What Are Canine Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections in dogs, also known as Pyoderma, can come in a variety of shapes and forms and are very common in dogs of all breeds and sizes.
Bacterial infections in dogs can occur as a result of cuts or scrapes that become infected on the skin surface. Bacteria enters small wounds or areas of weakness on the skin, allowing bacteria to hide under the skin. Pets with skin disease, such as mange, staph infections, or weakened immune systems due to metabolic or other internal illness are also more likely to contract bacterial infections.
Once the bacteria have taken hold of an area, they begin to create lesions in the form of scabbing, hair loss, and redness. Sometimes this also results in the skin oozing debris. Lesions may grow in size and cover a single large affected area or they may begin to form in different locations all over the body. Dogs with a metabolic disease may see a characteristic pattern of hair loss and lesions forming over the back and hind legs, as with Cushing’s Disease.
Common Types of Bacterial Infections in Dogs
The most common types of bacteria found in skin infections include Streptococcus, Staph, E. coli, and Pseudomonas, among others. Bacterial infections can also be caused by yeast, such as Malassezia.
Prevention and Treatment of Bacterial Canine Skin Infections
The treatment for each bacterial type is usually similar unless the bacteria is found to be resistant to certain types of antibiotics.
The best way to prevent canine bacterial infection is by keeping the skin and coat surfaces clean and dry. Wounds should be inspected for any signs of infection and kept clean to prevent the further spread of infection.
Pets on steroids or other immune suppressants may be more susceptible, so extra care should be taken if any wounds or other abrasions are seen on the skin.
The treatment traditionally involves ruling out another common skin issues, such as flea bite allergies or other allergens, causing distress. A skin scraping is usually performed, where a small sample of one or more lesions is removed from the skin surface and placed in a growth medium or sent to a lab. If growth appears or changes color on the medium, it may indicate a bacterial infection. Samples sent to labs will give you a detailed report on the type of bacteria present.
Antibiotics, in addition to medicated shampoos, are usually the treatment of choice. Pets are usually given a course of antibiotics for 7-14 days depending on the severity of the infection. The most common antibiotics used are cephalexin and amoxicillin. However, others may be chosen depending on lab results. Medicated shampoos, anti-inflammatories, and other medications may be prescribed to help relieve the symptoms of itching, redness, or inflammation in addition to the bacterial infection. Pets are usually given an Elizabethan collar or a T-shirt to prevent licking or scratching when the healing occurs. Excessive licking of an infected area can actually cause the infection to worsen and spread.
In dogs with other underlying diseases, such as Mange or metabolic disease, it is necessary to get those conditions under control while treating the bacterial infection. This may include blood work to determine the type of metabolic disease. This may even include administering medications, such as ivermectin, for the treatment of mange. By treating and strengthening the immune system, you can help cure the bacterial infection quickly and prevent recurrence.
While the bacterial infection may resolve more quickly, it may take up to a few months for skin and hair growth to return to normal. By keeping the affected areas clean and healthy during the healing process, you can help speed up healing and prevent the risk of reinfection.
Possible Alternative Remedies for Canine Bacterial Infections
For preventing canine bacterial infections, herbal supplements, such as Echinacea and Garlic, can be given to help boost the immune system. These herbs also have antibacterial properties, which may help reduce bacteria in the system. A gauze piece soaked in Calendula and placed over the affected areas may help relieve itching and swelling and facilitate healing.
Several homeopathic treatments are also available, including Sulph 6C or 30C, Rhus Tox 1M, and Antimonum Crud 6C.
However, if traditional alternative therapies do not work or lesions become bothersome or even increase in size and body coverage, medical treatment may be needed in addition to herbal therapies to help treat and prevent infection.