may notice these behaviors if your canine companion is allergic to medications, food or environmental factors, or fleas.
Some chronic debilitating diseases, allergies, fungal infections of the blood, and other secondary infections may result in staph infections. Although any age or breed of dog can be afflicted, older dogs are more susceptible due to their weakened immune systems
There are a number of breeds that show a predisposition to skin infections including:
- Lhasa Apso
- West Highland White Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Australian Terrier
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Maltese Terrier
- Basset hound
- Silky Terrier
Diagnosis of Fungal Dermatitis in Dogs
Our Murfreesboro vets at Animal Medical Center treat a wide range of skin, eye, ear, and nail conditions in pets. We use several techniques to collect samples and diagnose skin infections in dogs.
Yeast infections can be diagnosed through impression smears, skin biopsy, skin scraping, acetate tape preparations, or cotton swab samples.
A staph infection in your dog will require a thorough physical examination. In addition to carefully reviewing your pet's medical history and asking questions about when you first noticed symptoms, your veterinarian may perform a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis.
Skin tests may also be required to find out whether the inflammation is caused by immune-related issues or an allergic reaction to something. A skin biopsy may be necessary, 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.
How to Treat Fungal Infections in Dogs
Depending on the severity of your dog's condition, oral, topical, or a combination of both treatments may be used to treat yeast dermatitis infection. These medications must be taken for an extended period of time, but they are extremely effective (often several months). These medications may cause liver problems, necessitating close monitoring and frequent blood tests.
Staph infections in dogs are typically treated with oral antibiotics. Antibacterial shampoo or topical ointments can also be used for these types of skin conditions. Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment may take several weeks before you will begin seeing an improvement in the condition of your dog's skin.
Because staph infections can be passed between dogs and from dogs 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 they can choose the best treatment for your pet’s skin problem while helping to reduce the risk of interactions 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.